A book, unlike a newspaper article, has more room to make people and places come alive, and this is the biggest disappointment of The Frackers. I read a hundred pages about Mitchell Energy, but I couldn’t tell you what its headquarters looked like. Neither of Chesapeake’s founders, McClendon or Ward, springs off the page, either. The book is littered with characters whose physical appearances are described in a phrase or two at best.
Throughout, Zuckerman maintains a laser-like focus on the fracking companies and their top executives. This results in what I call conference-room history; I can’t remember a single scene set around an actual well, or even a single description of one.
Tangents repeatedly, and strangely, slither into corners of executives’ personal lives. And the author doesn’t spend much time examining the potential environmental impacts of fracking, which are relegated to the end of the book. What he says is dismissive, and should be explored further.
Zuckerman may have yet to find his true voice, but his book is nonetheless a cut above others of its type. The Frackers is a good, solid read for anyone interested in fracking or the oil and natural gas industry. And for all my reviewer-ish carping, I’ll be among the first to buy his next offering.