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Vaclav Smil, General Energetics: Energy in the Biosphere and Civilization (New York: Wiley, 1991)

Vaclav Smil begins his discussion of General Energetics with an epigraph from William Blake's The Marriage of Heaven and Hell:

"Energy is the only life and is from the Body; and Reason is the bound or outbound circumference of Energy. Energy is Eternal Delight."

The allure of energy for Smil is its unifying, underlying, omnipresent, multifaceted, indeed transcendental nature. For millennia, this nature has inspired feelings of awe and reverence connected with fire, light, heat, growth, and motion, and in the last two centuries in intense scientific and engineering efforts to unlock the fundamental laws of nature and improve civilization's mastery of energy flows. Although this has produced and expansive literature on many aspects of energetics, it has been limited to thermodynamics and bioenergetics leaving aside any comprehensive treatment of energetics on the organismic and systemic level.

Smil's "yin-yang book" attempts to study the variety of energy flows governing the Earth's grandly unified physical make-up, life forms, and its civilizations.

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