High Tension - FDR's Battle to Power America
Publisher: Diversion Books
• A Story That Resonates Today: Think of today’s concerns over huge corporations in control of health care, broadband, and infrastructure. When FDR reshaped the electricity industry, a precedent was set: Government has a critical role to play in shaping and policing industries and services critical to people’s daily lives. The public-private system that emerged from the struggle has withstood the test of time. • The Real Story Behind the Creation of the President FDR We Think of Today: Other books neglect the fact that Roosevelt staked his political career on rural electrification and government dams in upstate New York in his run for Governor. His study of the problem raised his consciousness of life’s inequities and set him on his path as architect of the New Deal. As president he took the fight to the holding companies. • The Story of Two Americas in the First Half of the 20th Century: The electrified cities vs. the non-electrified country, still living in an era consumed by backbreaking chores. This book paints a picture of that divide—one that readers can compare/contrast with the societal divisions of today. • Technological Marvels: This is also the story of AC vs. DC electricity, Edison vs. Westinghouse vs. Tesla; the TVA and the building of huge dams to harness the power of rivers; and how electricity fueled World War II’s “Arsenal of Democracy” • An Oft-Forgotten Symbol of Corporate Greed: With think of monopolies in railroads and coal and oil as symbols of greed before the Stock Market Crash of 1929, but this book shows that the giant electricity holding companies were one of the most potent symbols of greed at the time of the Wall Street Crash of 1929. • Introducing Samuel Insull: Edison’s business manager stars in this story. A fascinating early-20th century villain, he should be spoken of as a monopolist in the same way we speak about Rockefeller and JP Morgan. • Reintroduction of a Great American Political Figure: Wendell Willkie is given a deeply intriguing treatment, pointing out the irony of his winding up in opposition to the aristocratic FDR over the most heated issue of the day enrich the narrative. Willkie carefully curated his small-town-boy image even as he amassed great wealth as president of a huge holding company in New York and became the leader of the utility industry. Roosevelt cabinet member Harold Ickes acidly called him “just a simple barefoot boy from Wall Street.” • Fills a Gap on the U.S. history Shelf Next to Empires of Light: Jill Jonnes’s story of the 19th century beginnings of the electricity industry. • Historical Superlative: The proposal to break up the electricity holding companies was called the most controversial legislation since the 1854 Kansas-Nebraska Act • Author platform: Riggs has been at the center of energy policymaking in Washington for over 35 years. As a committee staff director in Congress, as Assistant Secretary of Energy, and as Executive Director of the Aspen Institute’s Energy and Environment Program, he observed the recent transformation of the electricity industry and helped develop the policies that govern it. He has testified numerous times before Congress, edited several Aspen Institute books, taught energy policy at Penn, and moderated energy forums at the Aspen Institute.