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The End of Country: Dispatches from the Frack Zone

3.70  ·  Rating details ·  271 ratings  ·  55 reviews
The End of Country is the compelling story about the epic battle for control of one of the richest natural gas deposits the world has ever known: the Marcellus Shale, worth more than one trillion dollars. In a remote northeastern corner of Pennsylvania, an intense conflict begins, pitting the forces of corporate America against a community of stoic, low-income homesteaders ...more
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published June 28th 2011 by Random House (first published January 1st 2011)
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Jun 07, 2012 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Mary by: I heard him interviewed on WSKG
McGraw is a very good writer. Although I always find it dubious and slightly disgusting when a writer gets acclaim for writing for Playboy magazine, which he does. He grew up in Dimock, PA which has since become the epi-center of the hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking, of the Marcellus Shale, to pull natural gas out of the ground. His mother still lives there and he and his sister will inherit her farm and her land. McGraw paints an excellent picture of the history of the place includi ...more
May 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
A fantastic book about one family and their community's decisions and struggles with the discovery of land rich in natural gas and the fracking consequences. 4.5
Apr 21, 2012 rated it really liked it
This is an interesting, thoughtful, well-written book, from an industry outsider, about the rapid increase in gas drilling in the Northeast, a brief history of US oil and gas production and consumption, and what the increase in drilling of late it means for local communities, the environment, and the US economy more generally. I work in the natural gas industry, so I was particularly interested in an outsider’s perspective—the author is a freelance writer who grew up in northeast Pennsylvania an ...more
Sharon Guynup
Jul 04, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This book is a hybrid, mixing lyrical memoir with nonfiction on one of our most pressing issues: energy, specifically natural gas. End of Country focuses on the natural gas "gold rush" in Pennsylvania, where McGraw's family has owned land for over 40 years, where his mother and her neighbors have sold leases to various companies to drill for deep-earth shale gas using controversial fracturing, or "fracking" wells. This book explores the human side of the story, as well as the environmental: how ...more
Nov 22, 2013 rated it it was amazing
as a native pennsylvanian, this was probably extra interesting to me. but no matter where you're from, this is an excellent take on the conflict of politics, money and conscience when it comes to drilling for natural gas. you have to wonder what would happen if these companies would put this money into developing a smart-grid to move renewable energies around this country. most of them seem to have very little concern for what fracking does to the land or to the people who live on it. and even t ...more

At the top of the natural gas industry’s food chain sit men like Aubrey McClendon.

McClendon, the great-nephew of Robert S. Kerr, former Oklahoma governor and founder in 1927 of the Kerr-McGee Corporation, an oil and natural gas company, started out life in the energy industry as a landman. He bought up enough lucrative acreage to make his own Chesapeake Energy either the first or second largest landholder in each of the Barnett, Haynesville/Bossier, Marcel
Jim Layman
Jul 02, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2018
This book is indeed a cautionary tale describing the challenges and confusion in the fracking gas industry as related to tapping the Marcellus Shale reserves deep underneath the rural towns and economically depressed counties of Northeast ( particular to the author) Pennsylvania.

It’s a quick read describing the author’s family and rural neighbors caught up in the “get-rich-quick” turmoil of this 21st century energy/ conservation debate.
Shantel Ramlo
Nov 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I almost exclusively read nonfiction, but books like this are slowly convincing me to switch sides. It's an intelligent and moving look into the impact fracking, and really the energy industry as a whole, has had on Appalachia and its people. It presents both sides of the argument over fracking and natural gas, yet reads like a novel. Highly recommended.
Jul 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Excellent view from the perspective of people who are affected by the fracking boom. It doesn't really pick sides, but shows many different sides. Doesn't pull punches about the impact of fracking but leaves questions to ponder.
Kathleen McFall
Nov 13, 2011 rated it really liked it
Why are we also surprised by capitalism?

Which do you value most? If forced, would you choose instant riches or preservation of the hard scrabble land from which generations of you have barely farmed? Sweet fat lazy royalty checks from a demon oil company or bragging rights about your long-standing, oft-touted concern for global warming and progressive environmental principles? Would you rather have a million dollars (literally) or a myth to sleep with about rural life and pristine Penna. land (
Aug 08, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: danielle
The End of Country is like many other books that have surfaced in the last five or so years on the scarcity of true wilderness and the abuse of natural resources resulting from corporate greed. Seamus McGraw’s story is frightening, even apocalyptic; after all, Nature’s resources are finite. But it needs to be told and, for many residents in Upstate New York like me, its subject is increasingly relevant.

