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The King of Oil: The Secret Lives of Marc Rich Hardcover – October 13, 2009


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press; First Edition edition (October 13, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312570740
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312570743
  • Product Dimensions: 9.6 x 6.5 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (54 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #341,633 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

An empathetic look at the notorious Marc Rich, one of the most successful and controversial commodities traders in recent history and a key figure in the invention of the spot market. With unparalleled access to Rich, his family and associates, business journalist Ammann paints a nuanced portrait of the man vilified for trading with Iran and apartheid-era South Africa, accused of being the biggest tax fraudster in U.S. history and recipient of an infamous presidential pardon. At the pinnacle of his power, Rich presided over a multinational empire, and his opinion on key people in power in various rogue nations was routinely, if clandestinely, sought by the State Department despite his criminal status. Rich has scrupulously guarded his personal history, but Ammann reveals the struggle it was—from his family's escape from the Holocaust through their internment in a North African refugee camp to their bitter years as immigrants in the U.S. in the aftermath of WWII. This meticulous account sets the record straight on a reluctant public figure who lost in the court of public opinion, but escaped being tried in a court of law. Photos. (Oct.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review

“It’s a psychological thriller, each page percolating with the triumphant darkness that is Marc David Rich.”--Bloomberg  News

"An empathetic look at the notorious Marc Rich, one of the most successful and controversial commodities traders in recent history and a key figure in the invention of the spot market. With unparalleled access to Rich, his family and associates, business journalist Ammann paints a nuanced portrait of the man vilified for trading with Iran and apartheid-era South Africa, accused of being the biggest tax fraudster in U.S. history and recipient of an infamous presidential pardon. This meticulous account sets the record straight on a reluctant public figure who lost in the court of public opinion, but escaped being tried in a court of law." –Publishers Weekly

"Is Rich a rogue or a philanthropic businessman? Ammann lets readers draw their own conclusion. This book reads like a cross between a rags-to-riches saga and a cloak-and-dagger thriller, but it's also an excellent and timely primer on the world of commodities trading within a global economy and will greatly appeal to readers interested in current events." –Library Journal


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Customer Reviews

Very well written.
Raul Cordoba
The writer also comes off as a fawning admirer of Rich....nothing wrong with that, just a little annoying.
brzvsky
In refusing to succumb to U.S. bullying, the Swiss government is an unsung hero in this tale.
Mercenary Trader

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

24 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Kindle Addict on November 25, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As much as any book can, The King of Oil reveals an incredible amount of information into the world of Marc Rich. Because Marc Rich is so secretive it is hard to compare this book to any other written pieces about him.....but this book is fascinating because it touches upon the geopolitics, the emergence of the spot market for oil, commodity trading, presidential politics, business etc.

The downside of this book is that it doesn't reveal "how" Marc Rich won crucial contracts, established relationships and competed with other commodity traders. Perhaps it's too hard to reconstruct the deal-making conversations, but it would be interesting to hear the inside stories of those critical turning points in his career.

The book is an easy read and well worth it for anyone who is interested in the intersection of geopolitics and business.
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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful By L. Bonner on October 30, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I read "Metal Men" by Copetas when it was published in the 1980's. At the time it was a supposed expose about Marc Rich and his expoitative behavior and treachery, and was the only book written about him. There was never an interview with Rich in the book, and when I re-read it after the Clinton pardon in 2001 it still left me with a feeling that alot was missing.
This new book by Ammann is a satisfying, eye-opening piece of balanced journalism that sheds enough light on Rich's life and works to allow the reader to make his own judgment on the man and the circumstances.
A well-written read for anyone interested in the life and motivations of an international businessman and, by default, political figure.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Andrew Tollemache on December 13, 2009
Format: Hardcover
This is good book and I would daresay, an important one. For a man of his importance and prominence, Marc Rich has not been the focus of too many books. The total access that the author got to write this book makes it a very worthy read. For decades the only side of this story I knew was the prosecution's case. Ammann's interviews with Rich allow us to hear the other side, to hear counter arguments and perspective from the man himself. Does he give a totally balanced and detailed explanation of Rich's activities? No. Does it matter? Not really, since someone else will probably have to write that book. This subject area is ripe for further research and I welcome Ammann's effort here.
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18 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Erica Ford on May 31, 2010
Format: Hardcover
While it might be true the author would be free to write whatever he wanted, the book reads like the deal between the author and marc was a wink wink nod nod in that the book would be favorable to marc rich and try to redeem himself with the public.

the book lacks the details on how Marc did his deals. This book is for entertainment purposes only and it is not very useful at all.
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29 of 39 people found the following review helpful By pyeguy on June 28, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Ammann's book on Marc Rich is essentially a wildly sycophantic PR effort, which attempts to compensate for what Ammann asserts as Rich's "PR advisers [having] not kept up with the times" (p. 139).

Straying more than a bit from pure `business journalism', Ammann at one point oddly fetes Rich with: "At seventy-four, Rich still exhibits the handsome features that made him such a good-looking man in his younger years. Once can see a strong resemblance to Rudolph Valentino [!!!!], the tragic star of the silent film era, in Rich's earlier photographs" (p.144).

The book contains countless factual errors regarding governments, regions and leaders of the world that traded with Rich. This work doesn't reveal the "hows" of Rich's methods so much as the "whys", all the while drawing an unnecessary mystique around Rich, his colleagues and enablers, and the state of commodity-backed global fiscal corruption in general.

Ammann maliciously labels Iran - which Marc Rich utilized under two regimes to build his oil trading wealth on - as an "anti-Semitic regime" that's hell-bent on destroying Israel, despite A) continued dealings between Iran and both Marc Rich & Co. then, as well as its current Swiss manifestation, Glencore, now; and B) tens of thousands of Jews living there for millennia without the kinds of pogroms or genocide insinuated by this agenda-ridden author.

As other reviewers also pointed out, Ammann treacherously floats that anti-Semitism drove the US prosecutor's legal campaign against Marc Rich. The author nonchalantly does so by having Rich confirm that such is the case, only to then include a brief, terse response from Sandy Weinberg in firm rebuttal as the end of it. This is gutter journalism at its worst.
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24 of 32 people found the following review helpful By veneto on June 1, 2010
Format: Hardcover
This book is slanderous, poorly written, tendentious, and repetive. Two hundred pages attempting to convince readers that "ethics" are dated, that Marc Rich is a victim of some vast political conspiracy, and that if you are a Jew you deserve special treatment even if being prosecuted for Crimes.

The last point I find the most disturbing, and in need of elaboration.

As an offspring of Holocaust survivors, I feel their odyssey tarnished and ridiculed by a book which at every turn deliberately exploits the Holocaust to dredge up unwarranted sympathy for Marc Rich, and at many a turn smears those interested in the Marc Rich case as driven by Anti-Semitism. This is an insult to me, my parents, the Jewish people, and history.

It is doubtful this book was written without the approval of Avner Azulay, Marc Rich's intel operative. I have a word of advice for Avner- next time you want to whitewash your boss's image, please leave Jews out of it. Keep your shmata to yourself. Just don't go there. I suggest you get a better journalist to do your job ,if you can't do without it. Mr. Ammann clearly has trouble with his writing style, as his chapters read like newspaper articles disconnected from what came before and what comes after.

The actual information content of the book - could have been compressed into a nice New Yorker or Vanity Fair article. The reader learns virtually nothing until two thirds into the book, and even that is limited to five pages.

The clincher is in the author's final observation that it was all Richard Nixon's fault. It was Nixon who interfered with the markets Marc Rich saught to liberate!
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