Abrahm Lustgarten


On the Move: The Overheating Earth and the Uprooting of America

On the Move explains how we got here and where we’re headed. It’s crucial guide to the world we are creating.” ―Elizabeth Kolbert, author of Under a White Sky and The Sixth Extinction

A vivid, journalistic account of how climate change will reshape American life.

Humanity is on the precipice of a great climate migration, and Americans will not be spared. Tens of millions of people are likely to be driven from the places they call home. Poorer communities will be left behind, while growth will surge in the cities and regions most attractive to climate refugees. America will be changed utterly.

Abrahm Lustgarten’s On the Move is the definitive account of what this massive population shift might look like. As he shows, the United States will be rendered unrecognizable by four unstoppable forces: wildfires in the West; frequent flooding in coastal regions; extreme heat and humidity in the South; and droughts that will make farming all but impossible across much of the nation.

Reporting from the front lines of climate migration, Lustgarten explains how a pattern of shortsighted policies encouraged millions to settle in vulnerable parts of the country, and introduces us to homeowners in California, insurance customers in Florida, and ranchers in Colorado who are being forced to make the agonizing choice of when, not whether, to leave. Employing the most current climate data and predictive models, he shows how America’s population will be squeezed northward into a shrinking triangle of land stretching from Tennessee to Maine to the Great Lakes. The places many of us now call home are at risk, and On the Move reveals how we’ll deal with the consequences.

 “On the Move explains how we got here and where we’re headed. It’s a crucial guide to the world we are creating.” —Elizabeth Kolbert, author of Under a White Sky and The Sixth Extinction

[A] fascinating new look at the population changes wrought by climate crisis . . . astonishing as well as gripping” The New York Times Book Review

“An urgent examination of how the U.S. will be affected by migrations driven by global warming . .. [with] poignant portraits . . . Readers will be unnerved.” – Publishers Weekly

“On the Move is an unflinching guidebook to our near future, aggressively reported, rigorously quantified, as terrifying as it is revelatory. Duluth, here we come.” —Nathaniel Rich, author of Second Nature and Losing Earth

“Lustgarten grapples with some of the most important questions of our time: As climate impacts accelerate, who will benefit? Who will lose? Think of it as a guidebook to the coming chaos of life in a rapidly warming world.” —Jeff Goodell, New York Times–bestselling author of The Heat Will Kill You First

“Traveling the nation, Lustgarten interviews experts and victims to paint a grim but fact-based picture . . . Lustgarten … adds that aggressive action can still mitigate the damage and even revive neglected regions such as the Rust Belt.” – Kirkus Reviews

Run To Failure: BP And the Making of the Deepwater Horizon Disaster

Two decades ago, British Petroleum, a venerable and storied corporation, was running out of oil reserves. Along came a new CEO of vision and vast ambition, John Browne, who pulled off one of the greatest corporate turnarounds in history.

BP bought one company after another and then relentlessly fired employees and cut costs. It skipped safety procedures, pumped toxic chemicals back into the ground, and let equipment languish, even while Browne claimed a new era of environmentally sustainable business as his own. For a while the strategy worked, making BP one of the most profitable corporations in the world. Then it all began to unravel, in felony convictions for environmental crimes and in one deadly accident after another. Employees and regulators warned that BP’s problems, unfixed, were spinning out of control, that another disaster―bigger and deadlier―was inevitable. Nobody was listening.

Having reported on business and the energy industry for nearly a decade, Abrahm Lustgarten uses interviews with key executives, former government investigators, and whistle-blowers along with his exclusive access to BP’s internal documents and emails to weave a spellbinding investigative narrative of hubris and greed well before the gulf oil spill.

“Refreshingly different… Run to Failure reads like a thriller, com­plete with whistle-blowers and double agents… Lustgarten paints a picture of neglect, hollow proclamations about safety and environmental stewardship, and draco­nian cost-trimming going back two decades.”
Nature, March 8, 2012

A “scathing expose.”
Reuters, March 12, 2012

“This often breathless account is a wakeup call, and affords a timely consideration of the nature of international business and its relationship to government.”
Publisher’s Weekly  
“A gripping account of a catastrophe foretold, Run to Failure explains not just why the spill happened, but why it didn’t have to. It should be required reading in boardrooms across America.”
Elizabeth Kolbert

China’s Great Train: Beijing's Drive West and the Campaign to Remake Tibet

A vivid account of China’s unstoppable quest to build a railway into Tibet, and its obsession to transform its land and its people

In the summer of 2006, the Chinese government fulfilled a fifty-year plan to build a railway into Tibet. Since Mao Zedong first envisioned it, the line had grown into an imperative, a critical component of China’s breakneck expansion and the final maneuver in strengthening China’s grip over this remote and often mystical frontier, which promised rich resources and geographic supremacy over South Asia.

Through the lives of the Chinese and Tibetans swept up in the project, Fortune magazine writer Abrahm Lustgarten explores the “Wild West” atmosphere of the Chinese economy today. He follows innovative Chinese engineer Zhang Luxin as he makes the train’s route over the treacherous mountains and permafrost possible (for now), and the tenacious Tibetan shopkeeper Rinzen, who struggles to hold on to his business in a boomtown that increasingly favors the Han Chinese. As the railway—the highest and steepest in the world—extends to Lhasa, and China’s “Go West” campaign delivers waves of rural poor eager to make their fortunes, their lives and communities fundamentally change, sometimes for good, sometimes not.

