Amity and Prosperity: Book summary and reviews of Amity and Prosperity by Eliza Griswold

Amity and Prosperity

One Family and the Fracturing of America

by Eliza Griswold

Amity and Prosperity by Eliza Griswold X
Amity and Prosperity by Eliza Griswold
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Book Summary

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.

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Book Awards

  • award image Pulitzer Prize for Letters, Drama and Music, 2019

Reviews

Media Reviews

"Expertly constructed ... Griswold ― the kind of reporter who can convince a subject to let her reveal the message inside a Valentine card, and who notices what color somebody's refrigerator is ― painstakingly builds the narrative amid its historical and social context ... Her relentless, measured narration helped me understand my own blind spots ― that sadness over ruined views is a kind of class privilege, the outgrowth of a particular stance toward the land ... Griswold's brilliant choice is to focus tightly on a small group of residents and let the details of their predicament speak for themselves. Thoroughly reported and tightly paced, Amity and Prosperity is an essential document of the region's latest go-round with the riches underfoot." - Erika Howsare, Los Angeles Review of Books

"Amity and Prosperity is at heart a David and Goliath story fit for the movies. It h.as everything but a happy ending: bucolic setting concealing fortune and danger; poor but proud locals who've endured sequential boom bust cycles of resource extraction ... tough, reluctant victim-heroes ... and a courtroom drama, as a tenacious husband-wife legal team takes on the industry and the state ... [a] valuable, discomforting book" - JoAnn Wypijewski, The New York Times

"Riveting ... Page-turner ... If J.D. Vance's Hillbilly Elegy famously portrayed the Rust Belt ethos of Appalachian transplants into southern Ohio, Amity and Prosperity tells with vivid detail the contours of daily life in Washington and Greene counties ... Ms. Griswold is an energetic writer, and the characters she writes about are themselves colorful, raw and dogged ... Amity and Prosperity becomes not only a glimpse into postindustrial small towns and the environmental consequences of fracking, but also a legal thriller worthy of any novel by John Grisham." - Byron Borger, Pittsburg Post-Gazette

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Author Information

Eliza Griswold

Eliza Griswold is the author of The Tenth Parallel: Dispatches from the Fault Line Between Christianity and Islam, which won the 2011 J. Anthony Lukas Book Prize. Her translations of Afghan women's folk poems, I Am the Beggar of the World, was awarded the 2015 PEN Award for Poetry in Translation. She has held fellowships from the New America Foundation, the Guggenheim Foundation, and Harvard University, and in 2010
the American Academy in Rome awarded her the Rome Prize for her poems. Currently a Distinguished Writer in Residence at New York University, she lives in New York with her husband and son.

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