51 books like The Energy of Slaves

By Andrew Nikiforuk,

Here are 51 books that The Energy of Slaves fans have personally recommended if you like The Energy of Slaves. Shepherd is a community of 11,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Power, Sex, Suicide: Mitochondria and the Meaning of Life

Richard Heinberg Author Of Power: Limits and Prospects for Human Survival

From my list on understanding power.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a systems thinker (Senior Fellow at an environmental think tank, author of 14 books and hundreds of essays) who’s addicted to trying to understand the world. After a few decades, the following is my state of understanding. Power is everywhere and determines everything in our lives. Whether due to the physical power of energy channeled through technology, or the social power of organizations and money, we’re enabled or disabled daily. During the last century, fossil-fueled humanity has overpowered planetary systems, as evidenced by climate change, species extinctions, and resource depletion. Few think critically about power. Unless we start doing so, we may be inviting the ultimate disempowerment—extinction.

Richard's book list on understanding power

Richard Heinberg Why did Richard love this book?

When I was younger, biology was mostly about chemistry. The central role of energy in metabolism and life was mostly taken for granted. That’s changed, and this book on recent advances in the field of bioenergetics was an eye-opener for me. Life is all about power, and, gram for gram, the average cell is far more powerful than the sun! This book informed the first chapter in my own book Power.

By Nick Lane,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Power, Sex, Suicide as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Mitochondria are tiny structures located inside our cells that carry out the essential task of producing energy for the cell. They are found in all complex living things, and in that sense, they are fundamental for driving complex life on the planet. But there is much more to them than that.

Mitochondria have their own DNA, with their own small collection of genes, separate from those in the cell nucleus. It is thought that they were once bacteria living independent lives. Their enslavement within the larger cell was a turning point in the evolution of life, enabling the development of…


Book cover of Ultrasociety: How 10,000 Years of War Made Humans the Greatest Cooperators on Earth

Richard Heinberg Author Of Power: Limits and Prospects for Human Survival

From my list on understanding power.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a systems thinker (Senior Fellow at an environmental think tank, author of 14 books and hundreds of essays) who’s addicted to trying to understand the world. After a few decades, the following is my state of understanding. Power is everywhere and determines everything in our lives. Whether due to the physical power of energy channeled through technology, or the social power of organizations and money, we’re enabled or disabled daily. During the last century, fossil-fueled humanity has overpowered planetary systems, as evidenced by climate change, species extinctions, and resource depletion. Few think critically about power. Unless we start doing so, we may be inviting the ultimate disempowerment—extinction.

Richard's book list on understanding power

Richard Heinberg Why did Richard love this book?

Turchin’s book is one of the best sources I found for understanding the development of human social power during the past 11,000 years. As he succinctly puts it, “competition within groups destroys cooperation; cooperation between groups creates cooperation.” Societies grew bigger to compete more successfully for resources, but doing so required that they become more internally cooperative. Necessity was the mother of social innovation, and the result was kingdoms, then empires. Turchin is one of the foremost proponents of group (or multi-level) selection, still a controversial idea in biology, but, in my view, an essential frame for understanding human evolution.

By Peter Turchin,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Ultrasociety as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Cooperation is powerful. There aren’t many highly cooperative species—but they nearly cover the planet. Ants alone account for a quarter of all animal matter. Yet the human capacity to work together leaves every other species standing. We organize ourselves into communities of hundreds of millions of individuals, inhabit every continent, and send people into space. Human beings are nature’s greatest team players. And the truly astounding thing is, we only started our steep climb to the top of the rankings—overtaking wasps, bees, termites and ants—in the last 10,000 years. Genetic evolution can’t explain this anomaly. Something else is going on.…


Book cover of Energy and Civilization: A History

Richard Heinberg Author Of Power: Limits and Prospects for Human Survival

From my list on understanding power.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a systems thinker (Senior Fellow at an environmental think tank, author of 14 books and hundreds of essays) who’s addicted to trying to understand the world. After a few decades, the following is my state of understanding. Power is everywhere and determines everything in our lives. Whether due to the physical power of energy channeled through technology, or the social power of organizations and money, we’re enabled or disabled daily. During the last century, fossil-fueled humanity has overpowered planetary systems, as evidenced by climate change, species extinctions, and resource depletion. Few think critically about power. Unless we start doing so, we may be inviting the ultimate disempowerment—extinction.

Richard's book list on understanding power

Richard Heinberg Why did Richard love this book?

