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The Quest: Energy, Security, and the Remaking of the Modern World

4.0 of 5 stars 4.00  ·  rating details  ·  1,921 ratings  ·  220 reviews
Selected by The New York Times Book Review as a Notable Book of the Year In this gripping account of the quest for the energy that our world needs, Daniel Yergin continues the riveting story begun in his Pulitzer Prize-winning book, The Prize. A master storyteller as well as a leading energy expert, Yergin shows us how energy is an engine of global political and economic c ...more
Hardcover, 805 pages
Published September 20th 2011 by Penguin Press (first published January 1st 2011)
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3rd out of 29 books — 19 voters
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2nd out of 14 books — 4 voters

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Community Reviews

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This book is a very comprehensive treatment of all the issues related to energy. The book systematically describes the history, economics, development, transportation, security, and future of the main sources of energy; oil, natural gas, coal, nuclear, electricity, renewable (wind, solar, hydroelectric, plant-based), and "conservation". The danger of greenhouse gas causing climate change is also described in detail. After reading this book, I finally understand why we keep hearing predictions th ...more
This is something quite extraordinary.

A sprawling, epic story covering energy and its effects on policy, with characters and topics and events from the beginning of the industrial revolution to the death of Osama and the Fukushima nuclear disaster. Covers oil, the petrostate, war, electricity, the computer age, climate change, the new carbon economy, renewable energy, and what is to be done in the future. And all this in a very lucid and readable style.

I would go so far as to say that the search
Mal Warwick
Daniel Yergin’s Superb New Book: A Brilliant Survey of Energy Issues

Some two centuries ago a profound economic shift upset the traditional relations of East and West. With the advent of the Industrial Revolution, Western Europe and the United States began to overtake the great civilizations of China and India, the planet's wealthiest and most sophisticated societies throughout most of recorded history.

Now those two centuries of increasing imbalance are coming to an end, the result of the combine
Mar 24, 2013 Ilya rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: energy
A bird's-eye survey of today's world of energy. Most of the discussion is centered on oil, which is Yergin's specialty. The world seems to have used up 1 trillion barrels of the stuff since the modern oil industry appeared in the late 19th century; there are 4 more to go. Much of the oil is hard to obtain: in Canada and Venezuela it is mixed with sand; off the shore of Brazil, it is under 2 kilometers of water and 5 kilometers of salt. Yet Yergin is dismissive of peak oil theorists: each decade, ...more
Narrated by Robert Petkoff

29 hrs and 31 mins

Publisher's Summary

In this gripping account of the quest for the energy that our world needs, Daniel Yergin continues the riveting story begun in his Pulitzer Prize-winning book, The Prize.

A master storyteller as well as a leading energy expert, Yergin shows us how energy is an engine of global political and economic change. It is a story that spans the energies on which our civilization has been built and the new energies that are competing to replace
The sequel of "The Prize", which focuses on the history of oil. The author deals in "The Quest" with the short period about oil that was left uncovered in the "The Prize", starting from the second Gulf War (invasion of Kuwait). In the meanwhile, oil has further dominated world politics: Chavez, Saddam Hussein, Nigeria and Iran. Next to that, the oil industry got involved in several mergers & acquisitions: Conocco Phillips, BP Amoco, Exxon Mobil and Total Elf to name a few.

Contrary to Fukuyam
Yergin's description of the history of modern energy and its effects on the global economy and politics was surprisingly easy to read and quite enjoyable. It's a bit long--don't read it if you're unwilling to spend some time looking at the oil politics and various warscrises of the Middle East and the former USSR. Personally I found all of that history very helpful. While I knew that oil drives a lot of international politics I never knew just how much, or really how important it is to the gover ...more
Energy debates in the U.S. public policy are focused around independence and oil. Yergin details the development, production, history and economics of the various energy resources that are used right now and the potential of those in development.

Why I started this book: It's been on the Army's recommended reading list for a while and I found an audio copy.

Why I finished it: Exhaustively researched, I was amazed to learn that this is the 5th time that we have been at the brink of running out of o
Broad and shallow where The Prize is narrow and deep, The Quest is at best a half-sequel to Yergin's epic history of the oil industry. It's a serviceable tour of the horizon over all the issues related to energy in the twenty-first century - oil, renewables, nuclear, electricity generation, conservation, climate change, etc. - and as a result is a less cohesive and ultimately less entertaining book than his earlier book. In The Prize, Yergin offers in-depth portraits of key players and detailed ...more
Paulo Goncalves
Fantastico, !! cobre o desenvolvimento historico do uso do petroleo , da energia eletrica e chega aos dias de hoje com energia eolica, solar e etanol
In a quest to do some light reading this summer, I picked up The Quest and dove right in.

