Barbara’s Byline 09/22/11
The Quest: Energy, Security, and the Remaking of the Modern World (Penguin Press, $37.95)
Tonight we have the pleasure of hosting Daniel Yergin. As Dwight Garner of the New York Times tells us,
Daniel Yergin is America’s most influential energy pundit, and the book that put him on the map was The Prize: The Epic Quest for Oil, Money, and Power [Free Press, $22 (1991)]. It was a best seller, won a Pulitzer Prize and was tailored into a popular PBS mini-series. In the two decades since, Mr. Yergin, operating as a kind of one-man think tank, has had a virtual monopoly on the subject of energy and geopolitics. Such is his influence that one half expects his competitors to file antitrust litigation against him.
Mr. Yergin is back with a sequel to The Prize. . . . if anything, it’s an even better book. It is searching, impartial and alarmingly up to date. . . . The Quest will be necessary reading for C.E.O.’s, conservationists, lawmakers, generals, spies, tech geeks, thriller writers, ambitious terrorists and many others.
With little notice, House of Anansi Press, a Canadian publishing company dedicated to fine literature, has issued in trade paperback the transcripts of the 2011 Massey Lectures, an annual series co-sponsored by the Canadian Broadcasting Company, the House of Anansi, and Massey College. In the previous years, the Massey Lectures have given us such fine books as Wade Davis’s The Wayfinders and Margaret Atwood’s Payback. This year Adam Gopnik delivered the five lectures in a series he called Winter: Five Windows on the Season (Anansi, $19.95). Hardly an enticing title, but the essays are beautifully written gems about everything from the Romantic poets, to the races to the North and South Poles, and the thrills of Canadian ice hockey. Since these essays are written to be spoken, they are comfortably conversational in tone, but Gopnik is such a wonderful writer, and, dazzlingly, a wonderful thinker, that I was almost hypnotically drawn into his expansive meditations. Read twenty pages a night for 11 nights and you’ll sleep with uncommon ease.