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California Burning

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California Burning by Katherine Blunt
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Aug 30, 2022 | ISBN 9780593586907 | 582 Minutes

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  • Aug 30, 2022 | ISBN 9780593330654

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“[PG&E’s] story comes in a recognisably irresistible form: juicy backroom dealings, Wall Street leeches, hapless politicians…Some of the most entertaining exchanges take place within the corridors of power in California’s state government, with a mood reminiscent of HBO’s The Wire.”
Financial Times

“[An] intensely researched, deeply unsettling chronicle . . . Blunt delivers detailed accounts of complex, ongoing political, business, and courtroom maneuvers that would overwhelm readers if not for her abundant journalistic skills. . . A compelling and heart-wrenching study.”
Kirkus Reviews

“Blunt’s book is not a technical tome but a drama, a human tragedy, loaded with fascinating characters and tales of death and destruction, incompetence and chicanery, malfeasance and greed. Any detail necessary to understand the electric grid and how it works is woven seamlessly and clearly through the narrative.”
LA Times

“Diligent reporting and a clear focus make this a must-read for anyone interested in the future of energy.”
Publishers Weekly

“Copiously researched . . . Only a careful excavation such as Blunt’s can chart the thin course between wrongdoing, simple incompetence, poor governance, and bad luck.”
Science Magazine

“A portrait of a state in crisis . . . Blunt is a thorough reporter and a lucid writer. She makes the struggle to supply California with power on a warming planet clear and compelling.”
San Francisco Chronicle

“One does not need to be interested specifically in utilities or the energy industry at large to appreciate this book-length reportage . . . If you were a business leader having to choose between the latest self-help pablum that populates much of the literature about how corporations work and California Burning, you certainly should choose the latter.”
American Affairs Journal

“This urgent and compelling book is a wild tale of old-school corporate malfeasance colliding with the scary new realities of climate change, a story that only grows more important with each passing dry season. The cast of characters—including feckless corporate managers, criminal commodity traders, and crusading public prosecutors—seems straight out of a Hollywood script. But this story is all too real, and its implications matter to everyone. This is literally the story of who controls power in America, and how they have misused it.”
Christopher Leonard, New York Times bestselling author of Kochland and The Lords of Easy Money
California Burning is more than an entertaining and important depiction of the fall of a key American company. It’s an examination of how unprepared we are for the dangers of climate change and how unwilling we are to invest in keeping critical systems safe as we transition to cleaner energy.”
Gregory Zuckerman, author of A Shot to Save the World
“Katherine Blunt’s gripping writing takes you through the bankruptcies, lawsuits, and human tragedies to illustrate a company in a long, slow-motion decline. An absolutely fascinating tale filled with extraordinary insights, and highly recommended for anyone who likes to see rich narrative writing and investigative reporting at its finest.”
T. Christian Miller, author of A False Report and winner of two Pulitzer Prizes

“Told with care, rigor, and an old-school attention to detail, Katherine Blunt’s California Burning is the ultimate history–and indictment–of the utility company that lit the state on fire. The climate crisis leaves no room for laziness and greed. This should be required reading for citizens, regulators, and everyone who cares about living safely and well on our heating earth.”
Elizabeth Weil, features writer at New York magazine, co-author of New York Times bestseller The Girl Who Smiled Beads

California Burning reads like an energy thriller, filled with intrigue and complete with villains, victims, fraudsters, politicians, and heroes. Most of us already know the ending –bankruptcies, power outages, wildfires, death and destruction – but few of us know the plot. Blunt fills that in for us by masterfully investigating the missing details to paint a colorful picture of the consequences from a century-plus of decisions and indecisions. Though I have studied energy closely for two decades, I learned something new on every page.”
Michael Webber, author of Power Trip and chief technology officer at Energy Impact Partners

California Burning left me rattled. Katherine Blunt’s reporting is searing and essential. This book gracefully pulls together a complex story whose consequences may never end.”
Jon Mooallem, author of Serious Face and This Is Chance!

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