Jeff Goodell biography

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Jeff Goodell
Photo: 2005 Jonathan Barber

Jeff Goodell

Jeff Goodell Biography

Jeff Goodell was born and raised in Silicon Valley, where his family had lived for four generations. He has worked as a blackjack dealer, a glazier, a janitor, a bartender at a topless club, an editor at a Russian literary journal, and a technical writer at Apple. He has a BA in English from the University of California, Berkeley, and an MFA in Fiction Writing from Columbia University.

He began his career as a journalist covering crime and politics in New York City for 7 Days, a weekly magazine that won a National Magazine Award for General Excellence in 1990. Since 1996 he has been a Contributing Editor at Rolling Stone, where he has written about a wide variety of subjects, from hookers and politicians to climate scientists and internet billionaires. "Down and Out in Silicon Valley," a Rolling Stone story chronicling life in homeless shelters in the Valley, was chosen as one of the best business stories of the year by the editors of BusinessWeek. He has also written for lots of other publications, including The New York Times Magazine, The New Republic and Wired.

His first book, The Cyberthief and the Samurai (Dell, 1996), grew out of a Rolling Stone article and told the story of the hunt for notorious computer hacker Kevin Mitnick. His next book, Sunnyvale (Villard, 2000), a memoir about growing up in Silicon Valley, was selected as a New York Times Notable Book. In 2001, he wrote a story about the comeback of the U.S. coal industry for The New York Times Magazine. That article made him curious to understand more about what goes on behind the light switch and lead, indirectly, to his third book, Our Story (Hyperion, 2002), an account of nine miners trapped in a Pennsylvania coal mine for 77 hours, which was a national bestseller.

He spent the next three years reporting and writing Big Coal: The Dirty Secret Behind America's Energy Future (Houghton Mifflin, 2006). He spent a week in an underground mine in Pennsylvania, hiked through West Virginia with anti-mountaintop removal activists, rode a coal train through the Black Hills of South Dakota, toured coal plants in China, and spent a month in the North Atlantic with climate scientists aboard the R/V Knorr, a research vessel operated by Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. To research his latest book, How to Cool the Planet: Geoengineering and the Audacious Quest to Fix Earth's Climate, he spent several years with some of the world's top climate modelers, as well as Cold War physicists, philosophers, politicians, and crackpot entrepreneurs, all of whom are involved with the development of new technologies that might someday be used to manipulate the earth's climate to reduce the risks associated with global warming. How to Cool the Planet won the 2011 Grantham Prize Award of Special Merit. He published The Water Will Come: Rising Seas, Sinking Cities, and the Remaking of the Civilized World in late 2017.

As a commentator on energy and environmental issues, he has appeared on NPR, MSNBC, CNN, CNBC, ABC, NBC, PBS, Fox News and The Oprah Winfrey Show.



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Interview

A Conversation with Jeff Goodell about Big Coal: The Dirty Secret Behind America’s Energy Future which debunks the faulty assumptions underlying coal's revival and shatters the myth of cheap coal energy.

Why did you decide to write a book about coal?

In the spring of 2001, the New York Times Magazine sent me down to West Virginia to write about the comeback of the coal industry. Coal had played an important role in the election of George W. Bush in 2000 — West Virginia, an important coal state which hadn’t voted Republican in many years, was widely credited with giving Bush his margin of victory — and it was clear that coal would play an increasingly important role in America’s energy future. But visiting West Virginia was an eye-opening experience for me, in part because, like many Americans, I’d naively assumed that coal had gone out with top hats and corsets. I was astonished to learn that the United States burns more than a billion tons of coal a year, mostly to generate electricity. More than half our electric power comes from coal-fired power plants. In West Virginia, I got a close look at the high cost of our dependence on coal — not just the hundreds of square miles of mountains that have been decapitated by strip mines in the southern part of the state, but also the poverty and hardship that I witnessed in many coal-mining towns. I began to ask some obvious ...

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Books by this Author

Books by Jeff Goodell at BookBrowse
The Water Will Come jacket How to Cool the Planet jacket Big Coal jacket
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Readalikes

All the books below are recommended as readalikes for Jeff Goodell but some maybe more relevant to you than others depending on which books by the author you have read and enjoyed. So look for the suggested read-alikes by title linked on the right.
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  • Diane Ackerman

    Diane Ackerman

    Poet, essayist, and naturalist, Diane Ackerman is the author of many highly acclaimed works of nonfiction, including A Natural History of the Senses -- a book beloved by readers all over the world and the volumes Deep Play, A... (more)

    If you enjoyed:
    The Water Will Come

    Try:
    The Human Age
    by Diane Ackerman

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    Dani Anguiano

    Dani Anguiano writes for the Guardian and was formerly a reporter for the Chico Enterprise-Record, where she covered Butte County, including Chico and Paradise. Having lived in Butte County for a decade, Anguiano now resides ... (more)

    If you enjoyed:
    The Water Will Come

    Try:
    Fire in Paradise
    by Dani Anguiano

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