No, I'm kidding. I knew going into this, that this book would be a heavy book to read, full of lots of information and many things to put inside my head.

I found the book fascinating. I learned many things. I've already forgotten much of what was in here - it's a long book with a lot of things in it. But I feel like my big picture understanding is light years ahead of where it was before I picked this book up
In contrast to his previous epic of energy, The Prize, Yergin's updated offering, The Quest, deals with a far more complex, and controversial matter, energy diversity and sustainability.
The Quest begins with the familiar, and all too ubiquitous, energy source, oil. Following on from The Quest, Yergin examines the new developments within the oil industry, such as the return of Russia to the scene, the resource race around the Caspian, the rise of super majors, and the impact of conflict upon the
Jeff Easterling
The Quest offers an exhaustive history and depiction of the modern, international energy industry for a casual reader. Exhaustive and casual are words typically not used together, but they describe Yergin's 800-page narrative of the modern industry's rise and its politics. The Quest is best described as collection of primers: on oil and gas competition in the post Cold War Era, American energy security, the development of electric power in America and renewable energy.

Yergin's voice is strongest
Void lon iXaarii
I was really happy to find a book on this topic which I believe is crucial for the wellbeing of pretty much all people. In my opinion in the book there were way too many of what I call "newspaper style" introductions, where instead of presenting research data the author would make long winded descriptions of characters and moments of time/day/season. All in all I learned a lot of interesting stories and data from the book which is why it was worth the money and time, but at the same time it was ...more
I didn’t enjoy ‘The Quest’ quite as much as The Prize: The Epic Quest for Oil, Money, and Power, but it is an equally well-written and compelling read. The earlier book has a simple chronological structure, whereas this one has a wider scope and darts about in time. As a result, the discussion of renewables appears slightly fragmented. Nonetheless, this is a very solid, thorough, and interesting account of recent and current energy issues. It provides a useful contextual synthesis for those stud ...more
Justin Tapp
The Quest: Energy, Security, and the Making of the Modern World by Daniel Yergin
This book was on a recommended reading list produced by the State Department under the "(Geographic) Area Studies" subheading. I would not recommend it as informational about any particular region in the world. I did not find it nearly as enjoyable as Yergin and Stanislaus' Commanding Heights, which I was surprised is not on the State Department's reading list. The first 1/3 is on the history of energy and developmen
As in "The Prize," Yergin writes a gripping, detailed history of the global quest for energy, of all kinds: oil, as in his previous book, but also renewables (solar energy, wind, and other consumables), coal, natural gas, and nuclear, continuing from the end point of "The Prize," (about 1990) to 2012. The issues involved in finding, processing, transporting and consuming all these different types of energy are complicated and political, but Yergin explains these things in a clear and comprehensi ...more
Fausto Betances
From a historical perspective, this book provides a priceless account of the evolution of energy sources and its impact in policy around the world. It is a great exposition of how major powers look at energy security as a major component of national security.

The book's delivery is not passionate but rather fact based and provides a common sense approach to conclusions. That's a good angle to choose as I doubt the author (or hardly anyone) had direct access to all the information included.

The bo
Chris Bauer
Or as I call it "Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Energy But Didn't Know Who to Ask."

An utterly fascinating look at every aspect of ENERGY; from the geopolitics, to history, to companies, to other energy sources, to future innovation and its impact on our lives.

While it was a very demanding and lengthy book, I could not put it down. Every chapter builds well upon previous chapters to create a historical and geographical mosaic of how energy affects everyone and everything.

I very much en
A well researched, finely written, eye opening view of what is called "Black Gold." This book spans the ages, from the discovery of fossil fuels and sticks with current affairs about the evolution of the commodity that has become a little bit more demystified yet greatly sought after as the biggest source of energy across the world. Daniel Yergin has provided a great historical backdrop to educate everyone about the great oil industry, the past, the present and the future. A wonderful read if yo ...more
Jake Wellman
The manual of energy in the 21st century, Yergin's encyclopedia answers all the questions a modern "all of the above" energy strategy elicits in concerned citizens. In an age marked by security, environmental, and economic crises, our sources of energy are central to every aspect of everyday life and modern geopolitics. After reading The Quest, one can proceed with at least an objective knowledge base of the wide array of energy sources available to the modern society. One clear takeaway--no sou ...more
Sep 27, 2011 Rioman marked it as to-read - review from nytimes
Christian Dibblee
Compared to The Prize, this book is rather disjointed and, at points, a little boring. But overall there's a lot to like, as Yergin is an engaging writer, even in topics where he might not be as learned.