“Hydro-fracking” is the hot topic of the Northeast and, as McGraw so emphatically expresses in
Seamus McGraw's new book, The End of Country, is a sobering account of today's intoxicating bonanza in domestic natural gas production.

The story unfolds in the Appalachian hills and hollows of northeastern Pennsylvania. It's 2007. Advances in drilling have opened up vast reserves of gas buried in deep shale rock, known as the Marcellus formation. Landmen in shiny new gas-company pickups start turning up in small neglected communities. They knock on residents' doors and ingratiate themselves to l
Chris Demer
May 31, 2012 rated it really liked it
This book has special meaning for me as I lived in Northeast PA for my first 11 years, and visited there often throughout the 60s and 70s. I remember the small dairy farms and the difficulty even then of making a decent living from them, as lovely as many of them appeared to outsiders.
And then they discovered gas in the Marcellus Shale. Not just gas, but massive amounts of it. Enough to spend billions of dollars to recover.
Seamus McGraw does an excellent job of looking at both sides of this pic
Gerry Claes
Mar 18, 2013 rated it really liked it
This is the story of the impact that the Marcellus Shale natural gas discovery had on the people of northern Pennsylvania from the perspective of the son of a widow that had their homestead on top of a major find. I thought that this book was going to be a slam on the companies that did the fracking however I found it to be pretty balanced. There certainly are some shysters who are taking advantage of these people however many of them have become quite wealthy and comfortable because of the find ...more
Elaine Tama
Dec 10, 2013 rated it really liked it
This book combines the personal stories of the author, his family, and a few of their neighbors, as they deal with the onslaught of the gas companies coming to the forgotten rural areas of northeastern Pennsylvania, with the facts about "fracking" for natural gas. I stumbled onto this book while reading a newspaper article about the increase in crime in areas of the Midwest where similar natural gas areas are being fracked. Since my family were among the earliest settlers of this beautiful, rura ...more
Jan 15, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
In The End of Country, McGraw goes beyond the predictable cheering for the underdogs. He doesn’t just malign the money-hungry natural gas corporations but looks with a critical eye at the costs of the choices made by all involved. This is a great read, full of humour and affection for all the varied personalities that stepped up in Susquehanna County, Pennsylvania.

There was one particular part of the book that brought home to me the author’s intent. McGraw, who had grown up in Susquehanna County
Sep 12, 2011 rated it it was amazing
What would you do if your family won the lottery? The McGraw family farm in Dimock, Pennsylvania sits atop the Marcellus Shale, possibly one of the largest deposits of natural gas in the world. It is an economically depressed area, and when the mad rush to secure leases and drilling rights begins, the author's mother and many (but not all) of her neighbors stand to become very wealthy indeed. But the use of a relatively new drilling technology, high-volume hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking", is ...more
Oct 04, 2013 rated it liked it
Part memoir, part straight non-fiction, the book is a good intro to the complexities and realities of what's going on in Fracksylvania. The first person perspective helps sympathize with the conflicting emotions people must go through as they choose whether to take a butt load of cash, or watch their neighbors take butt loads of cash. I thought he did a good job explaining in basic terms what fracking even is, and what it can do to the land, water, and communities it infects. It's an easy read, ...more
John Wood
Nov 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This book is great on so many levels! Whether you are interested in the environmental issue, the Marcellus Shale or that area of the country, big corporations dealings with individuals, or real life stories of American life, this book is for you. Seamus McGraw is the perfect person to write this story! His natural storytelling ability, extensive research and the fact he is from the area make this an informative and interesting read. This account of the fracking of the Marcellus shale, one of the ...more
Jul 01, 2011 rated it really liked it
_The End of Country_ tells the story of the place that I am from, North Eastern Pennsylvania, and its recent encounter with the natural gas industry. McGraw does an outstanding job presenting the people of Dimock as complicated actors in their own lives and as portraying the gas industry in all of its complexity as well. Neither anti-fracking polemic or "drill, baby, drill" pro-industry, _The End of Country_ tells stories about a part of the world that few people know and that even fewer people ...more
May 14, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
It may be my disdain for books that aren't particularly enrapturing (blame my age, if you must) but I didn't find this to be the best book. The prose was dry, as is with many mystery authors, and the historical bits seemed a little forced at times. While it was by no means a bad book, it wasn't the greatest introduction one could have to the tracking industry, as it didn't quite focus on the consequences (both good and bad) as much a I personally feel it should have.

