Panic at the Pump: The Energy Crisis and the Transformation of American Politics in the 1970s

Meg Jacobs. FSG/Hill and Wang, $27 (384p) ISBN 978-0-8090-5847-1
Jacobs (Pocketbook Politics), a research scholar at Princeton University, chronicles the evolution of American energy policy from the dying embers of New Deal politics, arguing that consumer unwillingness to stomach higher prices at the pump ultimately doomed energy reforms that would have weaned the U.S. economy off imported oil. Determined to break from big-government initiatives that imposed price controls on oil, conservatives such as George H.W. Bush, the “New England country-club Republican” turned Texas oilman, and William Simon, Treasury secretary under presidents Nixon and Ford, drove through policies that left the free market to regulate energy prices, battling New Deal liberals and angry environmentalists at every turn. It’s a riveting ideological clash, played out over decades against a backdrop of fed-up voters waiting in gas lines. Unfortunately, Jacobs chooses to emphasize the nitty-gritty of Congressional politics rather than a more sustained look at the intellectual and social currents that helped propel Reaganite conservatism. The result is shallow political analysis laid out in dull prose. The economic “malaise” of the Carter administration seems to have spilled into Jacobs’s tired recounting of the repeated energy crises the country faced, and the book’s too-brief conclusion offers no new insights into the future of energy politics. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 01/18/2016
Release date: 04/19/2016
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 400 pages - 978-0-8090-7507-2
Open Ebook - 384 pages - 978-0-374-71489-5
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