One of the biggest points across this book is that the U.S. should look outside its borders to find good examples of how renewables and alternatives can be used. For instance, the feed-in tariff in Germany substantially helped the wind industry to gain traction in the electricity of Europe. Brazi
Glen Stott
It took me several months to read and digest this book. It is 685 pages of text and about 200 pages of back of the book stuff – notes, index, etc. Yergin digs through a mound of information regarding nearly every aspect related to energy. I was surprised at how thoroughly he covers the subject. He begins with fossil fuels, primarily oil and natural gas and includes a good deal of information about coal. He moves from there to electricity, and nuclear. His work includes the behind the scenes meet ...more
Yergin's writing is consistently good. This is a tome of information, authoritative and (seemingly) well grounded. If you're going to work in energy markets, this book is probably one of the first you'll want to read.

Occasionally I found my mind wandering, more so later in the book in the chapters on renewable energy, so either my attention span ran out of steam or the book could use some tightening, particularly in the policy discussions. The history was consistently interesting, however.
Initial Review (Audio 10 of 37) This is going to be a long book (862 pages or roughly 30 audio hours). I've learned alot about Russian oil and South American oil. So many geopolitical events play out that we never hear about.

Finished. The first 10 of 37 audio tracks was mostly history and I put the book away for 2 months until restarting. This is also book #9 of an environment & earth sciences collection of books I'm trying to get through.

Once I started back into the book, I found the transi
McKenzie Dickens
Where It All Comes From

It’s not everyday that one considers where the source of energy comes from. Our energy is so seamlessly weaved into everyday life that it’s easy to forget that the supply chain has a beginning. The process doesn’t stop when you turn on a lamp, use your multitude of gadgets or fill up your ultra efficient Toyota Prius. This topic is explored in Daniel Yergin’s The Quest, a massive, comprehensive examination of the world we live in through the lense of global energy consump
Brian Eshleman
I think the overarching word would be MASSIVE. Within this work, the author does a good job outlining prevailing friends that connect the dots from historical incident to historical incident. He also directs scenes that give the personal touch to these trends. These vignettes, at times, are the only things that probably keep most readers moving through this enormous work.

The work would be more approachable if Daniel Yergin narrowed himself down to one or two aspects of energy. As it is, he follo
Surprisingly more interesting than it should have been, this hefty tome tries to cover where we are today in terms of energy supply by covering where we've come from and where we might be going. It's a fairly exhaustive read, ideal for Kindle because of the weight of the hardback and, despite all his new energy deliberations, a few trees went into pulp to produce this epic survey.
I was quite pleased to get through the whole book, which must be a testament to its readability and style. Prior to t
In many ways, I think The Quest was really a tale of two books. In one book, Daniel Yergin picks up where he left off in The Prize and chronicles the trials and tribulations in the oil world from about 1990 until present day and he does so with clarity and an ease for story-telling that matches his previous tome. In the second book, he gives a forward-looking account of the world's quest (get the title) for energy. He discusses a myriad of potential sources ranging from natural gas to ...more
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Anyone feel it's inappropriate to read The Quest before The Prize? 6 31 Sep 28, 2013 10:15AM  
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Daniel Yergin is the author of the new bestseller The Quest: Energy, Security, and the Remaking of the Modern World which has been hailed as “a fascinating saga” about the “quest for sustainable resources of energy,” and “the book you must read to understand the future of our economy and our way of life,” not to mention “necessary reading for C.E.O.’s, conservationists, lawmakers, generals, spies, ...more
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“A lesson in bringing about true changes of mind and heart comes from a Japanese functionary. By day, he crunched numbers that showed his country was approaching imminent energy crisis and helped to craft policy. By night, he weaved a novel in which a bureaucrat-hero helps see the country through to new energy sources. When the crisis came faster than he expected, he actually put the novel away because he did not want to make the burden of his countrymen worse. When the short-term crisis passed, he published his novel. It's phenomenal and well-timed success fueled the vision that inspired difficult change and maintained a sense of urgency.” 2 likes
“An important United Nations environmental conference went past 6:00 in the evening when the interpreters' contracted working conditions said they could leave. They left, abandoning the delegates unable to talk to each other in their native languages. The French head of the committee, who had insisted on speaking only in French throughout the week suddenly demonstrated the ability to speak excellent English with English-speaking delegates.” 1 likes
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