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The Party's Over: Oil, War, and the Fate of Industrial Societies Paperback – Feb 23 2003

3.5 out of 5 stars 24 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: New Society Publishers; 1 edition (Feb. 23 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0865714827
  • ISBN-13: 978-0865714823
  • Product Dimensions: 1.9 x 14 x 20.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 408 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars 24 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #2,806,673 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description


February 1, 2003

The Party's Over (TPO) is an excellently and thoroughly researched treatment of precisely the oil depletion problem, almost entirely free of the usual hidden political agendas, irrelevant personal memoirs, and philosophical delusions.

I would recommend TPO to anybody on this list . . . as a convenient and politically neutral "Pack-'O-Facts" that can be offered to friends, family, colleagues, policy makers, and anybody else in your life or world that you may feel needs a sober sit-down and some rational talking-to about the energy future of industrial civilization.

The Endnotes section at the book's end, organized by chapter, is the best bibliography I've ever seen on all aspects of the topic. This book bears direct comparison to only three other more-or-less mass or general market books that I'm aware of:

  1. Thom Hartmann, Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight;
  2. Jeremy Rifkin, The Hydrogen Economy;
  3. Kenneth Deffeyes, Hubbert's Peak: The Impending World Oil Shortage.

With respect to these, I feel that TPO is:

  • less irrelevantly philosophical than Hartmann's book, more up- to-date, and more pointedly technical in sources used.
  • very similar to the first half of Rifkin's work, where he delineates the problem, but again a more comprehensive and at the same time more focused presentation. The second half of Rifkin's work, where he cheerleads in rather political mode for a salvaging of the world's economy via distributed hydrogen/fuel-cell infrastructure is not directly relevant, except I suppose inasmuch as it would seem to contradict Heinberg's skepticism about propping up global industrial civilization through a 11th hour switch to alternatives. I'd personally go with Heinberg's conclusions.
  • again, in topic/coverage very similar to Deffeye's quite interesting work, but frankly for those who want a quick and focused rollup presentation/package for opening the topic with others, Deffeye's work is overly encumbered with too much aranca about oil geology and personal author's memoirs.

Overall, The Party's Over will serve as the state-of-the-art topic-opener on Hubbert catastrophism, for people on this list, well into the foreseeable future.

Scott Meredith
AlasBabylon list owner

The world is about to run out of cheap oil and change dramatically. Within the next few years, global production will peak. Thereafter, even if industrial societies begin to switch to alternative energy sources, they will have less net energy each year to do all the work essential to the survival of complex societies. We are entering a new era, as different from the industrial era as the latter was from medieval times.

In The Party's Over, Richard Heinberg places this momentous transition in historical context, showing how industrialism arose from the harnessing of fossil fuels, how competition to control access to oil shaped the geopolitics of the 20th century, and how contention for dwindling energy resources in the 21st century will lead to resource wars in the Middle East, Central Asia, and South America. He describes the likely impacts of oil depletion, and all of the energy alternatives. Predicting chaos unless the U.S. -- the world's foremost oil consumer -- is willing to join with other countries to implement a global program of resource conservation and sharing, he also recommends a "managed collapse" that might make way for a slower-paced, low-energy, sustainable society in the future.

More readable than other accounts of this issue, with fuller discussion of the context, social implications, and recommendations for personal, community, national, and global action, Heinberg's book is a riveting wake-up call for humankind as the oil era winds down, and a critical tool for understanding and influencing current U.S. foreign policy.

Please note:
In producing the second edition of The Party's Over, the printers made an unfortunate mistake, duplicating page 110 on page 100 -- which was omitted entirely. We apologize for this error. Customers who have bought a copy with this error can find the correct page 100 here.

About the Author

Richard Heinberg is the author of nine books and is widely regarded as one of the world's most effective communicators of the urgent need to transition away from fossil fuels. With a wry, unflinching approach based on facts and realism, he exposes the tenuousness of our current way of life and offers a vision for a truly sustainable future.

Senior Fellow-in-Residence at Post Carbon Institute in California, Heinberg is best known as a leading educator on Peak Oil and its impacts. His expertise, publications and teachings also cover other critical issues including the current economic crisis, food and agriculture, community resilience, and global climate change.

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