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The Boom

How Fracking Ignited the American Energy Revolution and Changed the World



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About The Book

The “best all-around book yet on fracking” (San Francisco Chronicle) from a Pulitzer Prize finalist: “Gold's work is a tour de force of contemporary journalism” (Booklist).

First invented in 1947, hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, has not only become a major source of energy, it is changing the way we use energy, and the energy we use. It is both a threat and a godsend for the environment, and it is leading the revival of manufacturing in the United States.

A definitive narrative history, The Boom follows the twists and turns in the development and adoption of this radical technology. It is a thrilling journey filled with colorful characters: the green-minded Texas oilman who created the first modern frack; a bare-knuckled Oklahoman natural gas empire-builder who gave the world an enormous new supply of energy and was brought down by his own success and excesses; an environmental leader whose embrace of fracking brought an end to his public career; and an aging fracking pioneer who is now trying to save the industry from itself.

A fascinating and exciting exploration of one of the most controversial and promising sources of energy, The Boom “brings new clarity to a subject awash in hype from all sides…a thoughtful, well-written, and carefully researched book that provides the best overview yet of the pros and cons of fracking. Gold quietly leads both supporters and critics of drilling to consider other views” (Associated Press).

About The Author

Russell Gold is an award-winning investigative journalist at The Wall Street Journal. Gold’s reporting has taken him to five continents and above the Arctic Circle two times. In 2010, he was part of the award-winning Wall Street Journal team that covered the Deepwater Horizon explosion and oil spill. His first book, The Boom, was longlisted for the FT Goldman Sachs Business Book of the year prize in 2014. He lives in Austin, Texas with his wife and two children.


Product Details

  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster (April 21, 2015)
  • Length: 384 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781451692297

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Raves and Reviews

"Russell Gold’s The Boom is a double quest. He tells the story of the biggest innovation in energy so far in this century—the shale gas revolution. He captures the personalities, and the drama and surprises, and brings clarity to the debate about the environmental impact—and what it means for the U.S. economy and “energy independence.” But it’s also a more personal story – about “The Farm” in rural Pennsylvania where he spent time as a child, and his quest to understand what is happening in this new age of shale gas."

– Daniel Yergin, author of The Quest: Energy, Security, and the Remaking of the Modern World and of The Prize

“In The Boom, Russell Gold provides a compelling account of the last half century of natural gas technology development. Driven by hunches, large ambitions and even larger personalities, the story of fracking is the story of innovation, American style. Gold delves into the growing conflict between economic development and concerns over environmental damage, and explains why fracking is seen by some as a vital bridge to a sustainable energy future and feared by others as another excuse to postpone addressing the risks of climate change…. The Boom puts a human face on the unfinished story of our struggle to transition to a sustainable world.”

– Steven Chu, Former United States Secretary of Energy

"Gold's book is an early must-read for 2014: it is both a thorough and fascinating examination of the fracking economy and the technological innovations that have made these new riches accessible (including the often catastrophic damage done in the process of obtaining them)."

– Gizmodo

"An insider’s guide to the most controversial energy-production technique in the United States."

– Kirkus Reviews

“Gold delivers an engaging and expansive education on the promise and risks involved with the sudden rise of fracking for oil and natural gas in the United States… Gold delivers a balanced analysis weighing the benefits (the reduced use of dirtier coal, an end to the reliance on foreign oil and foreign entanglements, and sudden and reliable abundance of energy supply) against the pitfalls (the impacts on the environment and quality of life as energy companies stampede to secure leases and rush to drill, often in populated areas). Worthy of the attention of both fracking’s boosters and opponents, Gold’s insightful reportage supplies a well-rounded view of a polarizing subject.”

– Publishers Weekly (starred)

“Whether you think fracking is our salvation or an agent of environmental destruction, The Boom is worth your time.”


"Combining lucid explanations of fracking’s technical aspects with the practice’s more dramatic backstory, Gold’s work is a tour de force of contemporary journalism that will captivate anyone concerned with the future of energy consumption and
our rapidly changing climate.”

– Booklist (starred)

“This deftly handled account of the shale revolution provides a sobering assessment of the current limits of alternative energy, making for a nuanced treatment of an issue too many would prefer to see in black and white…Mr. Gold performs a valuable service by looking at it from a historical, economic, political and environmental perspective…his clear, thorough treatment of the subject is the starting point for a more informed discussion of energy and environmental policy.”

– Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

“[The Boom] brings new clarity to a subject awash in hype from all sides… a thoughtful, well-written and carefully researched book that provides the best overview yet of the pros and cons of fracking. Gold quietly leads both supporters and critics of drilling to consider other views.”

– Associated Press

"Russell Gold's The Boom, authoritative and fairly balanced, is a welcome guide - the best all-around book yet on fracking."

– San Francisco Chronicle

“[An] engaging story about the rise of fracking and how it has changed the energy landscape. Deep down, the book is a story about individual choices playing out against the wider energy landscape […] And, in the steady hands of Gold, a Wall Street Journal energy reporter and Pulitzer Prize finalist, the book ranges into a thorough explanation of fracking itself.”

– Austin American Statesman

“The Boom marries the muscly prose of a beat reporter with a flair for finding compelling characters and telling anecdotes around this once-obscure oilfield technology.”

– Houston Chronicle

“An excellent, fair-minded, engaging book… Gold’s words tell a dramatic and engrossing story. The book is well-informed and well-told: a great job of reporting.”

– Cleveland Plain Dealer

“Gold brings clarity to a subject awash in hype from all sides. It's a thoughtful, well-written and carefully researched book that provides the best overview yet of the pros and cons of fracking.”

– Contra Costa Times

“[A] revelatory and a cautionary tale…illustrates how dramatically America’s energy equation has been rewritten in less than a decade.”

– Texas Monthly

Resources and Downloads

Freshman Reading:

Pennsylvania State University (2015/2016)

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More books from this author: Russell Gold