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Boom and bust in the oil patch

Two books by Alberta authors examine the fortunes and criticisms surrounding one of the country’s most controversial resources


* The Patch: The People, Pipelines, and Politics of the Oil Sands

Chris Turner Simon & Schuster Canada

Oil’s Deep State: How the Petroleum Industry Undermines Democracy and Stops Action on Global Warming – in Alberta, and in Ottawa

Kevin Taft James Lorimer & Company

FOR ALL THE wealth they potentially possess, Alberta’s vast petroleum reserves have proved a mixed blessing at best. Even the industry’s staunchest defenders have to concede that the laborious extraction of oil from sand has left the province’s economic fortunes lurching unpredictably from boom to bust. Add to that the resulting ecological degradation that necessarily flows from wringing usable bitumen from sand and clay and the promise becomes murkier still. Two timely books by Alberta writers Chris Turner and Kevin Taft offer insightful if somewhat differing perspectives on bedeviling issues around oil sands development.

Calgary journalist Chris Turner’s engaging and balanced The Patch: The People, Pipelines, and Politics of the Oil Sands is a wide-ranging survey that mixes history, geology, technology, and politics with detailed stories of people who work in the industry and are directly affected by its volatility. The Patch, while not always painting a pretty picture of the oil sands, generally refrains from being overly judgmental.

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About Quill & Quire

Kidlit Spotlight: how children's book authors uncover beauty, hope, and adventure in the dark places; Fall book reviews: New reads from Frances Itani, Mariko Tamaki, Chris Turner, and Anne Michaels.