High Tension: Fdr's Battle to Power America

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Product Details
$18.99  $17.66
Diversion Books
Publish Date
6.0 X 8.9 X 0.9 inches | 0.85 pounds
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About the Author
John A. (Jack) Riggs studied history at Swarthmore College but took a lengthy detour into public policy before writing High Tension. Now a Senior Fellow at the Aspen Institute, he was at the center of energy policymaking in Washington, DC, for more than thirty years. He taught a graduate seminar in energy policy for five years at the University of Pennsylvania, moderated energy forums at the Aspen Institute, and testified more than a dozen times before Congressional energy committees.

He received a master's degree in public policy at Princeton's Woodrow Wilson School and served five years in Vietnam with the Agency for International Development during the war. As Staff Director of the House Energy and Power Subcommittee, he participated in all the major energy legislation of the 1980s and early 1990s. From 1993 to 1995 he was Deputy Assistant Secretary and then Assistant Secretary for Policy and International Affairs at the U.S. Department of Energy.

As Executive Director of the Aspen Institute Energy and Environment Program and as Senior Fellow, Riggs led the renowned Aspen Energy Policy Forum for nineteen years. He has edited or co-edited several Aspen Institute books and reports.

Riggs served on the Swarthmore College Board of Managers for fourteen years, as chair of the board's Governance Committee, and as president of the college's Alumni Association. He and his wife live in Washington, DC.
"The little known but captivating story of electricity is at the heart of the New Deal. John A. Riggs is the perfect person to tell the tale. The battles between America's most politically astute president and a powerful industry created the hybrid, public-private electricity system that we know today. The compromises necessary to ensure equity and the public interest while unleashing the energy of private markets can inform the discussion of current issues such as telecommunications, infrastructure, and tax policy."
-Walter Isaacson, author of The Innovators, Leonardo da Vinci, and Steve Jobs

"Electricity was the internet of its day-and bringing it to the countryside affected more Americans than any other New Deal program. It was also the source of a bitter struggle between public and private power, full of 'high tension'-the double entendre title of John A. Riggs's lucid and compelling tale. This is a fresh angle of vision on one of the most important and under-appreciated stories of the first half of the 20th century."
-Jonathan Alter, author of The Defining Moment: FDR's Hundred Days and the Triumph of Hope

"[A]n exhaustive look at President Franklin Roosevelt's multipronged war against the private utility sector....Riggs dives deep into the legislative, judicial, and public opinion battles over Roosevelt's energy initiatives, including the Tennessee Valley Authority, and argues that the hybrid public-private system that emerged in America was critical to the nation's 'economic global supremacy' during and after WWII....[T]his authoritative account is a valuable resource for students of America's energy policy."
-Publishers Weekly

"High Tension: Franklin Roosevelt's Battle to Power America is an innovative history of the chaos and conniving that created America's transformative electricity system (judged by The Atlantic to be the greatest invention since the printing press). Jack Riggs has given us a compelling read. Thoroughly researched and gracefully written, it crisply covers the historical panorama of the New Deal's hard-won achievements of breaking up the giant utility holding companies and bringing light and power to the vast darkened regions of our nation. A must for historians, it is also a gripping read for all."
-Martin J. Sherwin, Pulitzer Prize-winning co-author of American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer, and author of A World Destroyed: Hiroshima and Its Legacies

"High Tension vividly tells of FDR's struggle to control giant utility holding companies, build government dams, and electrify rural America. He took on powerful interests and reshaped the electricity system as a novel public-private enterprise-a legacy that continues to this day. John A. Riggs tells an important story with relevance today, from reinventing electricity regulation to accommodate new clean energy technology to offering lessons for universal broadband access."
-Ernest J. Moniz, U.S. Secretary of Energy, 2013-2017, CEO Energy Futures Initiative

"Narrative history at its best. Riggs brings FDR to life as he gathers a team of brilliant and eccentric New Dealers to battle for public power, rural electrification, and the abolition of holding companies. The industry fights back with a coalition of stock manipulators and free enterprise proponents led by a remarkable advocate named Wendell Willkie."
-Bruce Babbitt, U.S. Secretary of the Interior, 1992-2000

"The story of electrification is the story we must return to, over and over again, to understand what it really means to build a public utility. Our age, like every age, has its essential services, and as John A. Riggs demonstrates, getting it right does not happen by accident, nor without a fight,