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Edison to Enron: Energy Markets and Political Strategies

Book 2 in a Trilogy on Political Capitalism
By Robert L. Bradley Jr.
Series: Political Capitalism Trilogy
Copyright: 2011   |   Status: Published
ISBN: 9780470917367  |  Hardcover  |  1 lb
602 pages | 120 illustrations
Price: $49.95 USD
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One Line Description
While explaining the connections between Enron and Edison, the book takes the reader through the flamboyant history of the American energy industry and sets the stage for Ken Lay's entry on the energy stage.

• Industry practitioners interested in energy especially of gas and electricity.
• Academics and regulators interested in energy.
• Historians of business.
• Business management specialists.
• Political economists

Watch a video for the book at

Energy, the master resource, is the world’s largest industry and the bedrock of modern life. Without carbon-based energy, in particular, production and consumption as we know it would not exist. For most people, oil, gas, and coal have made life possible, not only pleasant.

During the last 150 years, the United States has been at the forefront of energy development. Robert L. Bradley Jr.’s Edison to Enron chronicles important swaths of this history by focusing on the great entrepreneurs of electricity and natural gas: their lives and labors, their faults and failures, their mortal enemies, and their sometimes more deadly friends.

Samuel Insull transformed the inventions of Thomas Edison into the modern electricity industry—only to have an Enron/Ken Lay-like fall late in his career. John Henry Kirby helped Texas enter the big leagues with timber, oil, and gas between his two bankruptcies. And Clint Murchison, Ray Fish, Robert Herring, and Jack Bowen, among others chronicled in the book, went through ups and downs in their quest to displace manufactured (coal) gas with cheaper, cleaner natural gas across the United States and in Canada.

Bradley’s book covers market entrepreneurship, especially resourceship in regard to energy minerals. Yet there are also significant instances in which the energy creators engaged in political entrepreneurship, or rent-seeking, by extracting special government favor for pecuniary advantage. The waste and perils of the latter provide a stark contrast to the benefits and prudence of free-market enterprise.

Edison to Enron also tracks the career of Kenneth L. Lay, from a minor government bureaucrat to the heir apparent at Transco Energy Company to the wunderkind CEO of Houston Natural G

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"This is a powerful story, brilliantly told." Forrest McDonald, Historian

"This scholarly work fills in much missing history about two of America's most important industries, electricity and natural gas." Joseph A. Pratt, NEH-Cullen Professor of History and Business, University of Houston

"... a remarkable book on the political inner workings of the U.S. energy industry." Robert Peltier, PE, Editor-in-Chief, POWER Magazine

"Edison to Enron synthesizes business history, economic history, biography, and political economy to tell a compelling tale of innovation and new value creation in two energy industries, as well as increasing regulation and political capitalism in them." Lynne Kiesling

"This readable work offers great, interesting coverage of personalities and politics, with little economic analysis." Summing Up: Highly recommended." Choice Magazine

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Author / Editor Details
Robert L. Bradley Jr. a 16-year Enron employee and Ken Lay confidant, is a noted free-market scholar and public-policy entrepreneur. The founder and chairman of the Institute for Energy Research, Bradley is the author of numerous books and essays on the history and political economy of energy. He is an adjunct scholar of the Cato Institute in Washington, D.C.; a visiting fellow of the Institute of Economic Affairs in London; and an honorary senior research fellow at the Center for Energy Economics at the University of Texas at Austin. In 2002, he received the Julian Simon Memorial Award for his work on energy and sustainable development.

Bradley lives in Houston and likes to spend time in the beautiful Texas Hill Country.

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Table of Contents

Introduction: Energy History in Rhyme

Part I: The Chief (Samuel Insull)

Chapter 1. Building General Electric.
Chapter 2. Dynamo at Chicago Edison (1892–1907).
Chapter 3. Expanding Horizons (1907–1918).
Chapter 4. Peak and Peril (1919–29).
Chapter 5. Plummet and Ruin (1930–38).

Part II: The Boss (Jack Bowen)

Chapter 6. Meadows to Murchison.
Chapter 7. A Monumental Mistake.
Chapter 8. Florida Gas Company.
Chapter 9. Transco Energy Company.

Part III: Enron Predecessor (Houston Natural Gas)

Chapter 10. The Prince of Bankruptcy.
Chapter 11. Pretty Boy and Mr. Pipeliner.
Chapter 12. Formation and Maturation.
Chapter 13. Robert Herring and After.

Epilogue: Market Order, Political Disorder

Name Index.
Subject Index.

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TEC 031030: Technology and Engineering/Power Resources/Fossil Fuels
BUS 070040: Business & Economics/Industries/Energy
POL 002000: Political Science/Public Policy/Commercial Policy
KCP: Political Economy
KNB: Energy Industries & Utlilies
KJH: Entrepreneurship

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Author/Editor Details
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View our other books in this trilogy!
Book 1 | Book 3