The End of Country
Dispatches from the Frack Zone
By Seamus Mcgraw
(Random House, Hardcover, 9781400068531, 256pp.)
Publication Date: June 28, 2011
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The End of Country is the compelling story about the epic battle for control of one of the richest natural gas deposits the world has ever known: the Marcellus Shale, worth more than one trillion dollars. In a remote northeastern corner of Pennsylvania, an intense conflict begins, pitting the forces of corporate America against a community of stoic, low-income homesteaders, determined to acquire their fair share of the windfall—but not at the cost of their values or their way of life. Though the natural gas is extracted through a controversial process known as hydrofracking, many couldn’t resist the offer to lease their land in exchange for the promise of untold riches.
For years, this part of the world was invisible to all but the farmers, urban transplants, and small landholders who called it home. But journalist Seamus McGraw, a native of the region whose own mother was one of the first to receive a leasing offer, opens a window on a stiff-necked group of Pennsylvanians as they try, with little guidance or protection from the state or anyone else, to balance the promise and the peril of this discovery. Along the way, McGraw introduces us to a host of colorful characters, from a gas company land agent with a Green Beret to a wizened quarryman with an old coonhound, a .22 rifle, and an unerring sense of right and wrong who leads a personal crusade to police the gas company’s operations.
The cutthroat dash by petrodollar billionaires to secure drilling leases will make some poor residents rich, and put the entire community at risk of having its land tainted by toxic chemicals and its water supply contaminated by gas. Above all, it will test the character of everyone in the community as they fight against “the end of country.”
Rich with a sense of place and populated by unforgettable personalities, The End of Country is a tale of greed, hubris, and envy, but also of hope and family—and the land that binds them all together.
Seamus McGraw is a full-time writer who has seen his work published in Playboy, Reader’s Digest, Penthouse, Radar, Spin, and The Forward. He has received the Freedom of Information Award from the Associated Press Managing Editors, as well as honors from the Casey Foundation and the Society of Professional Journalists. McGraw is currently working on a documentary trailer about his family’s experiences with the Marcellus shale. He grew up pitching hay and spreading manure on the same fields the gas companies are now prospecting. He still lives in the woods of northeastern Pennsylvania with his wife and four children.