Everyone knew it was crazy to try to extract oil and natural gas buried in shale rock deep below the ground. Everyone, that is, except a few reckless wildcatters - who risked their careers to prove the world wrong.
Things looked grim for American energy in 2006. Oil production was in steep decline and natural gas was hard to find. The Iraq War threatened the nation's already tenuous relations with the Middle East. China was rapidly industrializing and competing for resources. Major oil companies had just about given up on new discoveries on U.S. soil, and a new energy crisis seemed likely.
But a handful of men believed everything was about to change.
Far from the limelight, Aubrey McClendon, Harold Hamm, Mark Papa, and other wildcatters were determined to tap massive deposits of oil and gas that Exxon, Chevron, and other giants had dismissed as a waste of time. By experimenting with hydraulic fracturing through extremely dense shale a process now known as fracking the wildcatters'started a revolution. In just a few years, they solved America's dependence on imported energy, triggered a global environmental controversy and made and lost astonishing fortunes.
No one understands these men their ambitions, personalities, methods, and foibles better than the award-winning Wall Street Journal reporter Gregory Zuckerman. His exclusive access enabled him to get close to the frackers and chronicle the untold story of how they transformed the nation and the world. The result is a dramatic narrative tracking a brutal competition among headstrong drillers. It stretches from the barren fields of North Dakota and the rolling hills of northeastern Pennsylvania to cluttered pickup trucks in Texas and tense Wall Street boardrooms.
Activists argue that the same methods that are creating so much new energy are also harming our water supply and threatening environmental chaos. The Frackers tells the story of the angry opposition unleashed by this revolution and explores just how dangerous fracking really is.
The frackers have already transformed the economic, environmental, and geopolitical course of history. Now, like the Rockefellers and the Gettys before them, they're using their wealth and power to influence politics, education, entertainment, sports, and many other fields. Their story is one of the most important of our time.
GEORGE MITCHELL, the son of a Greek goatherd, who tried to tap rock that experts deemed worthless but faced an unexpected obstacle in his quest to change history.
AUBREY McCLENDON, the charismatic scion of an Oklahoma energy family, who scored billions leading a historic land grab. He wasn't prepared for the shocking fallout of his discoveries.
TOM WARD, who overcame a troubled childhood to become one of the nation's wealthiest men. He could handle natural-gas fields but had more trouble with a Wall Street power broker.
HAROLD HAMM, the son of poor sharecroppers, who believed America had more oil than anyone imagined. Hamm was determined to find the crude before others caught on.
CHARIF SOUKI, the dashing Lebanese immigrant who saw his career crumble and his fortune disintegrate, leaving one last, unlikely chance for success.
MARK PAPA, the Enron castoff who panicked when he realized a resurgence of American natural gas was at hand, one that his company wasn't prepared for.
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Gregory Zuckerman is a Special Writer at The Wall Street Journal and a three-time winner of the Gerald Loeb award — the highest honor in business journalism.
Greg is the author of “The Frackers: The Outrageous Inside Story of the New Billionaire Wildcatters,” a national bestseller published October 2014 by Portfolio/Penguin Press. The book describes how a few unlikely individuals created an American energy resurgence that brought OPEC to its knees. The Frackers was named among the best books of 2014 by The Financial Times and Forbes Magazine and the New York Financial Writers Association.
Greg also wrote “The Greatest Trade Ever: The Behind-the-Scenes Story of How John Paulson Defied Wall Street and Made Financial History,” a New York Times and Wall Street Journal best seller published December 2010 by Crown Business/Random House. The book has been translated into 10 languages.
In May 2016, Greg and his two sons published Rising Above: How 11 Athletes Overcame Challenges in their Youth to Become Stars,” a book for young readers and adults that describes the moving and remarkable stories of how various stars overcame imposing setbacks in their youth. The book was chosen by Scholastic Teacher magazine as a top recommendation for 2016.
At the Journal, Greg writes about big financial firms, personalities and trades, hedge funds, the energy revolution and other investing and business topics. Previously, Greg was the lead writer of the widely read “Heard on the Street” column and covered the credit markets, among other beats.
In 2015, Greg won the Loeb Award for a series of stories revealing discord between Bill Gross, founder of bond powerhouse Pimco, and others at the firm, including Mohamed El-Erian. The stories led to Mr. Gross’s surprise departure from Pimco. In 2012, Greg broke news about huge, disastrous trades by the J.P. Morgan trader nicknamed the “London Whale.”
In 2007, Greg was part of a team that won the Gerald Loeb award for breaking news coverage of the collapse of hedge fund Amaranth Advisors and in 2003 he won the Loeb award for breaking news coverage of the demise of telecom provider WorldCom. Greg was part of a team that won the New York Press Club Journalism award in 2008. He was a finalist for the 2011 Gerald Loeb award for investigative news coverage of the insider trading scandal and a finalist for the 2008 Gerald Loeb award, for coverage of the mortgage meltdown.
Greg appears regularly on CNBC, Fox Business, Yahoo Finance, Bloomberg Television and various television networks. He makes regular appearances on National Public Radio, BBC, ABC Radio, Bloomberg Radio and radio stations around the globe.
Greg gives speeches to business groups on a variety of topics. Over the past year, he has spoken to groups in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Houston, Dallas, Las Vegas, Scottsdale, Calgary, Montreal and Niagara Falls.
Greg joined the Journal in 1996 after writing about media companies for the New York Post. Previously, he was the managing editor of Mergers & Acquisitions Report, a newsletter published by Investment Dealers’ Digest. He graduated from Brandeis University in 1988, Magna Cum Laude.
A graduate of Brandeis University, Greg lives with his wife and two sons in West Orange, N.J., where they enjoy the Yankees in the summer, root for the Giants in the fall, and reminisce about Linsanity in the winter.