From Publishers Weekly
In this penetrating study of the modern petroleum industry, journalist and historian Bower (Outrageous Fortune) portrays the last 30 years as a time of both obscene profits and white-knuckle perils for the major oil companies. Having lost market share and pricing power to OPEC, government oil monopolies, and all-powerful commodities markets, Bowers contends, oil companies are locked in a desperate scramble for reserves, most of them located in unstable countries ruled by hostile potentates. He follows executives and engineers as they drill ever deeper under the sea for elusive deposits, brave Machiavellian negotiations with Vladimir Putin and the Russian oligarchs, and kowtow to Hugo Chavez for access to Venezuela™s fields. They weather oil spills, refinery explosions, antitrust regulators, and global warming activists. Bower wallows overmuch in boardroom soap opera, but his analysis of the industry and its shocking price swings is a persuasive one that eschews conspiracy theories and peak oil alarmism to focus on rising demand for reserves that are plentiful but hard to get at. The result is an illuminating look at a business whose real workings are more interesting than the mythology surrounding them.
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"Sweeping in scope and densely detailed...a rare and highly illuminating global perspective on the industry over the last two decades."—The New York Times
"In this penetrating study of the modern petroleum industry, journalist and historian Bower) portrays the last 30 years as a time of both obscene profits and white-knuckle perils for the major oil companies.....his analysis of the industry and its shocking price swings is a persuasive one that eschews conspiracy theories and peak oil alarmism to focus on rising demand for reserves that are plentiful but hard to get at. The result is an illuminating look at a business whose real workings are more interesting than the mythology surrounding them."—Publishers Weekly
"Oil couldn't be a hotter or messier topic, making Bower's sprawling exploration of its modern history - told through the perspectives of engineers, traders, an oligarch and industry players such as BP's John Browne and Exxon's Lee Raymond- all the more timely."—USA Today
"[Bower's book is] ominous, even prescient, in what it says about BP's past practices."—LA Times
"With one of the worst environmental disasters in American history now troubling the waters and coastline of the Gulf of Mexico, this monumental history of the oil industry during the past two decades has much more relevance...This exhaustively researched and well-written volume covers the whole waterfront of major oil companies, the people who run them, the roles of politicians and governments in chasing oil, the traders who have yo-yoed its price, the wars that have been fueled by competition for it and the role it continues to play in regional and global instability."—Fort Worth Star Telegram
"Investigative journalist Tom Bower has used the same narrative approach as Sampson [The Seven Sisters
] and Yergin [The Prize
] to bring the industry's story forward from the 1980s to the present day, and his book bears comparison with theirs . . . the reader is ushered into a front-row seat, and what follows is often gripping. However fast-paced, Bower cleverly keeps the action in focus . . . [he] builds up a brilliant picture . . . [and] achieves impressively seamless continuity."—The Times Literary Supplement (London)
"A roller-coaster account . . . [Bower] has a real sense of the drama of deal-making and deal-breaking, of keeping vast corporations afloat in conditions that are rarely stable."—Telegraph (UK)
"Bower gets the big strategic judgments right."—The Sunday Times (London)
"A gripping and convincing account of the turbulent story of the global oil industry . . . the events he covers are scarcely less dramatic than those described in The Prize
, including the ascent of the oil price to record highs. Bower's book has the advantage of being scorchingly topical . . . provides the fascinating story behind the headlines . . . a first-rate account of where the oil industry is now, and some useful pointers as to where it is going."—Financial Times (UK)