Rated Reads

The First Billion Is the Hardest: Reflections on a Life of Comebacks and America’s Energy Future

by T. Boone Pickens

Rated: Moderate

Ostensibly, this is an autobiography of a man whose life has centered around oil and gas, and who has made (and lost) fortunes in those arenas. (One might even hope to learn some kind of practical advice on how to become a multimillionaire, but one would be disappointed.) Realistically, however, T. Boone Pickens only uses the first dozen chapters to set the reader up for the final message: The United States of America needs to wake up and install leaders who can cut off our dependence on foreign oil. The man’s voice is insistent and determined: weaning America from foreign oil will not solve our future dilemmas; only a drastic, surgical excision will suffice.

T. Boone is not a naturally gifted writer; his style is rambling and, at times, incoherent. During the first half of the book, the reader thinks that Pickens is simply in love with himself, and wonders why in the world the book should even be finished. The man’s life is so interesting, however, that even the egotistical undertones can be tolerated, just to see what happens next. Not to mention the fact that he is truly passionate about the topics he expounds upon. By the time one nears the end, it is clear what is going on, and although I hate to admit it, I was impressed. The only section that is really, really worth reading (and re-reading) is Chapter 13, “The Big Idea: An Energy Plan for America.” Absolutely everything else in this book is a prelude to a well-thought-out and practical plan of action to make the United States energy-independent.

Make no mistake, T. Boone Pickens is not shy, nor does he pull any punches. He has no political agenda and does not care who sits in the White House. It is impossible to agree with every facet of his ideals, but this work clearly indicates that he cares about his country and its future. He has spent his entire life in the energy sector, and it shows; he simply knows how the system works. Anyone who has ever wanted to know more about all aspects of energy production and delivery would benefit from reading this book.

Rated: Moderate, for a half-dozen uses of a couple of strongly profane terms (no f-bombs, though), and over 50 uses of a handful of milder terms.

— Reviewed by Craig Smith

Craig Smith is chief medical officer of Tacoma Cat Hospital. In addition to providing book reviews on Rated Reads, he podcasts about feline health issues through iTunes and www.tacomacat.com.

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  • The First Billion Is the Hardest: Reflections on a Life of Comebacks and America’s Energy Future
  • by T. Boone Pickens
  • Rated: Moderate
  • Genre: Nonfiction
  • Reviewer: