The Grid: A Journey Through the Heart of Our Electrified World
The electrical grid goes everywhere -- it's the largest and most complex machine ever made. Yet the system is built in such a way that the bigger it gets, the more inevitable its collapse. Named the greatest engineering achievement of the 20th century by the National Academy of Engineering, the electrical grid is the largest industrial investment in the history of humankind. It reaches into your home, snakes its way to your bedroom, and climbs right up into the lamp next to your pillow. At times, it almost seems alive, like some enormous circulatory system that pumps life to big cities and the most remote rural areas. Constructed of intricately interdependent components, the grid operates on a rapidly shrinking margin for error. Things can -- and do -- go wrong in this system, no matter how many preventive steps we take. Just look at the colossal 2003 blackout, when 50 million Americans lost power due to a simple error at a power plant in Ohio; or the one a month later, which blacked out 57 million Italians. And these two combined don't even compare to the 2001 outage in India, which affected 226 million people. The Grid is the first history of the electrical grid intended for general readers, and it comes at a time when we badly need such a guide. As we get more and more dependent on electricity to perform even the most mundane daily tasks, the grid's inevitable shortcomings will take a toll on populations around the globe. At a moment when energy issues loom large on the nation's agenda and our hunger for electricity grows, The Grid is as timely as it is compelling.
A bit too introspective and philosophical for my tastes...
By Thomas Duff "Duffbert" - July 1, 2007
Browsing through a bookstore the other day, I ran across this title... The Grid: A Journey Through the Heart of Our Electrified World by Phillip F. Schewe. I got a copy of it at the library, and was expecting a decent education on how our power systems work. What I ended up with was something a bit different, and it wasn't as good as I had hoped for...
Contents: The Gridness of the Grid; Grid Genesis; Most Electrified City; Imperial Grid; Worst Day in Grid History; Thirty Million Powerless; Overhauling the Grid; Energizing the Grid; Grid on the Moon; Notes; Acknowledgments; Index
With a title like this, I expected the writer to start at the beginning, in the days of Westinghouse and Edison. From there, I had hoped for a relatively comprehensive history of how our nation has become electrified, along with some details as to how it all works. And to some degree, that's in there. But it's ladled out with a heavy dose of philosophy and comparisons to people... read more
Either 5 stars or no stars depending on what you like
By Israel Ramirez - July 29, 2007
If you want to find out technical information about how the grid works or a thoughtful history don't bother with this book. But if you are looking for a science/history book to read at the beach, this is the one. Lots of geewiz stuff but no real detail. Nothing wrong with that. There is a place for a book that makes you feel awe and wonder and this book certainly does that but it left me feeling like I had skipped dinner's main course and went straight to desert.
Excellent historical tour of electric power grid
By Olin Sibert - April 27, 2007
This book provides an entertaining and comprehensive view of how electric power was and is created and delivered ("the grid"), and the style is anything but dry. From the grid's beginnings at the hands of Thomas Edison in the Pearl Street generating station in the 1880s to the issues of production and energy efficiency that are the concerns of today, this book touches on it all. The strongest parts are the story of the beginning--Edison, Westinghouse, Tesla, and Insull--the story of the TVA, and the description of the 1965 blackout. I was disappointed, though, that there wasn't more coverage of recent failures, especially the 2003 blackout which is tantilizingly described as being very similar to 1965, but with little detail.
As the introduction says, this is not a comprehensive technological history--for that, one would have to look elsewhere. I wish the author had given more hints about just where to look--the text is well-footnoted, but it's not clear from the... read more
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