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Oil on the Brain: Petroleum's Long, Strange Trip to Your Tank Paperback – February 12, 2008


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Broadway Books; Reprint edition (February 12, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0767916972
  • ISBN-13: 978-0767916974
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.8 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #262,416 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

“If you drive a car, you must read this book.” —Mary Roach, author of Stiff

“By giving voice to the people who are the links in the global oil chain, Margonelli invites us to leapfrog all the rhetoric, dry statistics, and dire pronouncements about oil in order to truly understand it.” —Fast Company

“Hugely enjoyable, compulsively readable, and brilliantly reported.” —Po Bronson, author of What Should I Do with My Life?

“From the corner gas station to the oil fields of Nigeria, there couldn't be a better traveling companion than Margonelli. She's fast, fearless, funny, and a brilliant observer."
—Barbara Ehrenreich, author of Nickel and Dimed

About the Author

LISA MARGONELLI is currently an Irvine Fellow at the New America Foundation. She has written for the San Francisco Chronicle, Wired, Business 2.0, Discover, and Jane, and was the recipient of a Sundance Institute Fellowship and an excellence in journalism award from the Northern California Society of Professional Journalists. She is based in Oakland, California.

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Alan Poynor on August 19, 2008
Format: Paperback
I read this book as part of a review group associated with the petroleum industry. I have over twenty years of experience in the refining industry, so most of the information this book contains in that regard held little new information. However, it's important to point out that the book also didn't contain any misinformation. My experience with production and trading is limited, so I picked up a great deal of information on those aspects. If you are not familiar with the oil and gas industries, and would like to know the "how and why" of them, I would recommend this book highly. The author not only discusses domestic (US) production and supply, but also foreign areas, such as Nigeria. In short, I think this book represents the broadest, and easiest, source of information a lay person would find useful as a starting point for exploring an industry that affects all our lives.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By JAF on September 7, 2009
Format: Paperback
If you think the Strategic Petroleum Reserve sounds deadly dull, read this book and be surprised. Along with the chapters on Venezuela, Chad and Nigeria, this material will give you a more connected understanding of how oil influences global politics and economics.

This is my favorite type of book: a painless and fun way to learn important stuff. It's comprehensively researched and usefully annotated, and the perspective is balanced.

There is no particular failing that causes me to give 4 stars rather than 5. I would only give 5 stars to one of my dozen or so favorite books of all time. This book is merely excellent.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Linda Stevens on September 5, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Especially relevant in these days of high gasoline prices, this book is everything you ever wanted to know about gasoline. It starts at the gas station and traces back to distributor, refinery, oil rigs, etc. all the way back to the countries that supply our crude oil. The book was first published in 2007 - before prices soared. It provides a thoughtful discussion of the mechanics and politics of gasoline. It is a
"must-read" for everyone who complains about the high cost of gasoline
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16 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Roy B. Luck on December 5, 2008
Format: Paperback
Lisa Margonelli's book Oil on the Brain is an interesting narrative about oil, starting at the pump and progressing 'upstream' towards the oilfields that produce crude oil. The first few chapters on gas station franchising, the distribution business, and refining are illustrative. The author spent some time on a rigsite in east Texas where a gas well was being drilled. Also very good. Interesting material on the NYMEX exchange and the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR), although the editorializing starts in Chapter 5.

Alas, the chapters on foreign countries - Venezuela, Nigeria, Chad, Iran - are less informative. Not nearly as much factual data and intellectual rigor as in the first few chapters. More quotes from biased and limited sources, much more opinion. As a result, the book became a struggle to finish, with all the opinion. Interesting for an author who claims to know little about oil and gas at the outset, to pen such broad and sweeping conclusions and statements in the later chapters. The last chapter deals with Chinese attempts to build smaller more fuel-efficient cars. This is ironic, as the Chinese National Petroleum Company is making acquisitions of marginal oil and gas properties all over the world - desperate to gain access to oil. The author doesn't mention deepwater oil and gas production in Nigeria (almost 1/3 of the country's production comes from 4 deep water developments) or Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG).

As an alternative to this book, I recommend John Ghazvinian's Book 'Untapped-The Struggle for Africa's Oil' which features chapters on several countries in Africa that have gained prominence in recent years for their oil potential. More data, more reporting, less bias, less barely-concealed contempt for the oil and gas business. Ms.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Ryan Costa on September 7, 2008
Format: Paperback
The title is very inspirational. Americans rely on the stuff oil is used for more than anyone else. But we don't spend much time thinking about it. Oil on the Brain tries to change that with a comprehensive exploration of what oil is and where it comes from. The geopolitics of how we "negotiate" getting it and paying for it are greatly revealed. Geopolitics are only briefly explored(war and between-war posturing)
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By James B. Johnson on August 30, 2008
Format: Paperback
OIL ON THE BRAIN is a survey of virtually every facet of the oil market and industry, from gas station to national policies. The author spends time at each segment, collecting information, interviewing the players, and experiencing whats happening.

The book is well written, interesting, and provides a detailed overview of our friend gasoline.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Jack McLean on March 7, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This was deffinently a great book to read. actually read it for a college class, but it was really good. It's a personal travel of oil from the ground to your tank.
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By A. Walter on September 7, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
our book club read this book...it was very educational and made for a good discussion. I have passed it on to a son who works at our local refinery.
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