Amity and Prosperity tells with vivid detail the contours of daily life in Washington and Greene counties ... The book’s subtitle, 'One Family and the Fracturing of America,' is a significant play on words as well as this riveting book is very much about the contested practice of industrial fracking ... Ms. Griswold’s descriptions are spot on and clearly recognizable ... Although the story is a page-turner exposing corporate injustices, dishonesty and public malfeasance...it is still appealing to read about places one knows ... Ms. Griswold is an energetic writer, and the characters she writes about are themselves colorful, raw and dogged ... not only a glimpse into postindustrial small towns and the environmental consequences of fracking but also a legal thriller worthy of any novel by John Grisham.
Those who think they know what they talk about when they talk about fracking have a lot to learn from Griswold’s painstaking and compassionate research ... Griswold forces her reader to confront a set of heartbreaking, systemic failures, starting with the failure of the American justice system ... If there are faults to this book, they result less from errors on Griswold’s part than bureaucratic malfeasance: much of the information that Griswold needed in order to tell this story remains shielded by intellectual property law or sealed off at the behest of court settlements ... Griswold’s book does more than offer an investigative account of fracking in rural Appalachia; it shows how this region, once a hotbed of union organizing and liberal politics, suddenly ran red. It answers the questions that eluded so many journalists ... One of Griswold’s more significant achievements lies in her having successfully made fracking a topic of conversation again, long after the word itself had become a regular and, perhaps, all-too-comfortable part of everyone’s vocabulary.
Griswold’s penetrating story explores the consequences of our nation’s ill-advised zeal for exploiting abundant natural resources and features rapacious corporations, inept—if not complicit—regulators and hapless victims in a small Pennsylvania town. Hapless, that is, until they hire an unlikely husband-and-wife legal team to help them seek justice. Most of the action unfolds in and around the small town of Amity in southwestern Pennsylvania ... Beginning in 2010, Griswold made 37 trips to the region to report the story, and she focuses her careful investigation on nurse Stacey Haney and her two children...The Haneys’ worsening financial and health problems eventually drive them to lawyers John and Kendra Smith, partners in a small, local law firm ... Griswold’s sobering book is yet one more in a growing roster of works that detail the price some members of American society have been forced to pay to serve the convenience and comfort of their fellow citizens.
Democratic primaries in state legislative races around Washington County, Pennsylvania, where Eliza Griswold spent parts of seven years during a massive fracking boom ... closely depicts the lives of the rural Western Pennsylvanians whom (Griswold) visited off and on for seven years as they were worn down by fracking pollution and the grind of working poverty.
Based on years of immersive reporting, Griswold’s expertly constructed book follows the legal battle that ensued when a single frack site began to affect three neighboring families ... It’s a sickening story, and Griswold — the kind of reporter who can convince a subject to let her reveal the message inside a Valentine card, and who notices what color somebody’s refrigerator is — painstakingly builds the narrative amid its historical and social context ... Griswold’s brilliant choice is to focus tightly on a small group of residents and let the details of their predicament speak for themselves. Thoroughly reported and tightly paced, Amity and Prosperity is an essential document of the region’s latest go-round with the riches underfoot.
Griswold reports so much government neglect, deception and collusion ... Her impressive research notwithstanding, Amity and Prosperity is at heart a David and Goliath story fit for the movies. It has everything but a happy ending ... Mood carries the story ... Through most of the action she strives to be polite.
Griswold’s (The Tenth Parallel, 2010) empathetic yet analytical account of Haney’s indefatigable role as advocate for justice is a thorough and thoroughly blood-pressure-raising account of the greed and fraud embedded in the environmentally ruinous natural-gas industry. As honest and unvarnished an account of the human cost of corporate corruption as one will find.
Griswold immerses herself with a few Pennsylvania families in rural areas near Pittsburgh to chronicle their life-threatening battles against the fracking industry ... At a meeting of concerned citizens receiving payments for fracking on their land but angry about unforeseen environmental degradation, Griswold met Stacey Haney. A lifelong citizen of Amity—near the nearly depopulated town of Prosperity—Haney, a nurse, has been worried that harmful elements from the fracking process have yielded chronic illnesses in herself and her children ... A solid addition to the burgeoning literature on the social and health-related effects of fracking.
... [a] wonderful account, the deserved winner of this year’s Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction ... Griswold, focused on her characters, tells little of this larger story, and misses entirely another important dimension of the controversy. Early on, as she mentions, some environmentalists looked at the natural gas that fracking produced as an ally in the fight against climate change, because it produces less carbon dioxide than coal when burned in a power plant. But over the same years that she’s telling her story, and just a few hundred miles away in the labs of Cornell University, scientists were actually finding that the methane released by fracking more than made up for the reduction in carbon – all in all, this new fracked gas was just as bad as coal...Griswold’s account would have been stronger had she worked it in ... She avoided it, perhaps, to keep her focus on the rural residents of the region. And this focus is one of the strongest parts of the book. Fracking allows her to explore the lives of people who are usually ignored; we get a sense of their great strengths in the face of adversity, as well as their devout belief in the trustworthiness of corporations ... The virtue of Griswold’s reporting is that, though it’s never sentimental, you understand and sympathize with these men and women.
Journalist Griswold comprehensively examines the circumstances surrounding the lawsuit that Stacey Haney, a nurse and single mother, filed against energy company Range Resources ... Griswold combines Haney’s perspective with those of her attorneys, John Smith and Kendra Smith, during the years-long legal saga, which was settled for an undisclosed amount in early 2018. Griswold brings attention to the emotional and financial tolls Haney and her family endured in this revealing portrait of rural America in dire straits.
It is hard to imagine now, but there was a moment, in the late 1960s, when the environment wasn’t a partisan football but rather an intensely popular concern. Americans were dying from smog, oil spills were ruining beaches, rivers were catching on fire, and some 20 million people participated in the first Earth Day, in April 1970. In response to public pressure, Richard Nixon created the Environmental Protection Agency. ‘Restoring nature to its natural state is a cause beyond party and beyond factions,’ the president said ‘…Clean air, clean water, open spaces — these should once again be the birthright of every American. If we act now, they can be.’ … In her new book, Amity and Prosperity journalist Eliza Griswold provides a deeply human counterpoint to this political fray. She takes on the decidedly fraught issue of energy extraction through a vivid, compassionate portrait of one family living in the long shadow of industry.