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Blowout: Corrupted Democracy, Rogue State Russia, and the Richest, Most Destructive Industry on Earth

4.43  ·  Rating details ·  4,446 ratings  ·  738 reviews
#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • Big Oil and Gas Versus Democracy—Winner Take All

In 2010, the words “earthquake swarm” entered the lexicon in Oklahoma. That same year, a trove of Michael Jackson memorabilia—including his iconic crystal-encrusted white glove—was sold at auction for over $1 million to a guy who was, officially, just the lowly forestry minister of the tiny
Kindle Edition, 405 pages
Published October 1st 2019 by Crown
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Start your review of Blowout: Corrupted Democracy, Rogue State Russia, and the Richest, Most Destructive Industry on Earth
Will Byrnes
I like driving a pickup and heating my house as much as the next person, and the through line between energy and economic growth and development is as clear to me as an electric streetlight piercing the black night. But the political impact of the industry that brings us those things is also worth recognizing as a key ingredient in the global chaos and democratic downturn we’re now living through.
Rachel Maddow is the top news personality at MSNBC, host of The Rachel Maddow Show for the last
Sep 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
If you’re a regular viewer of her show (or, like me, a regular listener to her podcast) you’re aware that Rachel’s stories come with EXHAUSTIVE background, preambles, and prefatory material. But, if you’re a regular viewer of her show, you know the windup is worth it. This book takes a little while to get off the ground, but eventually it soars.
Oct 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I’ve had this book on my TBR since the day it was announced and none of my excitement diminished when I was rejected for the ARC. It only meant I had to wait for the release day and I’m glad I did, because now I got the opportunity to both read the book and listen to the audiobook narrated by Rachel herself, which was an absolutely riveting experience.

If you have read any of my reviews before, particularly the non fiction ones, you know I’m fairly liberal, so it should not come as a surprise
Well, this has been quite a reading experience: a sequence of “aha” and “I remember that” moments followed by my absorbing the deeper meaning behind a news story or legislative moment that occurred sometime within the past several years. As a news junkie since childhood, I knew something about most of the subjects that Maddow covers in her over-arching view of the oil industry at work throughout the world. Even my most pessimistic self would not have imagined the inner workings of the U.S. ...more
I recently read Maddow’s first book entitled “Drift” about the military-industrial complex. I felt that reading that book first helped me understand her method of presenting complicated data.

The book is well-written and meticulously researched. I am impressed at how thorough Maddow is with her research and analysis. She apparently was attempting to understand why Russia meddled in our 2016 election and ended up completing an academic research and analysis of the oil and gas industry. Maddow also
Aug 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Blowout! :Corrupted Democracy, Rouge State Russia, and The Richest, Most Destructuve Industry on Earth
by Rachel Maddow
due 10-1-2019

#netgalley. #Blowout

What the Frack is going on with the oil and gas industry? How did we, as a Democratic country, get to this point? Regardless of age, sex, race, religion, political beliefs, etc., how did we become dependent on a global industry built on corruption, greed and incompetence?
Rachel Maddow brings it all together and makes this complicated
Sep 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: netgalley
I thought I should read Blowout by Rachel Maddow. Should being the giveaway word to my motivation. Instead of a dose of medicine that's good for me but hard to swallow, it was a terrifying funhouse ride that totally engaged my attention! Maddow weaves together a narrative of how we 'got to here' that illumines the present.

Maddow lays out the oil industry's history from Standard Oil to fracking to Putin's dream of Russia becoming the world's fuel provider to trolls on Facebook disseminating
John Hatley
Nov 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This amazing and brilliant book gets five stars from me. I'm not normally known for reading non-fiction--especially current events usually make me furious--but I can highly recommend this book for anyone who is interested in returning a minimum of democracy to democratic governments and breaking the strangle-hold of big industry, not just the oil and gas industry, on governments east and west. Very well researched and, as one might expect from Rachel Maddow, she manages also to spice the book ...more
Barbara (The Bibliophage)
When I finished Blowout by Rachel Maddow, I had to wash all the residual oil slick off my skin. The book is just that immersive in the oil industry. Not to mention a different kind of Kremlin-based, Putin-esque oiliness. Wow, this book contains nothing less than a gusher of information.

Blowout is sub-titled Corrupt Democracy, Rogue State Russia, and the Richest, Most Destructive Industry on Earth. I started it hoping to better understand the messy state of 2019 politics. I got that, and then
Suanne Laqueur
One million stars. I listened to the audible version and it was like Rachel telling me secrets. Especially the sections about Harold Hamm's divorce case. Hamm's wife's name is Sue Ann. And so I got to hear Rachel say my name over and over and over and... Sorry, where was I?

