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24 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It's all Kissinger's fault, September 20, 2011
This review is from: The Oil Kings: How the U.S., Iran, and Saudi Arabia Changed the Balance of Power in the Middle East (Hardcover)
No, seriously.

In this well-written, well-researched book about the Shah of Iran's attempts to make himself the new Cyrus, mixed with Richard Nixon's post-Vietnam search for agents of empire by extension and mixed with the Shah and King Faisal squaring off for oil hegemony, the "captain of the USS Titanic," steering the American economy for the iceberg of doing anything to help Mohammad Reza Pahlavi ... was Henry Kissinger.

This included him and Nixon writing a blank check to the Shah for unlimited arms deals, a blank check that Kissinger refused to tell either Ford or Carter about. (Kissinger refused interview requests for this book.)

Others were at fault, too. Nixon himself for writing that blank check, even if on Kissinger's advice. William Simon, for leaning too far the Saudis' way. Don Rumsfeld, whose arrogance 25 years ago under Ford was no less than under Bush.

But at the heart of it all was Henry Kissinger, enabling the Shah's every wrong-sized dream, while being ignorant of the inflation the Shah was inflicting on himself, and the wreckage he was inflicting on the United States, Western Europe and Japan, even while Henry claimed he knew more economics than most of Nixon's economics team.

The Shah might still be in power, or his son, rather, if we had reined him in. (Kissinger also missed the mullahs as the possible source of a revolution, seeing only Commies.) Energy shortages were happening before the first embargo of 1973, but might have been better managed to the benefit of the Shah, Faisal and other Arab oil states and the West, all alike. And, the Israel situation might have been better handled, too.

The book ends soon after Carter's accession, with Faisal dead and the Shah on his way. A sequel would be wonderful.

I learned a fair amount about pre-embargo 1972 energy shortages, which only increased realizing Kissinger was not only a megalomaniac and immoral (see Chile/Allende), but also grossly incompetent.

Faisal comes off well, overall. The Shah? A figure of tragedy, but a self-isolated one, as dictators tend to be.
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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Whatever happened to cheap gas?, September 19, 2011
This review is from: The Oil Kings: How the U.S., Iran, and Saudi Arabia Changed the Balance of Power in the Middle East (Hardcover)
This concise, comprehensive, objective, documented (100 pages of notes) petropolitical economic and diplomatic military history answers that question; and it probaly isn't what you think. The story of the "largest transfer of wealth in history" has been 'slicked' over by the participants, most recently by Dick Cheney and most blantantly by Henry Kissinger. And let's not forget Mr. Nixon and the Rockerfellers (Nelson and Dave). Where did all those billions go? Military hardware and logistics got its fair share. And whose banks did the money flow through? Go back to the last name for one. These gentlemen made secret backdoor diplomacy an art form: The Shah being the protagonist (was he the first to urge us to 'go green'?). And then there's the Mexican banks, the CIA, SAVAK, CREEP, OPEC, CENCOM, IBEX and Watergate(!). This book, due in part to recently declassified documents, fills an important gap in American historical non-fiction. I'll emphasise that last word, because you couldn't make this stuff up; unfortunately for us watching those digits fly on the gas pumps.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Nixon, Kissinger, Ford, the Shah, and the Saudis. It was Kissinger in the Palace with the Oil Can, September 24, 2012
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This review is from: The Oil Kings: How the U.S., Iran, and Saudi Arabia Changed the Balance of Power in the Middle East (Hardcover)
Author Andrew Scott Cooper's first book "Oil Kings" is surprising well written and entertaining. The book is primary about the Shah of Iran, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, and his dealings with President Richard Nixon and the duplicitous Henry Kissinger. The book centers around a secret deal between the Shah, Nixon, and Kissinger which allowed Iran to purchase best of class U.S. weapons systems, advance jet fighters, smart bombs, etc. in any quantity desired. Basically anything weapons short of nukes were available for purchase by the Shah. In return, the President would allow the Shah to raise oil prices through OPEC to cover the costs of the weapons. The U.S. was reeling from its involvement in Vietnam. The mood of the country was against any military action abroad. The country was being torn apart by protest and incidents such as the Kent State shootings still fresh in the minds of Americans. The Shah was ambitious and saw himself as the heir to the great Persian Kings of the ancient world. The Shah would use his newly acquired weaponry to protect the Persian Gulf and Israel from Soviet influence.

