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Energy

A Human History
Written by: Richard Rhodes
Narrated by: Jacques Roy
Length: 11 hrs and 48 mins
Categories: History, World
4 out of 5 stars (13 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Pulitzer Prize- and National Book Award-winning author Richard Rhodes reveals the fascinating history behind energy transitions over time - wood to coal to oil to electricity and beyond.

People have lived and died, businesses have prospered and failed, and nations have risen to world power and declined, all over energy challenges. Ultimately, the history of these challenges tells the story of humanity itself.

Through an unforgettable cast of characters, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Richard Rhodes explains how wood gave way to coal and coal made room for oil, as we now turn to natural gas, nuclear power, and renewable energy. Rhodes looks back on five centuries of progress, through such influential figures as Queen Elizabeth I, King James I, Benjamin Franklin, Herman Melville, John D. Rockefeller, and Henry Ford.

In Energy, Rhodes highlights the successes and failures that led to each breakthrough in energy production, from animal and water power to the steam engine, from internal combustion to the electric motor. He addresses how we learned from such challenges, mastered their transitions, and capitalized on their opportunities. Rhodes also looks at the current energy landscape, with a focus on how wind energy is competing for dominance with cast supplies of coal and natural gas. He also addresses the specter of global warming and a population hurtling toward 10 billion by 2100.

Human beings have confronted the problem of how to draw life from raw material since the beginning of time. Each invention, each discovery, each adaptation brought further challenges, and through such transformations we arrived at where we are today. In Rhodes’ singular style, Energy details how this knowledge of our history can inform our way tomorrow. 

©2018 Richard Rhodes (P)2018 Simon & Schuster Audio

What members say

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Would be an excellent read, but a terrible listen.

The narrator, Jacques Roy, is reason enough to avoid a title. If the mis-pronunciations of reasonably non-technical words isn't bad enough the cheesy character accents completely ruin an otherwise fascinating book.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Photino
  • 2018-07-26

Rhodes si, accents no!

Rhodes’s book Is engaging but is not easy to listen to. Mr. Roy’s attempts at accents are unfortunate and amateurish. He has a pleasant and clear voice. If only he had just read the book and omitted the histrionics.

9 of 9 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • 2018-07-22

Does not disappoint.

An in depth analysis of energy from wood to nuclear to renewables. Rhoades recounts the history of how society, whose existence, limitations, and growth ultimately depend on energy. As those of you who have read his Pulitzer Prize winning book, "The Making of the Atomic Bomb" will note his work is unbiased, straightforward an approach to history. This departs from that only in the final chapter when necessity forces him to draw conclusions from history and project these forward in time. Although some disagreement may exist on the precise nature of how the future might unfold, no thinking person can disagree with the general idea of these conclusions. An excellent work of history and prescient futurism combined.

9 of 9 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Ned Gulley
  • 2018-08-30

No more accents, please!

Hello to Audible narrators, Audible producers, Audible editors: I love your books. I love your service. But please please PLEASE don't use foreign accents when reading nonfiction. It's painfully distracting. This is a terrific book. But, just to take one example: the French inventor Denis Papin did not speak English with a bad French accent. He spoke French. We know that, and we don't need to be reminded of it. When you're reading an English translation of his words, it doesn't help to say it in a bad French accent. Or a good French accent. Or a French accent of any kind. It actually makes it very hard to concentrate on the text. I'm begging you not to do this with other nonfiction books. I might not have ordered this book had I realized how much of this I would have to listen to.

But it is a good book!

16 of 18 people found this review helpful

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  • Peter Jensen
  • 2018-09-09

Poor narration

I did not like how the narrator performed various accents, otherwise the book was fine.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Don Middleton
  • 2018-08-27

Not as comprehensive as perhaps is warranted today.

It is a history, so no peek into what may be just over the horizon, such as “gasoline from sunlight” an industrialization of what plants do with photosynthesis - make a liquid source of energy with sunlight, carbon dioxide, and water. And because he wanted to write a much shorter book, this is not nearly as comprehensive as his two books on the making of the atomic and nuclear bombs. But still, a worthwhile listen. And he makes a great case for keeping nuclear energy as part of the mix of future electrical generation.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Richard
  • 2018-07-08

comprehensive history of energy development

This is a wonderfully comprehensive overview of energy development spanning more than six centuries. It is presented and an ideal technical level that most readers can follow without being bored. The audio performer consistently mispronounces the prefix "giga" as though it were "jiga" e.g. jigawatt. This really grates on the listener's nerves

7 of 9 people found this review helpful

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  • Sabacon
  • 2019-03-07

Good Voice, Poor Reading

To give a printed book analogy of this audio book: You have an interesting story, you choose a lovely font and then make all pages annoyingly hard to read by placing many of the words on the pages without any spaces between them. I had to stop listening, could not finish, the narrators voice is cool and nice like a beautiful font but the manner of reading sounds atrocious in headphones which I have to use.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Clay Wilcox
  • 2019-02-07

Speak Up

Unfortunately the narrator speaks in a tone that is almost a whisper. It makes it unpleasant for me to listen to the book with my headphones. However, the story and the level of detail he goes into is worth the read...just don't listen on headphones.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Paul in Maryland
  • 2019-01-19

Too focused in Modern Anglo- America

essentially this book begins at the Industrial Revolution in England and seldom leaves England or America. I was hoping to go back to the farthest civilizations. Also, I could have done without the American narrators tepid imitations of English, Scottish, Irish, and Russian accents.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 2018-12-03

not bad.

not in-depth enough for my taste. the narrator who spent a little too much time on foreign accents.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful