Rachel Maddow is host of the Emmy Award-winning Rachel Maddow Show on MSNBC, as well as the author of Drift: The Unmooring of American Military Power, a #1 New York Times bestseller. Maddow will discuss her new book, Blowout, which reveals the power of the unimaginably lucrative and equally corrupting oil-and-gas industry.
In 2010, the words “earthquake swarm” entered the lexicon in Oklahoma. That same year, a trove of Michael Jackson memorabilia—including his iconic crystal-encrusted white glove—was sold at auction for over $1 million to a guy who was, officially, just the lowly forestry minster of the tiny nation of Equatorial New Guinea. And in 2014, Ukrainian revolutionaries raided the palace of their ousted president and found a zoo of peacocks, gilded toilets, and a floating restaurant modeled after a Spanish galleon. Unlikely as it might seem, there is a thread connecting these events, and Rachel Maddow follows it to its crooked source.
With her trademark black humor, Maddow takes us on a switchback journey around the globe, revealing the greed and incompetence of Big Oil and Gas along the way, and drawing a surprising conclusion about how and why the Russian government hacked the 2016 U.S. election. She deftly shows how Russia’s rich reserves of crude have, paradoxically, stunted its growth, forcing Putin to maintain his power by spreading Russia’s rot into its rivals, its neighbors, the West’s most important alliances, and the United States. Chevron, BP, and a host of other industry players get their star turn, most notably ExxonMobil and the deceptively well-behaved Rex Tillerson. The oil-and-gas industry has weakened democracies in developed and developing countries, fouled oceans and rivers, and propped up authoritarian thieves and killers. But being outraged at this is, according to Maddow, “like being indignant when a lion takes down and eats a gazelle. You can’t really blame the lion. It’s in her nature.”
Blowout is a call to contain the lion: to stop subsidizing the wealthiest businesses on earth, to fight for transparency, and to check the influence of the world’s most destructive industry and its enablers. The stakes have never been higher. As Maddow writes, “Democracy either wins this one or disappears.”
Rachel Maddow is host of the Emmy Award–winning Rachel Maddow Show on MSNBC, as well as the author of Drift: The Unmooring of American Military Power, a #1 New York Times bestseller. Maddow received a bachelor’s degree in public policy from Stanford University and earned her doctorate in political science at Oxford University. She lives in New York City and Massachusetts with her partner, artist Susan Mikula.
Joni Balter, SAL’s moderator for the evening, is a multi-media journalist and lecturer. She hosts “Civic Cocktail,’’ sponsored by Seattle CityClub and the Seattle Channel. She is a regular on NPR affiliate, KUOW’s “Week in Review” and provides political analysis Friday mornings on KUOW. She also contributes to Bloomberg Opinion. Balter is professional-in-residence at the Institute of Public Service at Seattle University and teaches at the University of Washington’s Evans Graduate School of Public Policy and Governance.