Official Review: Fueling Change: The Once and Future Kans...

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CommMayo
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Official Review: Fueling Change: The Once and Future Kans...

Post by CommMayo » 12 Jul 2019, 15:12

[Following is an official OnlineBookClub.org review of "Fueling Change: The Once and Future Kansas City" by Twyla Dell.]
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3 out of 4 stars
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Fueling Change: The Once and Future Kansas City by Twyla Dell is an expansive tome on the fuel history of not just Kansas City, but the American Midwest as a whole. Dell clearly lays out the distinct energy ages that built America: wood, coal, and oil and the ongoing transition of Kansas City into the solar age. The author describes the four stages of energy transitions and goes on to anecdotally demonstrate those changes throughout the history of the Kansas City area.

Dell weaves an interesting narrative about the interaction of people and their landscape based on the prevailing fuel age. As is the topic of many books surrounding energy use, transportation plays a key role; from horses to keelboats, to steamers, to locomotives, and to automobiles, the author drives home the concept that each incremental energy adaptation also had major implications on the homestead as well as patterns of community development. She uses this focus on gradual change to highlight the path toward a transition into the solar age in order to combat climate change.

Fueling Change is a wonderful compendium of aspects of American history that many people never learned about in school in such vivid detail. As someone immensely interested in navigation and maps, I found myself instantly drawn to her depictions of traveling and commerce via waterways. I was especially amazed by the wealth of woodlots that were mapped along rivers so steamboats could make their journeys. In addition to the wealth of illustrations and historical images, another thing that really kept my interest in the lengthy material was Dell’s focus on the human scale of each energy age.

While the book is chock-full of very interesting and in-depth material, it is probably not something one would keep on their bedside table. At well over 400 pages, Fueling Change is best described as a textbook. Despite the abundant illustrations and tables, the depth of information to wade through demands a deliberate and slow reading to soak in the wealth of knowledge presented to the reader. Since it took so much careful attention to read, I noticed a rather large number of missing words, style inconsistencies, and formatting issues. This was rather disappointing to me as the book generally presents itself as a very professionally produced work.

Fueling Change is an amazing book for a niche market of individuals immensely interested in energy and how it impacted the evolution of the Midwest and the United States. Readers interested in American history would also find a lot of fascinating bits of information in the book. While the information presented is quite interesting and well laid out, the number of grammatical issues takes the rating to 3 out of 4 stars.

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Fueling Change: The Once and Future Kansas City
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Post by Kansas City Teacher » 13 Jul 2019, 15:53

I would love this book because it is my city! I hope it filters down through the levels... Every year we take the students to look at the places where they found a dug up one of those steamships. Thank you for your review.

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Post by rumik » 13 Jul 2019, 16:11

Wow, seems like Kansas City has an interesting history behind it, though I'm not sure I'd be very interested in the history of energy/fuel. Oh well, thanks for the great review!

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Post by kandscreeley » 13 Jul 2019, 17:03

If you're interested in energy or history, perhaps this would be interesting to you. However I'm not. This would bore me to tears. Glad you found something to enjoy. Thanks!
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Post by Tomah » 13 Jul 2019, 21:48

This book sounds like an in-depth exploration of a fairly niche topic, so I can see how it might not appeal to a lot of people. I'm personally interested in topics related to energy sources and their usage, but the focus on a particular region of the U.S. I know very little about could make for an overwhelming or tiresome experience. Still, seeing how these insights could be generalized and applied elsewhere, and given the author's apparently excellent writing with vivid details and interesting stories, I'm willing to give this a try. Thanks for the review!

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Post by Brendan Donaghy » 14 Jul 2019, 13:44

Navigation and maps would generally be parts of a book I'd skim over quickly, so I'll maybe give this one a miss. Gold star to you for taking on such a detailed, challenging read.

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Post by Meg98 » 14 Jul 2019, 21:46

This sounds like an interesting and thorough book about the history of the Midwest. It is a shame about the editing though; it really does detract from a good read in my opinion when there are too many errors. Thank you for this excellent review! :)
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Post by Prisallen » 15 Jul 2019, 07:50

I agree that this would only appeal to a certain group of people. However, it really isn't the kind of book that I normally enjoy reading. However, I enjoyed reading your review!

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Post by kdstrack » 15 Jul 2019, 11:08

This does sound like a textbook, educating readers about the development of fuel usage in our society. The history sections would be interesting (how we went from wood to solar). I enjoyed your candid and informative review.

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Post by Clorinda Donovan » 15 Jul 2019, 11:47

Hat's off to you for such a wonderful review on what would have been a boring read for me. I would never read this book but thank you for such a detailed review. 🙋
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Post by LinaMueller » 16 Jul 2019, 07:34

The book seems to be not only a interesting story about Kansas City, but a provocative view of growth and change through the lens of fuel and energy. I'll give it a try when I get time. Thanks for your great review, CommMayo.
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I may remember him!

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Post by Areej Tahir » 16 Jul 2019, 11:10

I don't think i would go for this book honestly

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Post by ReyvrexQuestor Reyes » 20 Jul 2019, 09:56

This book deals with a worthy and relevant subject. It could not be denied that the weather patterns have changed considerably in some areas. But these local changes will redound to climatic change on a global scale. The kinds of fuel used would surely give its own signature in the surroundings. This book is really more of a textual material than just that of pleasurable reading. Thanks for this comprehensive review.
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