“It turns out that the story of asphalt is closely linked to the story of modernity—the smooth ride of our cars across the pavement ties into everything from the climate crisis to the racism inherent in tearing up our central cities for highways. A fascinating story that will reshape your sense of what binds the world together.”—Bill McKibben, author of Falter: Has the Human Game Begun to Play Itself Out?
“Kenneth O’Reilly’s wide-ranging story of seduction and threat is rich in iridescent detail and full of surprising twists.”—Graeme Wynn, past president of the American Society for Environmental History
“Full of forceful characters from Nebuchadnezzar to the Koch brothers and ranging from the Dead Sea’s asphalt seeps to Alberta’s oil sands, this carefully researched book tells the story of one of the key substances shaping our world.”—J. R. McNeill, past president of the American Historical Association
“Both a blessing and a curse, the progenitor of peace and the facilitator of violence, asphalt must be considered central to our understanding of modern history, and Kenneth O’Reilly convincingly explains why.”—Darren Dochuk, author of Anointed with Oil: How Christianity and Crude Made Modern America
“As the best histories do, Asphalt uses the past to change our view of the present and, hopefully, the possibilities for our future. Read this book, step outside, and see our world anew.”—Paul Bogard, author of The Ground Beneath Us
“O’Reilly chronicles how asphalt enabled suburbanization and urban decay, segregation, warfare, and environmental degradation. Brimming with a range of colorful characters, Asphalt takes us to the far corners of the world, in the process providing a fresh perspective on some of the central themes of modern global history.”—Sven Beckert, author of Empire of Cotton: A Global History