• A Question of Power

  • Electricity and the Wealth of Nations
  • By: Robert Bryce
  • Narrated by: Robert Bryce
  • Length: 8 hrs and 41 mins
  • 4.6 out of 5 stars (113 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Historically, it was guns, germs, and steel that determined the fates of people and nations. Now, more than ever, it is electricity.

Global demand for power is doubling every two decades, but electricity remains one of the most difficult forms of energy to supply and do so reliably. Today, some three billion people live in places where per-capita electricity use is less than what's used by an average American refrigerator. How we close the colossal gap between the electricity rich and the electricity poor will determine our success in addressing issues like women's rights, inequality, and climate change. 

In A Question of Power, veteran journalist Robert Bryce tells the human story of electricity, the world's most important form of energy. Through onsite reporting from India, Iceland, Lebanon, Puerto Rico, New York, and Colorado, he shows how our cities, our money - our very lives - depend on reliable flows of electricity. He highlights the factors needed for successful electrification and explains why so many people are still stuck in the dark. 

With vivid writing and incisive analysis, he powerfully debunks the notion that our energy needs can be met solely with renewables and demonstrates why - if we are serious about addressing climate change - nuclear energy must play a much bigger role. 

Electricity has fueled a new epoch in the history of civilization. A Question of Power explains how that happened and what it means for our future. 

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying PDF will be available in your Audible Library along with the audio.  

©2020 Robert Bryce (P)2020 Hachette Audio

Critic Reviews

"Of all the aspects of modern life in the developed world, flipping a switch and having the lights come on ranks as one of the most underrated. It's good to be reminded, as Bryce does through powerful examples, that such convenience was unheard of until the late nineteenth century... In this wide-ranging history of electricity, power expert Bryce takes readers beyond the table lamp and microwave to demonstrate how crucial safe, dependable, and plentiful electricity is to a host of contemporary innovations, from cryptocurrency mining to marijuana cultivation." (Booklist)

"Shocking revelations about electricity.... A robust look at where the juice flows around the planet - and its planetary implications." (Kirkus Reviews)

What listeners say about A Question of Power

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Not the complete story

It was obvious of your bias against Windturbine‘s. You’ve interviewed a lot of people that were upset by them. I don’t doubt about that but you did not interview any of the people that were forced out of their home because of the nuclear disaster whether it was the one in the Soviet union Chernobyl or the one in Japan Fukushima.
Your knowledge about battery Technology was also very weak. You only mentioned lithium and lead acid both of which are not good for storing energy for long-term purposes. Zinc is a very good way to store electricity. Roughly speaking one cubic yard of zinc can run the average household in America for one fill year.
The new design of the Darius wind turbine which are also the vertical types can be placed so close to each other that they can increase the energy density 30 Fold compared to the conventional Windturbine‘s.
I was hoping I would get a lot more out of this book than I did.

7 people found this helpful

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Disappointing anti-renewable energy propaganda

Unfortunately the author makes no effort to understand the benefits of a diversified generation mix and seeks to paint any support of renewable generation as environmental extremism or uneconomic naïveté. He quite deftly uses quite dated data sources when it suits. He doth protest too much! This is no seminal work or reference material.

6 people found this helpful

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Amazing depth of research.

In a lot of these books you get a feel for the authors personal politics. I got no such feel here. He savages both parties for their energy sins and praises them for their energy wins. A good read unless you are terrified of nuclear energy.

5 people found this helpful

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Essential Reading (or listening)

Such a well written book on how power defines almost every aspect of modern life, and how lack of it relegates billions of people to subsistence living.
It is clear that people need more than a solar panel on the roof to power the lives they would like to live and give to their children.



5 people found this helpful

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What about the Candy

My over well review of this book is positive. However on several occasions he mentions the electrical and political history of the Canadian province of Ontario. In particular he mentions that provinces ban on coal fired power generation and the subsidies paid to wind and solar producers leading to sharply increased power rates. He goes on to describe how the province’s Progressive conservative party won the 2016 election over increasing power rates. But in the entire book he does not once mention the reliable deployment ofCanada’s CANDU nuclear fleet that produces about 60% of Ontario’s electricity. The Candu has a near spotless record of safety and reliability setting world records for in-service reliability. Coal in Ontario was not displaced by gas or renewables it was displaced by about 12 Gigawatts of nuclear power!

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fantastic

One of the best climate change books, a must read for anyone looking to become informed on the issues we face.

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Interesting ideas but should be 50% shorter

I thought that the idea was very interesting and I learned a few things. Unfortunately, the book was way too long and became tedious after a while. Again, interested idea but this book should be greatly condensed.

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Important Everybody Read this

This book is important to understanding Energy Policy in 2022. It advocates for nuclear energy and gives a practical reason why.

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A question of power answers. many questions

This is a thoroughly researched book dense with facts and figures. Tracing the historical arc of power in the United States, the sources, transmission and storage, it. it we use a story that is both interesting and instructive as we continue to consume more electricity.

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