On the Grid: A Plot of Land, an Average Neighborhood,
and the Systems That Make Our World Work
I stepped out of my house once in Nashville and saw a guy in a bucket truck doing something to the overhead wires. Well, what are you doing? "Nothing big," he said. "Just tying another circuit into the grid." I went a little crazy. The grid! We think of it as this concept, and yet there it is, hanging above our heads: it occupies space! It has weight! The grid actually exists, and my house hung right there at the end of one of its branches. I got to thinking of all the various grids—power, water, wastewater, gas, roads, cable, radio waves—that constantly serve us and thought that would make a great series for the public radio station I worked at then. Well, the best laid plans, right? But ten years, two moves, two kids, and two books later, I guess I was still thinking about it, because here came this book.
I had a great time discussing this book with the folks at WUNC radio. Take a listen!
“Huler sets out to better understand the infrastructures that bring power, water, telecommunications, transportation, sewage treatment and other amenities … Huler explains the genesis and evolution of the electrical grid and writes a bit on hopes for the new Smart Grid…. Huler reminds his readers that the grid is nothing more than an extension of our own greed (‘our infrastructure, ourselves.’)”
— Los Angeles Times
“Inquisitive everyman Huler takes an obsessively detailed behind the scenes look at wires, water pipes, and other typically ignored but terribly important pathways that lie beneath our feet. …. Investigations unfold via a pleasant, relatable approach based on the everyday experiences Huler and his family have had … there's enough well-reported, thoughtfully observed analysis to satisfy inquisitive minds.”
-- Publishers Weekly
“The ever-curious Scott Huler aims to educate us about infrastructure. … A smoothly written account of his infrastructure adventures, including an important conclusion he reaches along the way.”
-- Raleigh News & Observer
Rodale Press, 2010; paperback, Rodale Press 2011.
Click on the book to buy it at Amazon. Though it's worth noting I try to buy books at my local independent bookseller or used bookstore.
“Terrific … fascinating.”
-- “Here and Now,” National Public Radio
“Part trivia almanac and part detailed history, On the Grid explores the workings of the infrastructural systems around us as well as any book on the subject I've read, making the hidden material foundations of our society visible and immediate. … For anyone interested in infrastructure issues, On the Grid is an instant classic, already indispensible.”
-- Independent Weekly