McClendon was smart, shrewd, visionary, and dogged—and he had trouble following rules. On occasion, when a gamble on a new gas field worked out, that helped him. But just as often, it hurt. His contrarian push into shale drilling revolutionized the global energy business and made him a billionaire. His disdain for convention attracted regulatory scrutiny, angered shareholders, and cost him his job running the company he built.
A quixotic historian tries to hold oil and gas companies responsible for Louisiana’s disappearing coast. Each day, the state loses nearly the accumulated acreage of every football stadium in the N.F.L. Were this rate of land loss applied to New York, Central Park would disappear in a month. Manhattan would vanish within a year and a half.