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Amity and Prosperity: One Family and the Fracturing of America - Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Non-Fiction 2019

Eliza Griswold

7 Reviews

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Fossil fuel technologies

Winner of the 2019 Pulitzer Prize, Amity and Prosperity is a powerful and beautifully-written story of the energy boom's impact on a small town in the United States - and of one woman's transformation from a struggling single parent to an unlikely activist

Winner of the 2019 Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction Seven years in the making, AMITY AND PROSPERITY tells the story of the energy boom's impact on a small town at the edge of Appalachia and of one woman's transformation from a struggling single parent to an unlikely activist.

Stacey Haney is a local nurse working hard to raise two kids and keep up her small farm when the fracking boom comes to her hometown of Amity, Pennsylvania. Intrigued by reports of lucrative natural gas leases in her neighbours' mailboxes, she strikes a deal with a Texas-based energy company. Soon trucks begin rumbling past her small farm, a fenced-off drill site rises on an adjacent hilltop, and domestic animals and pets start to die. When mysterious sicknesses begin to afflict her children, she appeals to the company for help. Its representatives insist that nothing is wrong.

Alarmed by her children's illnesses, Haney joins with neighbours and a committed husband-and-wife legal team to investigate what's really in the water and air. Against local opposition, Haney and her allies doggedly pursue their case in court and begin to expose the damage that's being done to the land her family has lived on for centuries.

Drawing on seven years of immersive reporting, prizewinning poet and journalist Eliza Griswold reveals what happens when an imperilled town faces a crisis of values, and a family wagers everything on an improbable quest for justice.

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Praise for Amity and Prosperity: One Family and the Fracturing of America - Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Non-Fiction 2019

  • Amity and Prosperity is at heart a David and Goliath story fit for the movies. It has everything but a happy ending: bucolic setting concealing fortune and danger; poor but proud locals who've endured sequential boom bust cycles of resource extraction . . . tough, reluctant victim-heroes . . . and a courtroom drama, as a tenacious husband-wife legal team takes on the industry and the state . . . [a] valuable, discomforting book - The New York Times Book Review

  • Neither an outraged sermon delivered from a populist soapbox nor a pinched, professorial lecture. Griswold, a journalist and a poet, paid close attention to a community in southwestern Pennsylvania over the course of seven years to convey its confounding experience with hydraulic fracturing . . . What Griswold depicts is a community, like the earth, cracked open . . . Parts of Amity and Prosperity read as intimately as a novel, though its insidious, slow-motion ordeal is all too real - The New York Times

  • A morally complex and beautifully-written story of Appalachia, of family, of resources we all use. It's about what binds and tears apart a community and a country. - author of The Unwinding, Winner of the National Book Award

  • Riveting and outraging. An essential account of corporate wrongdoing, regulatory collusion and citizen resistance in an unequal age - author of Behind the Beautiful Forevers, Winner of the National Book Award

  • Expertly constructed . . . [Griswold's] relentless, measured narration helped me understand my own blind spots - that sadness over ruined views is a kind of class privilege, the outgrowth of a particular stance toward the land . . . Thoroughly reported and tightly paced, Amity and Prosperity is an essential document of the region's latest go-round with the riches underfoot - Los Angeles Review of Books

  • Amity and Prosperity is part Erin Brockovich, part Hillbilly Elegy. You'll be inspired by [Stacey Haney, Beth Voyles and Kendra Smith] who called B.S. on what was happening around them, pointing a finger at both money-hungry businessmen and day-tripping liberals studying them like specimens. Their galvanizing activism is proof that, to help someone, first you have to listen - Glamour

  • Griswold creates a complex, elegantly written portrait of Stacey and a community ambivalent about the industry they hope can bring prosperity - BBC

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