Book: A Community Cracked Open by Fracking

This article reviews a new book that documents the impact that fracking has had on a small Pennsylvania town and the families that liver there.

Any ideology operating under the seismic pressures of the actual world will reveal a seam of inconsistency, a line of vulnerability running through it like a stress fracture. Free-market conservatives, for instance, have tried to square their support for big business with their professed fondness for little communities, sometimes by suggesting that the interests of both are one and the same.

Eliza Griswold will tell you what happens when they’re not. Scratch that: Eliza Griswold will show you what happens when they’re not. Her sensitive and judicious new book, “Amity and Prosperity: One Family and the Fracturing of America,” is 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, or fracking, a process that injects water and chemicals deep into the ground in order to shake loose deposits of natural gas.

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