Amity and Prosperity : One Family and the Fracturing of America
by Eliza Griswold

Overview -

In Amity and Prosperity , the prizewinning poet and journalist Eliza Griswold tells the story of the energy boom's impact on a small town at the edge of Appalachia and one woman's transformation from a struggling single parent to an unlikely activist.  Read more...

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More About Amity and Prosperity by Eliza Griswold

In Amity and Prosperity, the prizewinning poet and journalist Eliza Griswold tells the story of the energy boom's impact on a small town at the edge of Appalachia and one woman's transformation from a struggling single parent to an unlikely activist.

Stacey Haney is a local nurse working hard to raise two kids and keep up her small farm when the fracking boom comes to her hometown of Amity, Pennsylvania. Intrigued by reports of lucrative natural gas leases in her neighbors' mailboxes, she strikes a deal with a Texas-based energy company. Soon trucks begin rumbling past her small farm, a fenced-off drill site rises on an adjacent hilltop, and domestic animals and pets start to die. When mysterious sicknesses begin to afflict her children, she appeals to the company for help. Its representatives insist that nothing is wrong.

Alarmed by her children's illnesses, Haney joins with neighbors and a committed husband-and-wife legal team to investigate what's really in the water and air. Against local opposition, Haney and her allies doggedly pursue their case in court and begin to expose the damage that's being done to the land her family has lived on for centuries. Soon a community that has long been suspicious of outsiders faces wrenching new questions about who is responsible for their fate, and for redressing it: The faceless corporations that are poisoning the land? The environmentalists who fail to see their economic distress? A federal government that is mandated to protect but fails on the job? Drawing on seven years of immersive reporting, Griswold reveals what happens when an imperiled town faces a crisis of values, and a family wagers everything on an improbable quest for justice.

  • ISBN-13: 9780374103118
  • ISBN-10: 0374103119
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
  • Publish Date: June 2018
  • Page Count: 336
  • Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.3 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds

Related Categories

Books > Nature > Environmental Conservation & Protection - General
Books > Business & Economics > Industries - Natural Resource Extraction
Books > Business & Economics > Industries - Energy

BookPage Reviews

Under the wheels of "progress"

The grim story Eliza Griswold tells in Amity and Prosperity will seem familiar to readers who know the tale of New York’s Love Canal or have read Jonathan Harr’s prize-winning book A Civil Action. 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’ farmhouse is located downhill from a pond containing waste products from the process of hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” which is used to extract natural gas from the underlying shale deposit.

The Haneys’ worsening financial and health problems eventually drive them to lawyers John and Kendra Smith, partners in a small, local law firm. Though the Smiths’ dogged efforts in the face of fierce resistance from gas producer Range Resources and other defendants yielded only mixed results for the Haneys and their neighbors, they were able to creatively invoke Pennsylvania’s Environmental Rights Amendment, successfully using it for the first time in an action against polluters.

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.


This article was originally published in the June 2018 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.

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