Besides her bottomless well of knowledge, impeccable explanations, dry wit and incomparable expertise in weaving all the parts together, you get to hear Rachel curse (which I wish she would do on air, but I'm weird like that.)
It's true confession time. The one and only reason I wanted to read this book was because I adore Rachel Maddow. She's smart and funny and a meticulous researcher and a superb writer. I tried and tried with this book, both in print and on audio, where I got to listen to Rachel's dulcet tones reading her own work. Sadly, no amount of Maddow love can overcome my non-existent interest in the oil industry. Sigh.

The dedication...

Blowout book tour dates and locations announced!: Rachel Maddow alerts viewers that book tour dates in connection with her forthcoming book, "Blowout," have officially been announced, with tickets available through links at

Coming October 2019: Blowout
Description: Big Oil and Gas Versus Democracy—Winner Take All: Rachel Maddow’s Blowout offers a dark, serpentine, riveting tour of the unimaginably lucrative and corrupt oil-and-gas industry. With her
Oct 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
There are few people that can take a complicated subject, woven through with various *other* subjects seemingly at random, and make them ALL make sense. Rachel Maddow is one of those few. I bought this as soon as we got a copy in the store, and finished it last night. What I read made my head spin - not from confusion, but from frustration and anger at seeing just one more way that the oil and gas industry have ruined so much of the global world. Now, don't get me wrong - they have been ...more
Aug 13, 2019 rated it it was ok
I love Rachel Maddow, I wanted to give this book a try, however I found this book frankly a little boring, It just didn't keep my attention
Susan Stuber
Oct 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
No wonder this book almost killed you, Rachel. How you were able to do the research for this book, much less put it together with such brilliance in your regular causticly humorous style, and at the same time manage to carry on with your regular TV program, is beyond me.

But let this one citizen and faithful follower thank you. Who knows, as this present crisis careens towards a hairpin curve, if your book will make any difference in the end. Who will come unscathed out of the wreckage? For
Elise Musicant
Sep 30, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: owned
This book was very interesting, but the problem I had through it all was that I couldn’t figure out what it was about. Was it about corruption in the oil industry? How Russia devolved into the country it is today? How oil affects politics? There were a lot of interesting threads in this book, and they all tied together, but it felt like the writer was trying to tell too many stories.

I could tell this book was well researched. It was dense, however, with very long paragraphs. I found I had to
OK -- yes, I am a Maddow fan. I love her snark, but am in awe of her research capabilities, and the ability to connect stories that seem to be unrelated into a whole. That's what I got here...and I read the audible, so she READ IT TO ME.

The GR preview calls the book 'switchbacks', and that's just what it is...she begins one story, seemingly leaves it to pick up another, related, story, and then, BAM! brings both threads together.

Oil and gas dominate my state of Oklahoma, so her chapters about
Dec 26, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
"When government is no match for the power of the industry, it instead becomes an enabler, an apologist, and often a corrupt participant in the industry running roughshod."

That quote pretty much sums it up. Things in the oil and gas industry haven't changed much since John D. Rockefeller made his fortune with Standard Oil. The links back to this dynasty are scary. Rex Tillerson's tenure at ExxonMobil is frightening even more so that he was appointed Secretary of State for a minute under Trump.
Oct 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A thoroughly researched book by one of the smartest and best journalist we have. Maddow’s signature ability to pull seemingly disparate facts together to form a cohesive and compelling whole is fully on display.

If you ever watch her, you know that she builds thread-by-thread until the final intersecting payoff. So it is here. The history of oil and fracking, the rise of Putin and his energy state, the invasion of Ukraine, the Exxon-Mobil investments, Tillerson . . . the 'corrupted democracy and
Donna Hines
Jul 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: arc, netgalley
As with anything these days this novel is all about corporate and individual greed. The greed that warrants full power and full wealth under the disguise of saving others or helping the environment move towards the future goals.
From Oklahoma to NW Pennsylvania and beyond Rachel tackles the truth in a powerful and dynamic fashion that will leave no stone literally and figuratively not turned.
"Play on emotions; the bigger the lie, the better; lies should be reported many times."
These lies are what
May 20, 2019 marked it as to-read
Shelves: tbr-audiobook
checked mid-announcement and this wasn’t here. checked two seconds into O’Donnell and here we are. good job friends
Jan 13, 2020 rated it liked it
Blowout by Rachel Maddow

Oil and its corruption have had a massive impact on our world to be sure. Maddow attempts to tell us this using many current examples and is mostly successful in her effort.

First the positive.

