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24 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This book is a fascinating thriller!
All summer long I saw stories about gas prices and automobile troubles on a daily basis in the newspapers and on television. This left me troubled and frustrated about the problem that lied ahead for my generation. After reading Internal Combustion, this issue suddenly made sense. From a historical context, the events that led us up to our current chaos were deeply...
Published on September 15, 2006

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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Well-researched, but ultimately unconvincing
When I read Internal Combustion, I was impressed. Lots of facts. Lots of stories. It's a good read. Normally, that would be enough for me to really enjoy a book.

But Edwin Black promises more than just a good read. He promises to tell us how corporations and governments addicted the world to oil and derailed the alternatives. That he does not do.

He...
Published on September 18, 2006 by Edward Durney


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24 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This book is a fascinating thriller!, September 15, 2006
A Kid's Review
All summer long I saw stories about gas prices and automobile troubles on a daily basis in the newspapers and on television. This left me troubled and frustrated about the problem that lied ahead for my generation. After reading Internal Combustion, this issue suddenly made sense. From a historical context, the events that led us up to our current chaos were deeply illustrated and it felt like I was a part of the story. Never before have I read such a thoroughly researched, intimately developed and page-turning thriller. I recommend this book to anyone to better understand the complex world that we live in, grasp the dynamics of this debate and grab the key's to our own future. This book has helped me do all of that and I am thankful to Edwin black for writing the story of our time. I promise you won't regret buying it for yourself!
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21 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars THE Energy Book Of Our Times, September 24, 2006
A while back an old sage once answered an economical question I had with this, "An economy based on WASTE". But he said it with a disgust I never quite understood. UNTIL NOW. And it is in book form, written by a very skilled writer, Edwin Black (eight Pulitzers and two National Book Award Nominations). Researched to an nth'degree, 19 pages of acknowledgements!. Many, many fascinating tidbits such as the word car that started out as horseless carraige to carraige to car for short. Or the red flag laws where a man had to run ahead of the car waving a red flag & blowing a horn to warn all in the cars path. It loaded with interesting stories and facts you've never heard of. The story about GM destroying the mass electric transit/cars in the U.S.- is alone worth the price. Very well written and informative, as in: "A century of lies about internal combustion arising from a millennium of monopolistic misconduct in energy has wounded the world's collective health, fractured a fragile enviroment, and ignighted a deadly petropolitical war that has become nothing less than a cataclysmic clash of civilizations." Or,"Internal combustion kills. Few of us realize that as we drive to non-smoking restaurants, everyone around us is inhaling gases as deadly as that in any cigarette". Or, "The implication was that in the thirties and forties, at a time when GM was undermining American transport and urban mass transit, the bus and auto giant was doing all in its power to enhance Reich transport". Or, "The single most fuel-inefficient undertaking on earth is arguably the heavily armed military convoy escorting oil tanker trucks in Iraq. More petroleum is undoubtedly consumed to protect the delivery than is carried in the tanker itself". Or that 'it takes 1.29 gallons of petroleum or petroleum equivalents to produce one gallon of ethanol'. (The Brazilians use sugar cane in a different process that is self sustaining and is explained in detail.) The author follows mankind from thousands of years ago to now as he continually misuses energy. He goes into the alternative energy sources: ocean thermal, geothermal, wind and solar, nanosolar. He devotes a whole chapter to hydrogen. His depiction of Honda's FCX hydrogen car is very very cool. In conclusion, the author stresses, there needs to be a public policy that excercises "sane" stewardship over energy and those who control it. A very informative and instructive read of the energy crisis that we as mankind face today. Highly recommended!!!!
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19 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Black is back with another gem!, September 16, 2006
This new Black gem is typical Edwin - a boldly written page-turner brightly illuminating past misdeeds and miscreants as an important lesson for the future. As with his past books, IC features Black's trademark meticulous, well-referenced original research that draws upon previously unseen records and collections, such as the judge's hand-written notes from the GM conspiracy trial.

In this latest investigation, Black goes back thousands of years, telling the history of fuel use and cartels, bringing life to mostly forgotten events. Black not only brings life to these events, but shows how enthralling well-told history can be.

IC then moves to the real meat, the saga of the bad boys of bicycles, electric vehicles, and the internal combustion engine. Black gives life to great names of the past - Edison and Ford, among others. The telling is vivid - one can picture the massive and suspicious fire that destroyed Edison's facilities and the electric future that went with those facilities.

Along with the book's heroes - people like Edison and Ford and companies like Honda - are the goats, like GM. Black meticulously dissects their activities in unravelling the electric trolley system - in a line by line, document by document, action by action telling of their massive conspiracy that is impossible to put down. (Flak jackets optional!)

After whacking the ethanol industry, Black identifies the transportation fuel of the future as being hydrogen, made from renewable sources such as solar and wind. Not suprisingly, Black's corporate hero for the future is Honda. And in an extremely insightful assessment, Black lauds Honda not only for their work on fuel cell vehicles, but more importantly, their Home Energy Center that is now in development.