That being said, I never thi
May 31, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Very good book and illustrates the double edged sword of any industrial endeavor applied to a poor area. Yes, the opportunities are vast going forward for populations who have lived in poverty yet the sudden infusion of wealth and the incidiously devious agendas foisted upon unsuspecting and uneducated people show the underbelly of the industrial world. Also examines the radical assault of an industrial operaton has on a previously agricultural landscape no matter how many safeguards or modifica ...more
Jun 27, 2015 rated it really liked it
One of the most thoughtful books I've read on the subject. The book takes a personal view of fracking from a journalistic perspective. The author is from a family that stands to gain from fracking, but has its doubt. He meets other members of the community in a similar situation and finds that everything is not what it appears to be. The tradeoff between money and quality of life is clearly evident. While there was no doubt that fracking paid, the benefits were not as great as what was promised ...more
Nina Cornett
I am only a fraction into this book, but the writing is so simple and so evocative that I am captured. Anyone who lives over the Marcellus Shale gas deposits or in any other place natural gas is being extracted,or who has seen the documentary Gasland and wanted to know more, will both enjoy this and find it immensely valuable. The stakes are so high in this area, both for the nation and the people who live on top of natural gas, and we are so far from extracting the gas without harming the peopl ...more
Sep 09, 2011 rated it really liked it
While I usually find myself on the side of allowing companies and corporations to explore natural resources in the United States, I also add the caveat that they do so reponsibly.

This book shows what can happen to a community when they seemingly hit the lottery. Those who have worked the hardscrabble land for generations are suddenly in on a windfall....well, at least some of them.

Find out what happens and who seemingly comes out on top. Very well written and one that I couldn't put down.
Dec 17, 2011 rated it really liked it
I was surprised to find that I didn't want to put this book down until I finished it! I didn't expect the topic and the writer to be so interesting. I highly recommend this title to anyone interested in hydrofracking, the Marcellus shale or the environment as a whole. I have a heavy bias against this type of drilling, but the author helped me to understand why landowners would allow their property to be "fracked." I still don't agree with the practice but I have a fuller picture of the issue hav ...more
Dec 03, 2012 rated it it was amazing
McGraw had questions we all have about what exactly is going on with this gas business. As a former Northeast PA resident, who often is in shock to see the visual changes to the quiet rolling hills and twisty country roads of my youth, the author sought out the answers to so many of my questions. Its honest and trying at times, when the romantic in me still believes in the happy ending that is really never fully possible. Great read, especially if you know the area and are concerned about what m ...more
Rachel Shellabarger
May 07, 2014 rated it really liked it
Great insight into the process behind fracking site development, and the questions that communities face when they're approached about leasing land. Not a definitive source for the technical details of fracking, but it doesn't pretend to be. When someone recently expressed frustration about only finding polarized sources of information about fracking, I recommended this book because it gives consideration to multiple perspectives, rather than just attempting to convince you of the "correct" one.
Casey Kittrell
Sep 18, 2015 rated it it was amazing
If you read one book on fracking, this should be it. Heck, if you read one memoir, one book of environmental history, this should be considered. Russell Gold's The Boom is excellent, but McGraw's book is all about the human side of the equation, and that makes it a must-read for me. Hard to think of a industry that's had a bigger impact on America in the last decade. This book lets you know how the folks on the ground (literally, the ground where the drilling happens) saw it, for better and for ...more
Sep 12, 2011 rated it really liked it
Mr. McGraw skillfully weaves himself and his family into this well-researched look at the on-going geological "revolution" in northeastern Pennsylvania; it reads like a novel with real, live characters, heroes and villians, alike. What's happening in the "Marcellus Plan" could happen in your backyard, too.

In the back cover blurb, Tom Brokaw calls the book "elegantly written" and I agree. A must read for everyone this year.
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