Eliza Griswold’s book Amity and Prosperity: One Family and the Fracturing of America examines the impacts of fracking in western Pennsylvania, and on Monday it was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in General Nonfiction.
Griswold’s book carefully refuses the birds-eye view of fracking’s impacts — readers will find few state or national statistics — and instead presents the detailed results of seven years of on-the-ground reporting. It traces the story of one extended family in western Pennsylvania, a small handful of neighbors, and eventually the two-person legal team that took on their case, now covered by a sealed settlement with natural gas driller, Range Resources, which still faces additional related legal battles today.
The New York Times Book Review called Amity and Prosperity a “valuable, discomforting book.” The 336-page narrative presents the Haney family’s experiences as a story of failed systems, both legal and political, and the pummeling of small town residents in the Marcellus Shale, not only by the arrival of fracking, but also by the region’s long history with extractive industries like timber, coal, and steel; by the national painkiller addiction epidemic; and by the extraordinary difficulties created by the decline of family farming.
The book begins at — and frequently returns to — the county fair’s 4H competition, where Stacey Haney’s son and daughter are entering “two goats, two pigs and four rabbits.” Griswold recounts how Stacey, a nurse, and her neighbors suffer as family pets, prize goats, and treasured horses become ill and die — and at the same time, Stacey’s son Harley is suffering from a mysterious ailment that neither Stacey nor the doctors are initially able to diagnose.
Book Spoiler Alert
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