I’ve been listening, off and on, since driving to NY in early October, to Rachel Maddow’s book Blowout. The full and much more informative title is Blowout: Corrupted Democracy, Rogue State Russia, and the Richest, Most Destructive Industry on Earth.
It’s a disturbing and highly engaging experience. Maddow weaves together seemingly disparate threads in a narrative that you just know is going to get tied together at the end. Like her opening monologues, the elements can be a bit confounding at first. There’s Rex Tillerson, Vladimir Putin, the Sochi Olympics, fracking, oligarchs in Ukraine, and yes, even the pudgy orange miasma.
And it’s remarkable to me how theories about the hidden hand of corporate control — theories that seemed slightly paranoid and fantastical in college — actually were pretty realistic. I always suspected as much.
In 2010, the words “earthquake swarm” entered the lexicon in Oklahoma. That same year, a trove of Michael Jackson memorabilia – including his iconic crystal-encrusted white glove – was sold at auction for over $1 million to a guy who was, officially, just the lowly forestry minister of the tiny nation of Equatorial Guinea. And in 2014, Ukrainian revolutionaries raided the palace of their ousted president and found a zoo of peacocks, gilded toilets, and a floating restaurant modeled after a Spanish galleon. Unlikely as it might seem, there is a thread connecting these events, and Rachel Maddow follows it to its crooked source: the unimaginably lucrative and equally corrupting oil and gas industry.From a review of the book…
Don’t those gilded toilets sound familiar?
They might not be the Illuminati, but there certainly seems to be a web of hungry corporations and crime-boss oligarchs vying with governments for power. And, it appears they’re quite good at exploiting fears of the ‘other’ to enlist the loyalty of folks whose necks are actually under these dudes’ tassel-loafered feet.
As an antidote to the all-too-true horrors of Blowout, I have also been reading Wendell Berry’s Jayber Crow and am excited that there are so many books to explore that are centered in Port William. In this world of angst and acrimony, there’s something so grounding and calming about the simple ways of everyday life. This isn’t to deny the realities of the world, but we each have to find sustenance somewhere.