I had the opportunity to see Black speak to the California Hydrogen Business Council at a book launch on September 15. Black is as good a speaker as he is a writer, and provided a few surprises. He is on a 300 event book tour right now, and I would urge you to see him speak in person as well as read the book. See Black's web site for list of tour dates.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars No denying the facts, March 20, 2007
Having grown up in Los Angeles, I remember the fun of riding the red electric street car as a small child over 60 years ago. I watched as the system was replaced by a maze of freeways and the concomittant development, changing a great landscape into what has become known as Californication. After reading this book, now I know how and why it happened. Black writes convincingly of the greed that has dictated public energy policy over the past 100 years and brought us to our present sorry state of affairs with pollution, global warming, and oil dependency. While some of the conspiracy implications may not be proven in this book, there is no denying the consequences of our energy history. I found the book a thoughtful, well researched and well written presentation of this history. It was an enjoyable if disturbing read.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Edwin Black a bit preachy., November 4, 2006
By 
geneseo_rick (Elko, Nevada USA) - See all my reviews
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Edwin Black tells some very important and interesting history, which is extremely relevant today. The chapter discussing the GM conspiracy and how they, Standard Oil, and Firestone, dismembered and destroyed the electric trolly system in this county between the mid 30's and mid 50's is very tragic, and is enough to make a person never want to buy a GM product again.

However, I have a few problems with the way the author writes. First, he says in the introduction that if the reader is not planning on reading the entire book, he or she should not read it at all. Excuse me? O.K., so I did read the whole book. Secondly, he jumps around, back and forth, from year to year. Thirdly, he gets awfully preachy. He tells us on virtually every page in the first half of the book that the entrepreneurs of the 1800's and early 1900's were very, very greedy. In the second half of the book he drifts too many times into telling us of the complicity between GM and IBM and Nazi Germany. I did not need all of this moralizing; the business world has never been a sweet place, especially in the international setting. Also, I do not think that he talks enough about the historical role of governance, or lack thereof. Lastly, in the final chapter - on hydrogen, he does not convey clearly enough that hydrogen is merely a carrier; it takes a lot of energy to create hydrogen fuel.

But all in all, this book is very well researched and is a must read because of the great importance of the subject matter.
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14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars We make our own history, again starting today..., January 4, 2007
By 
David Arnold (St. Louis, MO USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Internal Combustion:

My deeper appreciation of this book (IC) comes from following footnotes in Edwin Black's scholarly documented and engagingly written Banking on Baghdad. It is a privilege and weal to seek support for a presumed fact, only to have it overturned by evidence, or read of some contentions held solely by cranks, only to see them revealed as authentic, historical and true. But Black's skill in story finding and telling, coordinating scores of volunteers and command of 50,000 plus relevant documents is not IC's greatest strength.

I've relearned to read and understand both footnotes and acknowledgements to (understand) apprehend the completely transparent, public story that none-the-less is often missed even by the fervent fans of books clutched who skip the nearly quarter of a book which is the primary and secondary source validation.

No blank assertions will you find in this book.

But hearing truth on top of skill is not its greatest value. Courage to name names and say plainly what history would hide is admirable, and would distinguish this book. But what does make this recounting of history and peering into the near future worthy of special notice, of our time to read and investment of our life to buy what lies revealed in these pages? Many can bash the evil, or even laud the good.

Internal Combustion transcends even these because it provides obvious (and supported) history and human beating heart context, and challenges me personally to crawl out of abstractions and face facts: among them that right now more than 6 times the energy annually obtained from oil is annually available within our boarders in the United States. Clean green power. Now. Already.

The ramifications are transcendent.

With irrefutable support on every page, in every paragraph, and in every sentence, Edwin Black makes me as a reader see how potent and relevant my daily choices are, and understand the ramifications of the impact of hundreds of thousands of minor players--footnotes--like myself, in the aggregate.

My vote, my car, my energy, political activity, my very life I may concede as insignificant.

But in concert with millions of others, my turning awareness, as nourished by Edwin Black, is far from impotent--the contrary--the world hinges and rides upon the likes of us, and the choices we make based on what we know.

And Edwin Black leaves no doubt at the last page, on the last line, just exactly what it is that we know we know.

Perhaps everybody knows that the dice are loaded and everybody knows it's coming apart, yet Black with Internal Combustion goes a step beyond recognition of fact and heart ache; and so it is that Edwin Black, in extension beyond that leaves me clearly seeing what I know, what it means, how I got here, and what really I can do--what to do.

Thank you Edwin.

David Arnold
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The most complete incomplete history book of 2006, August 25, 2007
By 
Newton Ooi (Phoenix, Arizona United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
A common thread throughout human history is the suspicion that the way the world is did not come about naturally as a result of countless choices by countless individuals; but instead was cobbled together via a series of hidden decisions made by those in power for the sake of expanding or preserving their power. In modern America, this line of thought is often denoted as "cospiracy theory". Beginning with the explosion of the USS Maine that began the Spanish-American War, continuuing thru the timing of Pearl Harbor, the JFK assasination, the Oklahoma City Bombing and then 9-11, historical evidence is annually produced which implies that elected officials often and purposefully makes decisions that are antithical to the national good. Often times these conspiracy theories are quickly debunked, but other times, a few key interviews, a fortunate bumbling and suddenly a mountain of evidence comes pouring out verifying the wildest suspicions. The most famous examples are the Watergate scandal, probably followed by Iran-Contra, and the legacies behind the Tucker and DeLorian cars.

