Episode for May 24, 2021
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My new book, Up to Heaven and Down to Hell: Fracking, Freedom, and Community in an American Town (Princeton University Press, April 2021), is an intimate, ethnographic account of what happens when one of the most momentous decisions about the well-being of our communities and our planet—whether or not to extract shale gas and oil from the very land beneath our feet—is largely a private choice that millions of ordinary people make without the public’s consent. Based on time I spent living in a rural Pennsylvania community, the book documents the dramatic confrontation between personal sovereignty and the public good that unfolds from the fact that landowners have the right to lease the subsurface of their property for oil and gas development. This “deeply reported” (Publisher’s Weekly) community study reveals “the tradeoffs that follow from America’s liberty-loving ways” (Sarah Smarsh [author of Heartland], the Atlantic). What’s more, it serves as a lens through which to understand the cultural polarization that drives so much of contemporary American politics and stymies efforts to combat climate change.
Click here for a complete list of reviews, events, and media related to the book.
Click here to purchase the book.
CLick here to download and read the introduction for free.
Click here to read an essay from this project published in Slate.
My first book, The Global Pigeon (2013, University of Chicago Press), examines how relationships with animals and nature shape social life in the city. Click here to read an essay I adapted from The Global Pigeon for the New York Times Sunday Review.
Click here to visit my twin brother’s website. He’s a real scientist.