First of all, let me preface this review with the warning that I may work too close to the subjects of this book to be very objective in my review of it. I wanted to like this book, but I don't. My reading of it was full of moments where I was filled with "Yes, but really..." or "Not really, it's more like..." moments. Worse, there were a few "I don't think that necessarily follows" issues I had with the logic of the book. There are at least a couple of chapters that if I had the inclination I could write some decent rebuttals to.
The early section of the book is about building a giant analogy between the era we live in now and the last turn of the century when mass electrification basically changed everything. It might be a good analogy and these early parts of the book are interesting for their simple documentary-like focus on "the world that was" in the analogy. Unfortunately the analogy mostly gives out and takes a back seat in the latter section, which ends up being the majority of the book, which is mainly a pedestrian enumeration of the potential downfalls and dangerous repercussions of "the world that is" that might be amplified in moving into "the world that will be". It was fairly jarring how the book moved from the tone of an interesting history documentary/exploration to a collection of bad 60 Minutes segments that lack in any real substance and barely notice the surface texture of the things being discussed. What's worse is that the book never really follows through with the initial premise offered in the early chapters. That failure to maintain the narrative over the course of the book, to keep the analogy core and center to the work, just about seems unforgivable and really keeps this book, in my mind, from being very useful at anything it sets out to be. It's certainly not very useful to describing the analogy, in that the analogy is mere premise rather than binding narrative.
If anything the book is probably most useful as a curio. It exists in that small plane between history and observation that can make bad 50s science fiction so ironically hip in its old age. This book might best be savored in 20-30 years when we might scoff at it or laugh at it. Beyond my recommendation to read this book sometime in the future, I can't find too many other people that I, as a somewhat knowledgeable person in the areas of this book, might recommend this book to... certainly not to anyone of my own generation. There might be a potential in it to explain some things to my parents' or my grandparents' generations, but I'm afraid the book would give them too many misconceptions and thus I might only really recommend a chapter or two rather than the entire book.