But maybe the most important "conspiracy theory" proven true is the one documented in this book by Edwin Black. Dr. Black and his coworkers literally combed through tons of documentation that show how the modern industrialized world has come to depend on oil. The book is written in chronological order, and the first half shows how previous societies were also built around the dependence on non-renewable fuels, such as coal, wood, peat bog, etc... These previous societies included the ancient Egyptians, the Victorian English, and various empires of ancient Mesopotamia.

The second half of the book focuses on the period from 1880 to 1950, when critical decisions were made that destroyed both mass transit and the electric car industry in America, and replaced it with the system of freeways and gas automobiles. The key culprits included General Motors, Standard Oil and its children, and to a lesser extent, Yellow Cab, National City Lines, and various local, state, and nationally elected and appointed officials. Using all sorts of unsavory actions such as bribery, extortion, kickbacks, blackmail, front companies, and monopolistic practices, GM, Standard Oil and their corporate accomplices manipulated state and local authorities into giving up mass transit and adopting gas cars and freeways.

Throughout the book, the author presents a whole multitude of referenced evidence to prove his point. Sources include court proceedings, interviews, newspaper articles, publications in peer-reviewed journals, business contracts, legislative records, etc... And along the way, the author highlights critical moments when history could have been changed, when America could have stepped away from oil and pursued other sources. The final two chapters shows how alternative energy sources are being used in other countries, such as ethanol in Brazil, geothermal in Iceland, and solar energy in Germany. Surprisingly, in the final chapter, the author argues for hydrogen fuel via fuel cells as the future of energy. This reviewer personally believes solar is more feasible.

The only shortfall of the book is its time span. The period from 1950 to 2005 gets about 25% of the book, even though many crucial events happened here that deserve more mention. Excluded events that deserved more mention in this book include the following:
1. Several US presidents, notably Nixon, pressuring OPEC to drop oil prices as a way of hurting the USSR, which depended on international oil sales for hard cash.
2. The spread of zoning laws that forcefully separated residential, commercial and business areas, thereby forcing everyone to drive from home to work to school.
3. The Detroit-led fight against CAFE standards, unleaded gasoline, catalytic converters, and a whole host of other measures.
4. The links between current Afghan president Hamid Karzai and the western oil companies.
5. The increasing rivalry among East Asian countries over local oil sources.
6. The oil depletion tax break and how it affects US national politics.
7. Local bans against the use of alternative energy sources, especially in Republican states. The best example of this is in sun-rich Arizona, where most home-owners associations ban any installation of solar panels, even in the back yards where nobody can see them. I suspect the oil, coal and natural gas companies had something to do with this.

It is because of these misses that I call this an incomplete book. But even with all that it lacks, it still contains a great amount of knowledge. The reading level of the book is appropriate for high school seniors, and I would recommend it for anyone and everyone.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great but disturbing info., March 15, 2007
This book was a real eye opener. After listening to a talk from Mr. Black on BookTV, I was compelled to buy the book and read more of the details of the information he talked about. The book was well documented, well written and full of disturbing information. It is a real shame that this information isn't general knowledge.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Even more powerful story in audio format!, April 10, 2007
Edwin Black's INTERNAL COMBUSTION: HOW CORPORATIONS AND GOVERNMENTS ADDICTED THE WORLD TO OIL AND DERAILED THE ALTERNATIVES receives the award-winning voice of APA Audie winner Stephen Hoye as it tells of corruption and manipulation which led the U.S. to an oil addiction which was never necessary. Corporate and governmental archives are the source for this informational history that traces the present reliance on oil to corporate greed: it's an even more powerful story in audio format!
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Edwin Blacks Book could change the world-for the better, September 21, 2006
This book is an amazing expose of how power corruption and money took our country from using energy renewable resources to being an oil guzzing, air polluting and terror funding entity. This book shows how we got off the track of uning battery and electric energy sources, in order to support the economics of the middle east and the oil barons who profited from our use of fossil fuel.

The story of how we could have become energy independent but took another path is one that will not only teach you, but is an adventure in reading that you will not forget. The details, the research, the amazing scope of just how we got ourselves into the crisis we are in can help us understand how to reverse this situation. This book is more important today not only to support the eco system, but to get us away from paying countries enormous amounts of money so they can in turn kill us. Everytime you go to the gas pump, you are paying someone who want to kill you. This book shows how we can stop this, change the world, and move forward. Edwin Black again proves his genius and his vast understanding of how inmportant it is to regain control of renewable resources. This is a must read for everyone, and every leader in the government should be required to read and understand this situation.
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