Book Reveiws

Transport Revolutions: Moving People And Freight Without Oil (Second Updated Edition)
Richard Gilbert and Anthony Perl, New Society Publishers, 2010, 448 pages

International transportation heavyweights Richard Gilbert and Anthony Perl are not trying to get you to panic about global oil supply. But they have taken the time to put together incredibly well-researched suggestions to vastly reduce our dependence on fossil fuels by 2025 and soberly examine the reasons we need to do it; employing published research, charts, tables and studies rather than high pitched rhetoric, jargon or preachy rationalizations. Noting 95 percent of the fuel used to move people and freight is liquid petroleum, but reminding us “Today’s extensive oil use is a recent phenomenon…more than 50% of the oil ever used has been consumed since 1986.” Their stated aim: “This book begins the exploration of a future in which mostly renewably produced electricity will increasingly replace oil as a transport fuel.”

Transport Revolutions provides a historical and global perspective on why revolutionary change is both possible and challenging. Pointing out “When new forms of technology or new organizational arrangements prove successful and attract huge investment in major infrastructure, their existence creates resistance to further change. The infrastructure ‘locks in’ a particular combination of technology and organization.” The reader is briefed thoroughly on the present situation including an updated “Reality Check” on what happened in 2008 with oil prices deftly illustrating the volatility of oil as an energy source.

So what is the next transport revolution going to look like? If, like me, you were hoping the recommendations for the U.S. included a big role for active transportation as a high priority, you will be disappointed. But I enjoyed the ride. The authors don’t claim to have all the answers. They focus on beefing up our electricity grid and investing in renewable electricity, electric intercity passenger rail, and electric trolley buses. Transport Revolutions is an excellent read for those who want the facts and want to be part of finding the answers, rather than being given all the answers.

Kitty Klitze

The Stone Masters: California Rock Climbers In The Seventies
Text by John Long, Photographs by Dean Fidelman, Stonemaster Press, 2009, 196 pages

The Stone Masters so impressed the 2010 Banff Mountain Book Festival jury that they awarded the book two prizes. Most importantly, the book was tapped as the Grand Prize winner for 2010. In addition, they viewed the book’s coverage of a significant era of climbing history worthy of the not always presented award for Best Book in Mountain History.

Stone master and award-winning author John Long wrote most of the essays found in The Stone Masters. Though many were written especially for this book, some draw on his earlier writings. In addition, Long searched the archives for pieces by fellow climbers from the era. As a whole, the essays create a portrait of the Spartan lifestyle these climbers created. Living in tents at the base of their climbs and wearing the unofficial uniform of cutoffs and bandanas, this small band of highly-skilled climbers pioneered the free solo technique, literally changing the nature of rock climbing in the 70s.

The large format chosen for this book allows the use of both vertical and horizontal format images without necessarily “crossing the fold”; however, with great dramatic effect, some images do. That allowed Fidelman, who collected the images, great freedom in his selections. Nearly every page boasts at least one image of the era’s climbing icons. Those used to modern high-resolution digital imagery might be disappointed by many of the photos. As the climbers themselves, using whatever camera they could grab, shot many of the images, some come out grainy in the enlargements included in the book. But the message they convey is far more interesting and important than the quality of the image.

You will want to put The Stone Masters on your Christmas wish list because at $60 suggested retail, it’s a bit pricy. Even at its best price on Amazon, it will set you back $40. But if you want to live, or relive the halcyon days of “The Stone Masters,” this book is a must-read.

Stan Miller

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