Sources of Power: How Energy Forges Human History

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The innovative theory articulated in Sources of Power: How Energy Forges Human History parses history into four ages: the foraging, agriculture, coal, and oil ages, each defined by the dominant source of power. Manfred Weissenbacher tests this sweeping theory against the panorama of world history, combining formidable powers of synthesis with a specialist's deep understanding of energy systems and technologies.

After proving the operation of his law through history and into the present, Weissenbacher applies it to global geopolitical trends. He assesses the prospects of the various candidate technologies to succeed oil and charts future scenarios based on the distribution of energy reserves. Finally, he forecasts the fates of the American and Chinese empires in the twilight of the oil age: the United States as a mature superpower forced to deploy military might to occupy oilfields in the Middle East; China as an emerging superpower forced to deploy economic might to muscle in on the development of Third World oilfields.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"This is a long single-authored work admirable for its clarity, depth, and informed synthesis—as well as its importance to scholars, policymakers, and students in the many intertwining fields concerned with energy and politics."


SciTech Book News

"An excellent book for interdisciplinary discussion courses. Highly recommended. General readers and lower- and upper-division undergraduates."



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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780313356261
  • Publisher: ABC-CLIO, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 9/30/2009
  • Pages: 1242
  • Product dimensions: 6.50 (w) x 9.60 (h) x 3.00 (d)

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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 28, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Sources of Power gives an exciting and fascinating overview of human history from the perspective of energy production and consumption.

    Manfred Weissenbacher identifies four 'ages' distinguished by humanity's ability to extract and utilise energy resources from the environment. The basic thesis is that the structure and capacity of civilisations are determined by the dominant energy source in each period of time
    The Foraging Age covers neo-lithic period of 'gatherer-hunters' (rather than the more usual hunter-gatherer term, based on the predominantly vegetarian diet of such peoples). During the Agricultural Age biomass energy, in the form of crops for people and animals, was the dominant energy source, hence power was very much tied to the area of land available to a society. This lead to empire-building in order to control land and to enslave more 'prime movers'.
    For the first time in human history, during the Coal Age, energy production was no longer tied to land area. Empires were built around available mineral resources and access to markets for manufactured products.
    The Oil Age draws in a period of great abundance of cheap transportation and consequent globalisation of economies and society.
    Manfred Weissenbacher's style of writing makes this book incredibly readable - I finished the two-volume, 800+ work in a little over two weeks! The Oil Age, particularly gives an insightful account of some of the most important political events of the twentieth century.
    But what will the future of energy hold?

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 30, 2010

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    Posted October 5, 2010

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