Reviews of Power Shift

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I would like to recommend this book! Power Shift is written in deceptively clear language. What’s the deception involved in the “clarity” of Stayton’s presentation? Like truly clear water in a lake, you can stare into the depths and not realize, because the water is so clear, how deep those waters really are. In other words, although this book is easy to understand, and is written in clear and simple language, and even though this book is the opposite of pretentious, Stayton’s message is profound.

Gary Patton, Environmental Lawyer, former Santa Cruz County Supervisor. For the complete review, see Two Worlds blog

Power Shift: From Fossil Energy to Dynamic Solar Power by Robert Arthur Stayton is an extremely useful and well-written book. Although solar energy has been around for a while, Power Shift truly makes a great case for why it is the solution of the future, along with great practical ideas on ways in which to harness it. I liked the detailed diagrams and descriptions of how to put solar power to use in the form of solar panels, etc. The writing is clear, to-the-point, and it is obvious that Robert Stayton knows what he is talking about and is extremely knowledgeable in his field. All in all, a great, useful read for everyone as we move forward towards new, renewable, clean energy sources.

Solar is surging all of a sudden, and if you read this comprehensive
book you’ll understand why!

BILL McKIBBEN, author Eaarth

Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, “Power Shift” by Robert Arthur Stayton (who has a masters degree in physics and has taught college courses in physics, energy, and solar energy at the University of California Santa Cruz and Cabrillo College, as well as actively participating in community energy activities) is very highly recommended for both community and academic library collections. It is especially commended to the attention of non-specialist general readers with an interest in alternative energy issues and the inevitable transition form petroleum based energy to non-fossil fuel resources. it should be noted for personal reading lists that “Power Shift” is also available in a Kindle edition ($15.99)


Fifteen years in the making, Stayton’s book delivers an excellent primer on how to shift from fossil fuel to solar power. It will do for the energy chain what The Omnivore’s Dilemma did for the food chain and much more. Stayton’s book is a forty-five–year blueprint for total solar dependence. This physicist and teacher begins at the dawn of man and rolls smoothly through the history of how we became energy-consuming animals and adapted well to each energy shift, from fire to water, coal, steam, and oil. Eloquently, Stayton persuades that our current swing from fossil fuel to solar power can also remain gradual and non-traumatic. RECOMMENDED by the US Review.

US REVIEW OF BOOKS excerpt. For the complete review, see
Featured in Kirkus Reviews magazine, April 15, 2015

In this bright treatise, Stayton outlines how humanity might transition from finite, carbon-dioxide–emitting fossil fuels to permanent, pollution-free solar power by the end of this century. … He expertly blends scientific research, historical context, personal experience, and visionary thinking in this book and relates it all in plain language. He has a gift for demystifying things, from horsepower and steam engines to gigawatts and thorium reactors. … An energy book that’s a pleasure to read and sure to win new solar converts.

KIRKUS REVIEW excerpt. For the complete review, see

The substantial trade paperback Power Shift is a scholarly volume complete with a twenty-six-page notes and references section. Robert Stayton’s writing, however, is so good that most readers will have no difficulty understanding the many concepts he discusses throughout the text. Excellent illustrations explain difficult concepts in a simplified way (such as how nuclear energy works); charts, graphs, and tables give further clarifications. This volume would be particularly useful in public school and university library collections, as well as for those working on the subject of future energy.

PORTLAND BOOK REVIEW excerpt. For the complete review, see

This hefty, oversized paperback provides a comprehensive blueprint for a solar-powered future where mankind moves away from fossil fuels and concentrates on renewable energy sources. The energy literacy of readers is bound to increase in large measures. The author provides a well-detailed history of energy, including how mankind went from a wood energy epoch to the fossil fuel epoch. The historical information is both fascinating as well as instructive. Clean coal, nuclear energy, and modern energy demands by consumers and industry are discussed. An abundance of illustrations–including sun ovens and solar collection devices-embellish the text. Advocacy of solar use, and the advent of a solar epoch, is extolled with a breakdown of solar’s efficiency, costs, storage, etc. Uses for solar energy are suggested for homes, cars, and business/industry. The author makes a strong case for the need to shift to different power sources, while enumerating what has held us back from making informed energy decisions, and what needs to be done now. The writing, while covering technical material, is written in a manner that can be clearly understood by laymen. Several outliers add interesting asides. A glossary of terminology in this field would still be a useful appendix. The title/subtitle and cover design are effective in drawing interest and clearly indicating the book’s contents.

Judge, 23rd Annual Writer’s Digest Self-Published Book Awards

Stayton lays out arguments for a complete conversion to solar-based power sources
in this primer on energy. … Stayton clearly enumerates the downsides of fossil
fuel use, positioning global warming as a major problem alongside less-discussed
global issues such as ocean acidification, military conflict, and rising food prices.
Most of this work is devoted to well-reasoned economic and technical arguments for
the inevitability of the replacement of fossil fuels by photovoltaic (PV) and
other solar energy sources. … Stayton’s claim that the switch to solar power
“will be the last energy transition that humans need to undertake” may be over-ambitious,
but the material is worth serious consideration.

