From Publishers Weekly
In the last few years, just about everyone has had "oil on the brain" at some point, as record gas prices and a disastrous war have called our dependency into question. But though the U.S. burns 10,000 gallons of gasoline a second, few of us know how oil is created and drilled, how gas stations compete or what actually goes on in a refinery—let alone what happens in the mysterious Strategic Petroleum Reserve, where the U.S. government stores roughly 700 million barrels of oil in underground salt caverns on the Gulf Coast of Texas. Margonelli answers these questions and more, before examining some of the key patches in the oil industry's geopolitical quilt: source countries like Chad, where promises of real local growth fall hopelessly short, or China, which, "by 2025, perhaps, will import as much crude oil as the U.S. does now." Writing in a witty, first-person voice, Margonelli criticizes corruption in places like Nigeria, while expressing her "love of hydrocarbons" for the unlikeliness of their formation and the ingenuity required to extricate them. This is an original, open-minded look at a subject about which everyone has an opinion. (Feb. 6)
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Margonelli has written about the culture and economy of energy for publications such as Wired
, and the San Francisco Chronicle
. In the summer of 2003, she started hanging out at independent gas stations, where owners might clear pennies per gallon of gas, surviving on impulse sales of junk food and soda. Her journey takes us up the delivery chain, spending a typical day with a tanker truck driver, hanging out with suppliers, touring refineries, and seeing what life is like at an oil rig. Whether visiting "wildcatters" in Texas, the Strategic Petroleum Reserve in the Gulf of Mexico, or the oil pit at the New York Mercantile Exchange, Margonelli charms her way into the good graces of insiders to report on the vast petroleum network. Her voyage takes us to Venezuela, Chad, Nigeria, and ultimately the Persian Gulf, where she spends time at the Salmon oil fields in Iran. Filled with rich history, industry anecdotes, and politics, Margonelli's book brings a deeper appreciation of the complicated and often tenuous process that we take for granted. David SiegfriedCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved