‘Blowout’ by Rachel Maddow

I’ve been poring over Rachel Maddow’s second book, ‘Blowout,’ with great satisfaction and amazement. I’ve been watching the news for the last twenty years, and this book is like a concordance that explains it all and puts it into context.

This book connects the lack of tornado shelters for Oklahoma school children with the Russian annexation of Crimea, the advent of fracking and horizontal drilling, and the increase in the number of earthquakes in Oklahoma from two a year for sixty years to five hundred in a single year.

The subtitle says it all: “Corrupted Democracy, Rogue State Russia, and the Richest, Most Destructive Industry on Earth.”

She starts with the internationally recognized phenomenon known as the “resource curse,” which has been observed in all oil and gas-rich nations without strongly established democratic institutions, and that is, simply, that the quality of life declines for most of the people because the elites are profiting from the oil and gas revenue, and the elites have plenty of money to consolidate their hold on power.

And, guess what? Western oil companies find it easier to deal with despots, where they find ‘one-stop shopping’ for drilling operations than democracies that demand safety from environmental damage and a share of the profits. Hooda thunkit?

Igor Sechin
Igor Sechin

Add to this Putin’s rogue state that relies on oil and gas for its sustenance, the deplorable, willful ignorance of US state and federal legislators of the environmental and human cost of fracking, and you get a level of outrage that is almost unsustainable.

Yet we soldier along faithfully with Rachel and we never lose hope.

I find Rachel as an author much more engaging than Rachel as a news anchor because when she does the news, she’s so fucking careful to make her point four times or more. I’m going “OK, OK, OK, I get the point.”

In her books we see the Rhodes Scholar and the Oxford PhD writing for a more bookish audience, tho she still uses words like ‘ginormous.’ And she does a great job of making her narrative readable.

For instance, when she describes Putin’s lapdog Igor Sechin, president of Russia’s largest oil company. She remarks that Sechin seldom smiles. “Just as well,” she writes. “When Sechin did smile, he looked like a fairy-tale ogre who had just swallowed a small, tasty child.”

I hate saying this, but if you want to make sense of the news in the twenty-first century, you have to read this book, and take my word for it, Rachel Maddow the Oxford don makes it easy and enjoyable, despite the outrage.