PUBLISHERS WEEKLY excerpt. For the complete review, see

This new book is visionary and brilliant (while also very fun
and interesting). If you are looking for some reality that’s
encouraging and enlightening, here it is!

JOE JORDAN, NASA Researcher, Solar Educator

Solar electricity is the ultimate disruptive technology. By establishing small beachheads in myriad applications, the solar industry has maintained a growth rate of 46 percent per year for the last decade. As prices continue to fall and efficiencies increase, solar power now poised to begin to fundamentally transform society. Power Shift offers a lucid, convincing explanation of how solar power can become the dominant energy source for the world.

DENIS HAYES, Organizer of the first Earth Day and co-author of Cowed: The Hidden Impact of 93 Million Cows on America’s Health, Economy, Politics, Culture, and Environment

With lucid, crystalline prose, Bob Stayton explains how western society became addicted to fossil fuels over the past two centuries and prescribes an antidote — solar power. He writes from direct experience, having converted his Santa Cruz home and automobile almost completely to photovoltaics. I especially enjoyed the many clear, illustrative drawings that complement his narrative. “Power Shift” is a book I can heartily recommend to the many folks concerned today about the impact of modern lifestyles on our warming planet. It gives us hope that we can find solutions without having to return to huts or horse-drawn carriages.

MICHAEL RIORDAN, coauthor of the solar-heating bestseller The Solar Home Book

The great work for present and foreseeable generations is the
hard transition from industrial civilization to ecological
civilization-—and it‘s all about energy. Given Stayton’s compelling and
reader-friendly narrative, that would be reason enough to praise Power
Shift. But there is so much more; namely understanding ourselves, our
story, and civilization itself as defined by energy. While good energy
policy is critical, even it now depends on this kind of collective
self-understanding and sweeping insight. I cannot recommend this volume
strongly enough as our guide to a durable future.

LARRY RASMUSSEN, Reinhold Niebuhr Professor Emeritus of Social Ethics, Union Theological Seminary, New York City. Author of Earth-Honoring Faith: Religious Ethics in a New Key (Oxford University Press)

California has ambitious goals for moving from fossil fuels to renewable energy,
goals that can only be met by understanding our relationship to
the energy we use and the steps we must take to get to live by renewable energy.
Robert Stayton’s book lays this out in an understandable framework – and points
the way to a clean energy future.

JOHN LAIRD, California Secretary of Natural Resources

Robert Arthur Stayton’s Power Shift is a bright light
that will expand your view on the energy journey we are all
on. Written in an easily comprehensible way Stayton takes us
from our quest for fire to understanding each form of energy
with predictability and accountability. In the process he
dispels nuclear myth with nuclear truth and offers a bold
vision for harnessing the energy that has always been in the
sky above us. Laying out a map with the steps we need to make
the transition from renewable to permanent, he presents solar
energy in a new way. One is not surprised our sun is key, only

JOHN FRANCIS, PhD., Environmentalist, Author Planet Walker

Robert Stayton does for energy what Michael Pollan did for food.
You get the history, the science, the compelling reasons we need to go solar
in a book that both interests and inspires.

MARGARET PAYNE, Educator; Advisor, “Green Living , Environment and Sustainability,” Nautilus Book Awards

Overall, fantastic! Clear, understandable to the general public,
authoritative, free of jargon, and not preachy.
I think you hit the nail on the head.

DR. DOUGLAS BROWN: Physics Instructor Emeritus, Cabrillo College, California

Power Shift shines a brilliant light on the
current energy crisis facing our planet, offering choices forward
to shift into a positive future by tapping into the unlimited,
sustainable energy of the sun.

SANDORA HEDRICH, Advisor, “Green Living , Environment and Sustainability,” Nautilus Book Awards

Power Shift describes in detail why and how the shift to
solar power as our dominant energy source will happen in the US and
the world. But it also describes how the relationship between
human civilization and energy has evolved, from our original
use of fire to our current time-limited reliance on fossil fuels.
Stayton avoids technical jargon but ably shows how to assess
and compare quantitatively, our past, current and possible
future energy sources. This way, he moves readers well beyond
the partisan bickering and dithering that has effectively
stalled the national discourse on our energy future.
Bravo! Please read this well written, informative and timely book.

DOUG McKENZIE, solar analyst, educator, and founder of Lights On Solar

Power Shift provides a thorough review of the
history of energy and a compelling vision for the use of
solar photovoltaics to power humankind. This would be
a good book for engineering, physics, and
science students in college and university, to complement
their other equation-oriented texts.

MIKE ARENSON, President of Arenson Solar

Verdict: A suitable offering on the benefits of solar power.

School Library Journal