Blowout: Corrupted Democracy, Rogue State Russia, and the Richest, Most Destructive Industry on Earth

Rachel Maddow. Crown, $30 (432p) ISBN 978-0-525-57547-4
Petroleum-industry profits inexorably subvert good governance, argues this scattershot indictment of the oil and natural gas industries. Maddow (Drift), host of MSNBC’s The Rachel Maddow Show, surveys Big Oil’s recent misdeeds, including Western oil companies’ support for Equatorial Guinea’s Obiang dictatorship, the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill, and blocking rules to regulate fracking practices that cause earthquake swarms and pollution in Oklahoma (while the same companies demand tax breaks). Anchoring the book is Russian president Vladimir Putin’s cutthroat petropolitics. Maddow contends he turned Russia’s oil and gas sectors into cesspools of corruption and inefficiency, seized well-managed private oil companies and arrested their CEOs, and made energy a foreign policy weapon while getting investments and technology from ExxonMobil. Maddow tells these stories in colorful, sardonic prose—she pillories Putin’s campaign “to piss in the punch bowl of free elections all over the civilized world”—but the resulting hodgepodge doesn’t always support her portrayal of oil and gas as a “singularly destructive industry” that “effectively owns” governments; her absorbing account of Putin’s skullduggery is really about a vampiric government victimizing the oil industry (and includes an unconvincing link to Trump-Russia collusion theories). Maddow’s absorbing but inconsistent exposé demonizes more than it analyzes. Agent: Laurie Liss, Sterling Lord Literistic. (Oct.)
Reviewed on : 08/12/2019
Release date: 10/01/2019
Genre: Nonfiction
Compact Disc - 978-1-9848-4672-3
Paperback - 485 pages - 978-0-593-15345-1
Show other formats
Audio book sample courtesy of Penguin Random House Audio
Discover what to read next