In Amity and Prosperity: One Family and the Fracturing of America, poet and journalist Eliza Griswold chronicles the impact on landowners in western Pennsylvania when the hydraulic fracturing (fracking) industry comes calling with deep pockets and false reassurances. It is both an intimate portrayal of one family's protracted struggle with gas and chemical contamination and also a frank rendering of the collateral devastation often wrought by companies bent on extracting natural gas from the land.
Amity and Prosperity is centered on Stacey Haney, a nurse and landowner. Her property is contaminated by a leak at the large fracking site up the hill from her farm. Haney gets sick, along with her children and animals, and is forced to abandon her beloved farm. Therein begins her protracted six-year fight for justice and for her family's health and security. Griswold (The Tenth Parallel) reminds us that Haney and her community represent the human cost of energy development and that exploiting energy often involves exploiting people as well as the environment.
It is a testament to Griswold's gift for the written word that an account of the perils of fracking is transformed into a gripping legal drama, pitting farmers and their small tight-knit community against one another and against the powerful forces jeopardizing their land and their families' physical and mental health. Griswold boldly takes the fracking industry to task, as well as the government agencies that fail in their civic mandate to protect the environment and the rights of landowners like Haney and her neighbors. --Shahina Piyarali, writer and reviewer