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June 11 , 2009

Edison to Enron

Energy Markets and Political Strategies


The oil industry in the United States has been the subject of innumerable histories. But books on the development of the natural gas industry and the electricity industry in the U.S. are scarce. Edison to Enron is a readable flowing history of two of America's largest and most colorful industries.

It begins with the story of Samuel Insull, a poor boy from England, who started his career as Thomas Edison's right-hand man, then went on his own and became one of America's top industrialists. But when Insull's General Electric's energy empire collapsed during the Great Depression, the hitherto Great Man was denounced and prosecuted and died a pauper. Against that backdrop, the book introduces Ken Lay, a poor boy from Missouri who began his career as an aide to the head of Humble oil, now part of Exxon Mobil. Lay went on to become a Washington bureaucrat and energy regulator and then became the wunderkind of the natural gas industry in the 1980s with Enron.

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To connect the lives of these two energy giants, Edison to Enron takes the reader through the flamboyant history of the American energy industry, from Texas wildcatters to the great pipeline builders to the Washington wheeler-dealers.

From the Reviews...

"This scholarly work fills in much missing history about two of America's most important industries, electricity and natural gas."
Joseph A. Pratt, NEH-Cullen Professor of History and Business, University of Houston

"... a remarkable book on the political inner workings of the U.S. energy industry."
Robert Peltier, PE, Editor-in-Chief, POWER Magazine

"This is a powerful story, brilliantly told."
Forrest McDonald, Historian

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