Powering the Dream by Alexis Madrigal
The History and Promise of Green Technology

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Few today realize that electric cabs dominated Manhattan's streets in the 1890s; that Boise, Idaho, had a geothermal heating system in 1910; or that the first megawatt turbine in the world was built in 1941 by the son of publishing magnate G. P. Putnam--a feat that would not be duplicated for another forty years. Likewise, while many remember the oil embargo of the 1970s, few are aware that it led to a corresponding explosion in green-technology research that was only derailed when energy prices later dropped.

In other words: We've been here before. Although we may have failed, America has had the chance to put our world on a more sustainable path. Americans have, in fact, been inventing green for more than a century.

Half compendium of lost opportunities, half hopeful look toward the future, Powering the Dream tells the stories of the brilliant, often irascible inventors who foresaw our current problems, tried to invent cheap and energy renewable solutions, and drew the blueprint for a green future.


About Alexis Madrigal

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Alexis Madrigal is senior editor and lead technology writer for TheAtlantic.com and an award-winning former staff writer for Wired.com. He is a visiting scholar at the University of California, Berkeley, and a regular guest on NPR. He lives in Washington, D.C
Published March 29, 2011 by Da Capo Press. 386 pages
Genres: Computers & Technology, Nature & Wildlife, Professional & Technical, Science & Math, Business & Economics, Political & Social Sciences, Education & Reference, History. Non-fiction

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The author provides vest-pocket biographies of energy mavens, including Palmer Putnam and his giant windmill and physicists like Arthur Rosenfeld, who “broke the psychological link that generations had made between increased levels of fossil-fuel use and economic growth.” Madrigal also offers a d...

Apr 22 2011 | Read Full Review of Powering the Dream: The Histo...

BC Books

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Alexis Madrigal’s Powering the Dream smashes the myths and misconceptions of green energy perpetrated by the press and politicians.

Jul 09 2011 | Read Full Review of Powering the Dream: The Histo...

New York Journal of Books

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To overcome this limitation “the overall energy system has to be shaped so it can accommodate natural energy flows.” The answer is to find a way of storing energy.

Mar 29 2011 | Read Full Review of Powering the Dream: The Histo...

Review (Barnes & Noble)

With this stimulating, surprising, meticulously researched book, Alexis Madrigal confers on the green technology movement the valuable gift of historical perspective, a roadmap of past failures and triumphs that can help our society today to form a sensible prospectus for our future survival and ...

May 17 2011 | Read Full Review of Powering the Dream: The Histo...

The Atlantic

Apr 30, 2014.

Aug 09 2010 | Read Full Review of Powering the Dream: The Histo...


Discussing the ongoing tug of war in the Mojave Desert between protecting habitat for endangered species and developers of large-scale solar power installations (protect habitat of one species versus helping protect the habitat of lots of species, humans included), Madrigal writes, The environmen...

Jun 21 2011 | Read Full Review of Powering the Dream: The Histo...

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