Over the last two centuries, human per capita energy usage has grown 800 percent, while the population has also grown to the same degree. Life has changed profoundly due to our adoption of fossil fuels—but puzzlingly few people are curious to understand energy’s role in society and history. Smil fills the void to overflowing with this detailed account of how people have harvested energy from their environments, and how doing so has changed the ways they live.

By Vaclav Smil,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Energy and Civilization as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A comprehensive account of how energy has shaped society throughout history, from pre-agricultural foraging societies through today's fossil fuel–driven civilization.

"I wait for new Smil books the way some people wait for the next 'Star Wars' movie. In his latest book, Energy and Civilization: A History, he goes deep and broad to explain how innovations in humans' ability to turn energy into heat, light, and motion have been a driving force behind our cultural and economic progress over the past 10,000 years.
—Bill Gates, Gates Notes, Best Books of the Year


Energy is the only universal currency; it is necessary…


Book cover of The Social Psychology of Power

Richard Heinberg Author Of Power: Limits and Prospects for Human Survival

From my list on understanding power.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a systems thinker (Senior Fellow at an environmental think tank, author of 14 books and hundreds of essays) who’s addicted to trying to understand the world. After a few decades, the following is my state of understanding. Power is everywhere and determines everything in our lives. Whether due to the physical power of energy channeled through technology, or the social power of organizations and money, we’re enabled or disabled daily. During the last century, fossil-fueled humanity has overpowered planetary systems, as evidenced by climate change, species extinctions, and resource depletion. Few think critically about power. Unless we start doing so, we may be inviting the ultimate disempowerment—extinction.

Richard's book list on understanding power

Richard Heinberg Why did Richard love this book?

Social power is the ability to change the thoughts and behavior of other people. Power affects many people like a drug: they become addicted to wielding power or serving the powerful. We’re all embedded in webs of hierarchy and rank that often make us literally crazy. This rather obscure book does a good job of summarizing an enormous trove of research by clinical psychologists on the pathologies of power.

By Ann Guinote (editor), Theresa K. Vescio (editor),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Social Psychology of Power as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Addressing an issue of central concern in social life, this authoritative book examines how having or lacking power influences the way individuals and groups think, feel, and act. Leading international experts comprehensively review classic and contemporary research with an eye toward bridging gaps across theories and levels of analysis. Compelling topics include the evolutionary bases of power; its effects on physiological processes, cognitive abilities, and health; what sorts of people are given power; when, how, and whom power corrupts; and power dynamics in gender, social class, and ethnic relations. The integrative concluding chapter presents a cogent agenda for future research.


Book cover of Market Madness: A Century of Oil Panics, Crises, and Crashes

Amy Myers Jaffe Author Of Oil, Dollars, Debt, and Crises: The Global Curse of Black Gold

From my list on why oil and global banking crises happen at the same time.

Why am I passionate about this?

I began my career as a business journalist writing about Arab finance and oil at a time when few women were in that industry. Rather improbably, perhaps, I became well-known for correctly predicting trends – geopolitical and geo-economical. In my thirties, I shifted to the academy, becoming a director of energy research at Rice University in Houston and subsequently a sought-after advisor to government, corporations, and financial institutions. I wrote my first paper on oil crises while in high school (winning third prize in a state term paper contest) and have never left the subject. Now more than ever, the public needs to understand the real facts behind oil and financial crises. 

Amy's book list on why oil and global banking crises happen at the same time

Amy Myers Jaffe Why did Amy love this book?

For as long as I can remember, the oil industry has been saying oil is a finite resource and we are only a few years away from running dry.

It may be confusing to fathom how an industry can keep repeating that meme and have it continue to be believable. The key is understanding the cyclical nature of oil exploration and development and how the long lead time it takes to drill for new oil can lag behind a sudden burst of economic prosperity that creates more demand for energy virtually overnight. In essence, every oil shortage will eventually be temporary.

Market Madness is one of the few oil books that gets that right and uses history to prove its point. The book takes you back to the time of Andrew Carnegie and doesn’t get sucked into the idea that “easy to find” oil will eventually run out, empowering the…

By Blake C. Clayton,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Market Madness as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Stock market booms are cause for celebration. But when oil prices soar because supplies are failing to keep up with demand, the response is nearly always apocalyptic. Predictions of the end of oil can create anxiety on Wall Street and in Washington, stoking fears that production has hit a ceiling and prices will rise in perpetuity. Yet these dire visions have always proven wrong.