Lustgarten’s book is a timely, provocative, and absorbing first-hand account of the Chinese boom and the promise and costs of rapid development on the country’s people.

“I can’t think of any story that better captures the exhilaration and the agony of our pell-mell globalization. China’s Great Train is a powerful piece of reporting and of reflection, and it never edges away from the tough questions.”
Bill McKibben, author of Deep Economy

“Lustgarten has pulled off something quite extraordinary: by shining a finely-pointed and intimate light on a handful of people directly affected by one of the modern era’s greatest engineering feats—or follies—he has rendered a far broader portrait of what happens when two great cultures come into collision. In the process, he not only explores the age-old question of what price progress, but the far more essential question of just how progress might be defined. A must read for anyone who seeks to understand the colossal changes taking place in today’s China.”
Scott Anderson, author of Moonlight Hotel and The Man Who Tried to Save the World

“China’s Great Train is a wonderful account of a project that combined technological ambition, nationalistic and ethnic hubris, and individual determination, cunning, and vision. It is a saga in the spirit of David McCullough’s accounts of the building of the Brooklyn Bridge and the Panama Canal —but about a project happening right now. Its implications aren’t all positive—about China, Tibet, or the process of modernization—but Abrahm Lustgarten does an admirable job of leading the reader to surprising understandings of all those topics.”
James Fallows, author of Blind Into Baghdad and Looking at the Sun

“Lustgarten lifts the rug off the grand national project of the Qinghai-Tibet Railway. His compelling descriptions of bureaucratic struggles and bitter human costs are contrasted with the great Chinese national pride and the heroism of those who tried to solve the problems to make the train work. This is an insider’s view and an important contribution to understanding the enigmas of China.”
James R. Lilley, author of China Hands and former U.S. ambassador to the People’s Republic of China

The Climate Book
(contributing author)


We still have time to change the world. From climate activist Greta Thunberg, comes the essential handbook for making it happen.

You might think it’s an impossible task: secure a safe future for life on Earth, at a scale and speed never seen, against all the odds. There is hope—but only if we listen to the science before it’s too late.

In The Climate Book, Greta Thunberg has gathered the wisdom of over one hundred experts—geophysicists, oceanographers and meteorologists; engineers, economists and mathematicians; historians, philosophers and Indigenous leaders—to equip us all with the knowledge we need to combat climate disaster. Throughout, illuminating and often shocking grayscale charts, graphs, diagrams, photographs, and illustrations underscore their research and their arguments. Alongside them, she shares her own stories of demonstrating and uncovering greenwashing around the world, revealing how much we have been kept in the dark. This is one of our biggest challenges, she shows, but also our greatest source of hope. Once we are given the full picture, how can we not act? And if a schoolchild’s strike could ignite a global protest, what could we do collectively if we tried?

We are alive at the most decisive time in the history of humanity. Together, we can do the seemingly impossible. But it has to be us, and it has to be now.

“A remarkable contribution to climate literature—and an urgent must-read.” 
Los Angeles Review of Books

“Having curated Yale Climate Connections’ monthly bookshelf collection since early 2015, I was acquainted with over 1,000 books and reports that address climate change in some way . . . The Climate Book is the most ambitious, wide-ranging, and hard-hitting collection I have ever encountered.” 
Yale Climate Connections

“The urgency to act now, to kick the addiction to fossil fuels, practically jumps off the page to punch you in the gut. So while not a pleasant read—it’s quite stressful—it’s a book I can’t recommend enough.” 
Science News
“Stuffed with charts and graphs and photos . . . the book is sure to educate. . . . Hopefully billions of people read The Climate Book and enough of them rise up to demand change.” 
Associated Press

“Impressively, in The Climate Book, Thunberg and team—which includes well-known names like Margaret Atwood, George Monbiot, Bill McKibben and Robin Wall Kimmerer—explain and offer action items in 84 compelling, bite-size chapters . . . The cumulative impact on my understanding of the crisis through [the book’s] data, cross-cultural reflections, and paths for step-by-step change became mesmerizing.” 

“Impassioned . . . Thunberg gathers essays from scientists, journalists, and activists, starting with lucid and accessible explanations of the science of global warming and its possible effects . . . A comprehensive and articulate shock to the system.” 
Publishers Weekly

“An urgent collection of writing by leaders in the fields of science, engineering, history, philosophy, and activism . . . Brilliant and alarming . . . Vital reading for anyone who cares about the planet.”
Kirkus (starred review)

“[A] sweeping compendium of essays contributed by more than 100 academicians, authors, environmentalists, and journalists whose specific professional expertise or profound humanitarian concern amplifies the existing science surrounding this crisis of sustainability and ecology. Yet among this esteemed roster of recognized voices, it is Thunberg’s own eloquence that elevates the collection with introductory essays for each section that convey a sense of urgency that is genuine, grounded, and unimpeachable.” 
 (starred review)