Energy And Civilization: A History by Vaclav SmilEnergy And Civilization: A History by Vaclav Smil

Energy And Civilization: A History

byVaclav Smil

Hardcover | May 12, 2017

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A comprehensive account of how energy has shaped society throughout history, from pre-agricultural foraging societies through today's fossil fuel-driven civilization.

"I wait for new Smil books the way some people wait for the next 'Star Wars' movie. In his latest book, Energy and Civilization: A History, he goes deep and broad to explain how innovations in humans' ability to turn energy into heat, light, and motion have been a driving force behind our cultural and economic progress over the past 10,000 years.
-Bill Gates, Gates Notes, Best Books of the Year


Energy is the only universal currency; it is necessary for getting anything done. The conversion of energy on Earth ranges from terra-forming forces of plate tectonics to cumulative erosive effects of raindrops. Life on Earth depends on the photosynthetic conversion of solar energy into plant biomass. Humans have come to rely on many more energy flows-ranging from fossil fuels to photovoltaic generation of electricity-for their civilized existence. In this monumental history, Vaclav Smil provides a comprehensive account of how energy has shaped society, from pre-agricultural foraging societies through today's fossil fuel-driven civilization.

Humans are the only species that can systematically harness energies outside their bodies, using the power of their intellect and an enormous variety of artifacts-from the simplest tools to internal combustion engines and nuclear reactors. The epochal transition to fossil fuels affected everything: agriculture, industry, transportation, weapons, communication, economics, urbanization, quality of life, politics, and the environment. Smil describes humanity's energy eras in panoramic and interdisciplinary fashion, offering readers a magisterial overview. This book is an extensively updated and expanded version of Smil's Energy in World History (1994). Smil has incorporated an enormous amount of new material, reflecting the dramatic developments in energy studies over the last two decades and his own research over that time.

Title:Energy And Civilization: A HistoryFormat:HardcoverDimensions:568 pages, 9 × 6 × 1.56 inPublished:May 12, 2017Publisher:The MIT PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0262035774

ISBN - 13:9780262035774

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Reviews

Rated 5 out of 5 by from An Absolute Wealth of Information This is a book on the history of civilization focusing on humanity’s use of energy, e.g., by acquiring energy through nutrition, using energy to perform physical labor (human and animal), energy implications in agriculture (energy in/energy out), various contraptions invented throughout the ages to assist or replace human and animal work through increased efficiency, war machines/weapons, transportation, etc., etc. I don’t think that the author has forgotten anything. This being the second book that I’ve read by this author, I knew what to expect. And the author did not disappoint. The information packed in this tome is truly astounding! It reads like a textbook – precise, factual and clear. There is very little chit-chat or biographical or personal anecdotes. It’s all business, but what a wealth of information! Although anyone could learn a great deal through reading this amazing book, I believe that someone with a physics or engineering background would have an advantage through being already quite familiar with the energy terminology and units used throughout.
Date published: 2018-05-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great book! Great book for the engineering nerd who loves energy and numbers! anyone who have troubles with numbers may not get as much from this and this is a pretty heavy book.
Date published: 2018-03-19

Editorial Reviews

A comprehensive account of how energy has shaped society throughout history, from pre-agricultural foraging societies through today's fossil fuel-driven civilization."I wait for new Smil books the way some people wait for the next 'Star Wars' movie. In his latest book, Energy and Civilization: A History, he goes deep and broad to explain how innovations in humans' ability to turn energy into heat, light, and motion have been a driving force behind our cultural and economic progress over the past 10,000 years.-Bill Gates, Gates Notes, Best Books of the YearEnergy is the only universal currency; it is necessary for getting anything done. The conversion of energy on Earth ranges from terra-forming forces of plate tectonics to cumulative erosive effects of raindrops. Life on Earth depends on the photosynthetic conversion of solar energy into plant biomass. Humans have come to rely on many more energy flows-ranging from fossil fuels to photovoltaic generation of electricity-for their civilized existence. In this monumental history, Vaclav Smil provides a comprehensive account of how energy has shaped society, from pre-agricultural foraging societies through today's fossil fuel-driven civilization. Humans are the only species that can systematically harness energies outside their bodies, using the power of their intellect and an enormous variety of artifacts-from the simplest tools to internal combustion engines and nuclear reactors. The epochal transition to fossil fuels affected everything: agriculture, industry, transportation, weapons, communication, economics, urbanization, quality of life, politics, and the environment. Smil describes humanity's energy eras in panoramic and interdisciplinary fashion, offering readers a magisterial overview. This book is an extensively updated and expanded version of Smil's Energy in World History (1994). Smil has incorporated an enormous amount of new material, reflecting the dramatic developments in energy studies over the last two decades and his own research over that time.Smil's masterful overview explains energy's centrality in creating and sustaining civilization. Grounded in science, sensitive to cultural differences, and richly detailed, it is the definitive work on this vital subject.-David E. Nye, author of Electrifying America and When the Lights Went Out