Market Madness is the story of four waves of American anxiety over the last 100 years about a looming end to oil reserves. Their sweeping pattern-as large price increases lead to widespread shortage fears that eventually…


Book cover of Fossil Capital: The Rise of Steam Power and the Roots of Global Warming

Liz Conor Author Of Skin Deep: Settler Impressions of Aboriginal Women

From my list on climate change and race.

Why am I passionate about this?

I became a climate activist and later a researcher after my sister and her family lost their home in the Black Saturday fires of 2009 in Victoria. Their bravery and survival is a daily reminder for me, that climate change is upon us, and we are fighting for our lives as well as our children and future generations. Because my research has been focused on colonialism and race their story has opened many questions for me around the history of colonialism and whether it was coal-fired. I’m thinking about what it means for settlers to lose their homes on stolen land, and whether this recognition could prompt us to rethink land ownership, custodianship, and coexistence.

Liz's book list on climate change and race

Liz Conor Why did Liz love this book?

To understand our present plight with climate change we have to get our minds around the history of steam power, and why it came to dominate and supersede wind and water, despite its equal horsepower and greater expense.

Malm’s study is brilliant and while it focuses on labour relations moreso than race the reader only has to think of cotton and slavery, and wool and the colonial frontier to build in the global implications for the transition to steam power. 

By Andreas Malm,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Fossil Capital as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A sweeping study of how capitalism first promoted fossil fuels with the rise of steam power - and contributed to the worsening climate crisis

The more we know about the catastrophic implications of climate change, the more fossil fuels we burn. How did we end up in this mess? In this masterful new history, Andreas Malm claims it all began in Britain with the rise of steam power. But why did manufacturers turn from traditional sources of power, notably water mills, to an engine fired by coal? Contrary to established views, steam offered neither cheaper nor more abundant energy -…


Book cover of Ending Fossil Fuels: Why Net Zero is Not Enough

Why am I passionate about this?

I got energized about the environment, climate, and energy as a physics undergrad during the first energy crisis. Since then, I’ve worked in activist groups (Anti-nuclear, the wrong side: Now I fight climate change as penance for the sins of my youth), held policy positions in the governments of the United States and Canada, worked in two international organizations, and taught energy, climate, and environmental policy at Harvard, Michigan, and now UCLA. There’s so much written on climate change that it’s a rare pleasure to find something that cuts through the noise and says something original or important. So I’m delighted to recommend these, which include a couple of overlooked gems.

Edward's book list on deepening your understanding of climate change, what it means, and what to do about it, and give you hope

Edward A. Parson Why did Edward love this book?

I find reading this book like sitting with a wise friend who gently tells you you’re making a big mistake, but you can still fix it, and it can be OK.

Recent climate policy has gone off the rails with the idea of “net zero,” a sleight-of-hand that makes it look much easier: We don’t actually have to stop emitting; we can just offset emissions by removing them from the atmosphere later to pay back the debt. Yeah, right. This is true in theory but deeply problematic in practice: risky, and prone to error and deception. Some emissions can continue to be offset by removals to get to global net zero or net negative. But the current net-zero bandwagon, with everyone pretending their emissions can continue, is dangerous madness.

Buck brings her clear insight and ruthless honesty to this deeply confused area. She gently holds the popular delusions up for…

By Holly Jean Buck,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Ending Fossil Fuels as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Around the world, countries and companies are setting net-zero carbon emissions targets. But "net-zero" is a term that conveniently obscures multiple futures. There could be a version of net-zero where the fossil fuel industry is still spewing tens of billions of tons of CO2 into the atmosphere, and has built a corresponding industry in sucking it back out again. Holly Buck argues that focusing on emissions draws our attention away from where we need to be looking: the point of production.

It is time to plan for the end of fossil fuel and the companies that profit from them. Fossil…


Book cover of The New Map: Energy, Climate, and the Clash of Nations

Scott B. Macdonald Author Of The New Cold War, China, and the Caribbean: Economic Statecraft, China and Strategic Realignments

From my list on beach reads in an international relations hurricane.

Why am I passionate about this?

My expertise in Caribbean and Chinese affairs derives from having an interest in the two regions since college, which was then pursued through a MA in Asian Studies from the University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies and Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of Connecticut. On the employment front, I worked for 3 regional banks (as an international economist), the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, Credit Suisse, Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette, KWR International, and Aladdin Capital Management (as head of Credit and Economics Research) and Mitsubishi Corporation. Since I left Mitsubishi I returned to my two favorite interests, Asia and the Caribbean. 

Scott's book list on beach reads in an international relations hurricane

Scott B. Macdonald Why did Scott love this book?

