PRC News & Reviews

Dust jacket description for The People’s Republic of Chemicals

Maverick environmental writers William J. Kelly and Chip Jacobs follow up their acclaimed Smogtown with a provocative examination of China’s ecological calamity already imperling a warming planet. Toxic smog most people figured was obsolete needlessly kills as many there as the 9/11 attacks every day, while sometimes Grand Canyon-sized drifts of industrial particles aloft on the winds rain down ozone and waterway-poisoning mercury in America. In vivid, gonzo prose blending first-person reportage with exhaustive research and a sense of karma, Kelly and Jacobs describe China’s ancient love affair with coal, Bill Clinton’s blunders cutting free-trade deals enabling the U.S. to “export” manufacturing emissions to Asia in a shift that pilloried the West’s middle class, Communist Party manipulation of eco-statistics, the horror of “Cancer Villages,” the deception of the 2008 Beijing Olympics and spellbinding “peasant revolts” against cancer-spreading plants involving thousands in mostly censored melees. Ending with China’s monumental coal-bases decried by climatologists as a global warming dagger, The People’s Republic of Chemicals names names and stresses humans over bloodless numbers in a classic sure to ruffle feathers as an indictment of money as the real green that not even Al Gore can deny.


Praise for Smogtown: the Lung-Burning History of Pollution in Los Angeles (The Overlook Press/Penguin Group U.S.A. – 2008)

“… Remarkably entertaining and informative … This book is just amazing, a gripping story well told …” Booklist starred review. 

 – ” … Historical heft … style delivers substance in true Hollywood fashion, with character-driven plots draped in glamour and sensation … the history of smog has been so sexy …” Los Angeles Times.

 – “… In this tale of underhanded deals, gritty politics, community organizing and burgeoning environmentalism, the corruption is plentiful and the subplots replete with intrigue … the authors offer a zany and provocative cultural history.” Kirkus

 – “… Finished with a particularly powerful, forward-looking epilogue, this friendly, accessible history should appeal to any American environmentalist …” Publishers Weekly

 – ” … A meticulous chronicle of the city’s signature airborne grime and the civic and social forces that emerged to stop it …” Bookforum

 – “… The narrative that emerges is more than a tale of a region and a populace besieged by smog; it is also a parable for a nation beset by environmental and social problems. Among the pleasures of this well-researched cultural history is revisiting the past …” Slate

 – “… Well-documented, highly engaging and widely relevant … Smogtown is not your typical “green’s” diatribe against big business and weak government. No, Jacobs and Kelly are much smarter and fairer than that …” Sustainablog

 – Named one of the top 10 environmental books of the year by Booklist; silver medalist, Independent Publishers Book Awards and Green Book Festival, recipient of the Green Prize for Sustainable Literature. Featured in the New York Times, Author@Google, C-SPAN and elsewhere. Sacramento Bee bestseller.