1. Maddow, a Rhodes Scholar, has a nose for what is important. I feel that all of the oil related threads covered in this book are of importance and, individually, are interesting.

2. Although she uses a few too many idioms at times, her sentence structure and thought processes are
Nov 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Oil and gas are valuable everywhere in the world, but with only a few exceptions the industry that produces them has shaped nations and states in ways that serve itself while screwing pretty much everybody else. As if its life depended on it, the industry has argued that it needs government off its back, it needs freedom and space to operate as it sees fit, and only the industry itself has the technological know-how to set the boundaries and expectations for how it behaves. And yes, energy
Oct 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: arc
I watch Rachel's show anytime I can. She has this way about her that when she explains something, she gives all of the information, and she delivers it a way that is easy to understand. I picked this book to read, not only because it is by her, but because I want to learn more about Russia, the 2016 election, and everything in between.

A good chunk of this book is about the gas and oil industry, and how it rules over our politics. I knew some about this, but now I'm blown away by how much I did
Dec 01, 2019 is currently reading it
Here is the subtitle which says a lot about what the book is about: Corrupted Democracy, Rogue State Russia, and the Richest, Most Destructive Industry on Earth.

The dedication reads "To the bots and trolls, all of you, with love."

The introduction begins with a tease. Some "head of state" is visiting New York in 2003, laying flowers at the the site of the Twin Towers. We find out after three pages that it is Vladimir Putin, one of the greatest bullshitters of my lifetime. And he had the whole
Aug 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is a non-fiction account of insatiable greed on the part of a particular segment of self-serving, uncaring people drunk on money and power, who work directly in, or benefit indirectly from, the oil and gas industry. It demonstrates how this industry fuels politics around the world, and has played a surprising role in attempts by Vladimir Putin to sow discord in the West and control Washington.

Rachel Maddow, known from her news show on MSNBC, is more than a media pundit: she received her
Marco G
Dec 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book. It is one of the most important books I read this year. I cannot really discuss the premises about the book without getting overly political so I will avoid them. I will say that transparency on the part of Big Energy, freedom of the press, republican school teachers in oklahoma, brave souls that exposed Russia for what is is - a Kleptocracy that is ripping off its own people to enrich its oligarchs - and pussy riot of all things - are part of this incredible piece of work. It ...more
Oct 27, 2019 rated it liked it
[27 October 2019]
This is an interesting presentation of the recent history of the oil and gas industry in the U.S. and around the world. Maddow does history by telling a series of related stories, making the history very vivid. But Maddow is not really a historian, she's a news analyst and commentator and she's not afraid to insert her opinion into her commentary. So this is also a polemic, a scathing indictment of the industry and the harm it has caused. It's not particularly about climate
Oct 23, 2019 rated it liked it
I love Maddow. I devoured her first book, but this one was not as cohesive. However, I know that what I love most about Maddow is listening to her delivery which is why I was able to breeze through the book once the audiobook was out. Listening to The author talk about Russia, Exxon, and homegrown millionaires in Oklahoma allowed me to focus on the stories she was telling in each chapter instead of expecting a specific thread (other than petroleum) that tied all the stories together.
Dec 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Understanding the power of the oil and gas industry

I'm not a newbie to all this. I worked 10+ years in the industry, perhaps I should say on the periphery thereof. Worked for a technology company that developed computer systems for the analysis of seismic data, company that eventually developed into an industry specific software company. I worked in marketing (for which I had to learn a great deal about the job to be done and how the software made it easier and more accurate to pinpoint drilling
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IBIS Read and Review: Blowout by Rachel Maddow 1 5 Nov 29, 2019 12:02PM  

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Rachel Maddow is host of the Emmy Award–winning Rachel Maddow Show on MSNBC, as well as the author of Drift: The Unmooring of American Military Power, a #1 New York Times bestseller. Maddow received a bachelor’s degree in public policy from Stanford University and earned her doctorate in political science at Oxford University. She lives in New York City and Massachusetts with her partner, artist ...more
“We can see how many of the Euro-Atlantic countries are actually rejecting their roots, including the Christian values that constitute the basis of Western civilization. They are denying moral principles and all traditional identities: national, cultural, religious and even sexual. They are implementing policies” 2 likes
“Standard DNA is shot through the oil industry, as are Standard’s dominant traits: a penchant for pinching pennies, an eagerness to devour and expand, a mistrust and even hatred of government regulation, a vaguely delusional sense of higher calling, and a wary respect for innovation. Worth keeping these traits in mind, because they’ve gone on to shape the modern world. They still function as a character sketch—or maybe a psychological profile—of the richest, most powerful, and most destructive industry on the globe.” 1 likes
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