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The Boom is the 2015-2016 Penn State Reads Book

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The Boom, How Fracking Ignited the American Energy Revolution and Changed the World, by Russell Gold, Senior Energy Reporter for The Wall Street Journal

In a world of growing energy consumption and diminishing resources, hydraulic fracturing ("fracking") has become an increasingly prominent method for extracting energy from the planet we live on. In The Boom, Russell Gold tells the story of the rise of fracking and discusses its implications for society, communities, and how we will find, and pay for, resources to satisfy the world's energy needs. The Boom will challenge your perspective on energy and help you consider the critical questions of powering our future.

Read more about The Boom on the author's website.


Listen to Russell Gold's WPSU Radio interview

Russell Gold, in an interview with WPSU's Emily Reddy, spoke about the evolving technology of fracking, which has included the use of everything from napalm to nuclear bombs; the controversy about assigning "The Boom" to Penn State freshmen; and Gold's parents' story about leasing their land in Sullivan County, Pennsylvania. Listen to the interview at

The Boom author Russell Gold visits Penn State

Watch Russell Gold's lecture given on Monday, October 12, 2015, at the HUB-Robeson Center.

Mr. Gold had lunch with Schreyer Honors College and Presidential Leadership Academy students on Tuesday, October 13, as part of his visit to University Park. Read more about his visit on Penn State News.

The Boom author Rusell Gold attends lunch with Schreyer Honors College and Presidential Leadership Academy students










Reflections from Russell Gold Luncheon
The Tavern, October 14, 2015

"I think that the most important thought I walked out with was how much we take energy for granted. It's almost hypocritical to be demanding for cleaner/sustainable and affordable sources of energy when we are not willing to change how we use it. If we want to continue to satisfy our high energy demands without damaging the environment we have to re-think the issue; compromises must be made to fuel innovation too."

"Also, I thought that talking about how literature has shaped our generation was very interesting. I had never thought about how previous generations lacked a common book, for instance, as we have Harry Potter."

"The conversation was both interesting and thought-provoking. Mr. Gold did a very good job of keeping his personal opinions on fracking at bay. The opportunity to have a personal discourse with someone who has complete understanding of the subject matter is invaluable to helping educate oneself. Mr. Gold has covered fracking before it polarized America. His unique experiences and depth of understanding permeated his relaxed demeanor. Mr. Gold was hopeful that the world is ready to make substantial strides in energy use. He believes that the sense of urgency surrounding global warming will continue to drive the debate over the efficient use of resources and the world. However, he believes that it will be hard to convince developing countries to limit their carbon emissions in lieu of economic development. If burning coal is the fastest, cheapest way to power a developing economy, it will be hard to stop these developing countries from doing so. Mr. Gold was also adamant that a carbon tax should be used to disincentive carbon emissions."

"For me, energy must have three attributes: clean, accessible and affordable."


"Given the exaggerations, distortions and outright lies that pollute so much of the debate over the shale revolution, Mr. Gold performs a valuable service by looking at it from a historical, economic, political, and environmental perspective. For those interested, his clear, thorough treatment of the subject is the starting point for a more informed discussion of energy and environmental policy."
—Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

"In The Boom, Russell Gold brings new clarity to a subject awash in hype from all sides. The Boomis a thoughtful, well-written and carefully researched book that provides the best overview yet of the pros and cons of fracking. Gold quietly leads both supporters and critics of drilling to consider other views, and that's a good thing.”
—The Associated Press

"Gold delivers an engaging and expansive education on the promise and risks involved with the sudden rise of fracking for oil and natural gas... Worthy of the attention of both fracking's boosters and opponents."
—Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)

Arguably the most readable and best-researched volume looking at hydraulic fracturing, or 'fracking' and its impact."
—Fort Worth Star-Telegram

"Authoritative and fairly balanced...a welcome guide—the best all-around book yet on fracking.”
—San Francisco Chronicle

"Russell Gold’s The Boom is a double quest. He tells the story of the biggest innovation in energy so far in this century—the shale gas revolution. He captures the personalities, and the drama and surprises, and brings clarity to the debate about the environmental impact—and what it means for the U.S. economy and “energy independence.” But it’s also a more personal story – about “The Farm” in rural Pennsylvania where he spent time as a child, and his quest to understand what is happening in this new age of shale gas."
—Daniel Yergin, author of The Quest: Energy, Security, and the Remaking of the Modern World and of The Prize

"Gold delves into the growing conflict between economic development and concerns over environmental damage, and explains why fracking is seen by some as a vital bridge to a sustainable energy future and feared by others as another excuse to postpone addressing the risks of climate change…. The Boom puts a human face on the unfinished story of our struggle to transition to a sustainable world."
—Steven Chu, Former United States Secretary of Energy

"Gold’s book is an early must-read for 2014: it is both a thorough and fascinating examination of the fracking economy and the technological innovations that have made these new riches accessible (including the often catastrophic damage done in the process of obtaining them)."
—Geoff Manaugh,

"An insider’s guide to the most controversial energy-production technique in the United States."
—Kirkus Reviews

Introduction to The Boom from Professor Terry Engelder

Help Choose the 2016/2017 Penn State Reads Book!

Penn State Reads is looking for volunteer readers to help screen books from our shortlist for the 2016/2017 common text selection. Readers close to the University Park campus can pick books up in 417 Old Main or on the 5th floor of Paterno Library. Readers across the commonwealth should contact their local campus' library to help them find the books. After reading any (or all!) of the eight books on the short list, be sure to fill out the survey to let us know what you thought!