Yurgin is the grandmaster of global energy politics, starting with his seminal, The Prize, and most recently The New Map. The latter is an amazing sweep of where global energy markets are heading, which takes into consideration the shift away from oil, gas, and coal to green or alternative sources of energy. His outlook is that the transition to a carbon-lite world is going to be much bumpier and more time-consuming than many people wish for, considering the issues of climate change, economic realities, and geopolitics. An insightful and excellent read.

By Daniel Yergin,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The New Map as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A Wall Street Journal besteller and a USA Today Best Book of 2020

Named Energy Writer of the Year for The New Map by the American Energy Society

"A master class on how the world works." -NPR

Pulitzer Prize-winning author and global energy expert, Daniel Yergin offers a revelatory new account of how energy revolutions, climate battles, and geopolitics are mapping our future

The world is being shaken by the collision of energy, climate change, and the clashing power of nations in a time of global crisis. Out of this tumult is emerging a new map of energy and geopolitics.…


Book cover of Resource Radicals: From Petro-Nationalism to Post-Extractivism in Ecuador

Drew Pendergrass Author Of Half-Earth Socialism: A Plan to Save the Future from Extinction, Climate Change and Pandemics

From my list on environmental crisis and how to solve it.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a climate scientist at Harvard and an environmental activist. In my day job, I use satellite, aircraft, and surface observations of the environment to correct supercomputer models of the atmosphere. What I’ve learned has made me feel that I can’t just stay in the lab—I need to get out in the world and fight for a future that’s just and ecologically stable for everyone. My writing and activism imagines how humanity can democratically govern itself in an age of environmental crisis.

Drew's book list on environmental crisis and how to solve it

Drew Pendergrass Why did Drew love this book?

As an environmental activist, I often run into the problem of popular politics. Consumption of certain goods, like oil or meat, drives the environmental crisis, but they also are popular—or, at least, people would feel it as a loss if they were limited. Worse, people’s livelihoods often depend on industries that are hurting the planet.

To understand possible ways forward, I turned to Thea Riofrancos. This book guided me through Ecuador's complicated environmental politics. A left-wing president won power, promising prosperity for all, funded by mining and exporting the country’s rich natural resources. Indigenous people and environmentalists proposed alternative politics, which were not funded by extraction but by an alternative green economy. The book is full of hard lessons about the challenges of building a winning environmental movement.

By Thea Riofrancos,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Resource Radicals as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In 2007, the left came to power in Ecuador. In the years that followed, the "twenty-first-century socialist" government and a coalition of grassroots activists came to blows over the extraction of natural resources. Each side declared the other a perversion of leftism and the principles of socioeconomic equality, popular empowerment, and anti-imperialism. In Resource Radicals, Thea Riofrancos unpacks the conflict between these two leftisms: on the one hand, the administration's resource nationalism and focus on economic development; and on the other, the anti-extractivism of grassroots activists who condemned the government's disregard for nature and indigenous communities. In this archival and…


Book cover of Energy: A Human History

Jeffrey Bennett Author Of A Global Warming Primer: Pathway to a Post-Global Warming Future

From my list on the science, consequences, and solutions to global warming.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am an astronomer and educator (Ph.D. Astrophysics, University of Colorado), and I’ve now been teaching about global warming for more than 40 years (in courses on astronomy, astrobiology, and mathematics). While it’s frustrating to see how little progress we’ve made in combatting the ongoing warming during this time, my background as an astronomer gives me a “cosmic perspective” that reminds me that decades are not really so long, and that we still have time to act and to build a “post-global warming future.” I hope my work can help inspire all of us to act while we still can for the benefit of all.

Jeffrey's book list on the science, consequences, and solutions to global warming

Jeffrey Bennett Why did Jeffrey love this book?

I learned a lot from this book about the development of energy sources over the centuries, and how this history both leads to our current predicament with climate change and offers a path to solutions.

This history also points out that this is not the first time that we’ve needed to transition from one energy economy to another, and our past successes show that we can be successful again. I also enjoyed the descriptions of potential future solutions, including the book’s excellent discussion of nuclear energy.

By Richard Rhodes,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Energy as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A "meticulously researched" (The New York Times Book Review) examination of energy transitions over time and an exploration of the current challenges presented by global warming, a surging world population, and renewable energy-from Pulitzer Prize- and National Book Award-winning author Richard Rhodes.

People have lived and died, businesses have prospered and failed, and nations have risen to world power and declined, all over energy challenges. Through an unforgettable cast of characters, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Richard Rhodes explains how wood gave way to coal and coal made room for oil, as we now turn to natural gas, nuclear power, and renewable…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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