Powering the Dream: The History and Promise of Green Technology

Powering the Dream: The History and Promise of Green Technology


By (author) Alexis Madrigal

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Paperback $14.01
  • Publisher: Da Capo Press Inc
  • Format: Hardback | 400 pages
  • Dimensions: 160mm x 231mm x 41mm | 612g
  • Publication date: 21 April 2011
  • Publication City/Country: Cambridge, MA
  • ISBN 10: 030681885X
  • ISBN 13: 9780306818851
  • Illustrations note: 16 pages of b/w photos
  • Sales rank: 407,458

Product description

Few today realize that electric cabs dominated Manhattans streets in the 1890s; that Boise, Idaho, had a geothermal heating system in 1910; or that the first megawatt turbine in the world was built in 1941 by the son of publishing magnate G. P. Putnam--a feat that would not be duplicated for another forty years. Likewise, while many remember the oil embargo of the 1970s, few are aware that it led to a corresponding explosion in green-technology research that was only derailed when energy prices later dropped. In other words: Weve been here before. Although we may have failed, America has had the chance to put our world on a more sustainable path. Americans have, in fact, been inventing green for more than a century. Half compendium of lost opportunities, half hopeful look toward the future, Powering the Dream tells the stories of the brilliant, often irascible inventors who foresaw our current problems, tried to invent cheap and energy renewable solutions, and drew the blueprint for a green future.

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Author information

Alexis Madrigal is senior editor and lead technology writer for TheAtlantic.com and an award-winning former staff writer for Wired.com. He is a visiting scholar at the University of California, Berkeley, and a regular guest on NPR. He lives in Washington, D.C

Review quote

"Kirkus," 3/1/11"Eye-opening micro-histories about American energy past, with an eye to the future...A well-told cautionary tale about the need for widespread renewable-energy production.""Conservation, " March 2011"It's refreshing to read a history book whose intent is to improve decisions in the present and near future...[An] able account of the very checkered history of green energy schemes in America...Madrigal has the best critique I've seen of the 'appropriate technology' philosophy promoted by my "Whole Earth Catalog" in the 1970s...[An] admirable book." "Booklist, " 4/1/11"Madrigal rises above politics to review the surprisingly long and fruitful history of renewable energy in the U.S....He shows beyond a doubt that the past will lead the way to a greener future." "Library Journal," 3/15/11"Part history of America's use of green technologies, part history of our relationship with that technology, and part hope for the future...On all these counts, the book is successful...Recommended for general readers with an interest in America's past, present, and future relationship with green technology.""Bookforum," April/May 2011"Madrigal manages--without any gonzo shenanigans--to engage and sometimes even electrify the reader with lean and jaunty prose, skillful storytelling, analytic theorizing, and a proficiency in factual gee-whizzery...He makes the dream of a perfect power source seem all the more urgent, nowthat we know for how long, and in how many past episodes, it's been deferred." Grist.org, 3/28/11"[An] absorbing, often astonishing new book...Rather than rehash well-understood problems or relitigate well-entrenched debates, Madrigal tells stories, unlikely, idiosyncratic stories, about real human beings...The book yields a continual sense of discovery, sometimes delight. Madrigal has produced a kind of anti-history: a chronicle of paths not taken, failed visionaries and cranks, near-misses and fiascos. Along the way there are les