Book review: Oil and Honey – Bill McKibben (non-fiction, ***)

Bill McKibben describes himself as an ‘accidental activist’ and, indeed, in Oil and Honey, it’s clear that his first passion lies in writing. Charting a year in the life of McKibben and his anti-oil movement 350.org, Honey is simply beautifully written.

The resulting memoir-cum-treatise may lack structure as a book, but every argument, every explanation, every triumph and setback that it contains is powerfully, even artfully expressed. And, gosh, you’ll almost feel like you’re there with McKibben as he strolls through the countryside of Vermont.

I have to wonder, however, if even McKibben began to doubt the viability of Honey’s structure as he was writing the book. Despite its memorable title and arresting cover image, the book’s twin themes – of 350.org’s protest against the Keystone XL pipeline on the one hand, and McKibben as a patron of traditional bee-keeping on the other – sit uneasily side by side.

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