The first series of oil price increases implemented by OPEC shocked the economies of the west. The Shah waved aside any suggestion that the price increases were endangering the oil consuming nations especially the Europeans. The Shah was blinded by his grand vision of a modern westernized Iran. No one realized the Shah was racing against time after being diagnosed with cancer.

Watergate was a disaster for the U.S. - Iran relations. With the resignation of Nixon, the Shah lost his most powerful supporter in Washington. Kissinger was still Secretary of State but more and more Kissinger was finding himself on the losing side of the debate on U.S. - Iranian policy discussions in Washington. Slowly members of the Ford Administration were realizing that additional price increases would crush Europe and possibly lead to communist takeovers of the European countries. Secretary of the Treasury Simon and others were pushing for a closer relationship with the Saudis. The Saudis were opposed to rapid increases in the price of oil. As the Shah would soon learn concerning oil revenues, too much too fast was not desirable. Inflationary surges and lack of resources would lead to domestic unrest.

Secretary of Defense, James Schlesinger, was one of the first cabinet members to raise concerns about the ambitions of the Shah. As the Shah became more independent of Washington and more friendly with Sadat of Egypt, Israeli interests were being threatened. Israel was being pushed to give back territory captured from Egypt in the war so it was necessary to secure their supply of oil from Iran. Egypt was also a soviet satellite, so the friendship between Iran and Egypt was causing policy makers in Washington to realize that no one had throughly thought thru the consequences of Nixon's policy towards Iran.

Some Arab OPEC members were trying to link the Israel - Palestine question to the oil embargo. The Shah had pledged to protect the flow of oil and to kept Israel supplied with oil. There was even a joint U.S. and Iranian plan to invade Saudi Arabia and Kuwait to protect the flow of oil. As this plan was leaked to the press Saudi Arabia was outraged and had to move to protect their interest.

Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney would enter the Ford Administration and work to neutralize Kissinger's influence and together with Secretary of Treasury Simon and Alan Greenspan finally convince President Ford to initiate closer relations with the Saudis in an successful attempt to call the Shah's bluff on oil prices. Saudi is the swing producer in OPEC, meaning that the Saudi oil production can be used to meet demand. The Saudis refused to back the Shah's push for another price increase at the OPEC meeting, which meant that the Shah was financially ruined as he committed Iran to a massive spending program that was no longer affordable for Iran.

The Shah had heated up the Iranian economy to a point beyond its capacity to absorb the cash coming in. There were cargo ships that were waiting to be unloaded for over 200 days, resulting in capital equipment rusting on the docks. Saudi Arabia was eager to avoid this in their country; in fact, petro-dollar recycling became a major issue for the international banking system. For example, if a bank did accept large petro-dollars deposits they could be susceptible to collapse if the funds were suddenly withdrawn.

The book continues into the Carter Administration and moves quickly up to the revolution; although, the book doesn't cover the revolution itself other than the lead up and it is quickly glazed over to the end.

I've summarized the story above but I didn't do the story justice as Mr. Cooper does. I've had many insights while reading this book that explained other books I'ver read on related topics. In "A Century of War: Anglo-American Oil Politics and the New World Order" by F. William Engdahl, the 1973 Bilderberg meeting minutes were published that discussed increasing the price of oil. Kissinger attended this meeting so it makes sense that Kissinger was working against the best interest of the U.S. in secrectly supporting the increase in the price of oil. The oil price was increased to make the investments by the major oil companies in the north sea profitable and to cause economic problems for the Europeans to help cover the financial problems the U.S. was having after closing the gold window.

Another insight that left me wondering was how the U.S. seemed to have toppled the Shah after they lost control over him. Although Mr. Cooper never suggested that the U.S. was involved in the overthrow of the Shah of Iran, he does layout a sense of dissatisfaction with the Shah. I also got a feeling that certain insiders seem to be looking after Israel's interest once the Shah started asking for Nuclear reactors. The book will definitely provide an interesting view into the machinery of foreign policy in action. It feels like you are getting an insiders look.

Get the book you won't be disappointed

For example I suggest reading the following books along with this book.

A Century of War: : Anglo-American Oil Politics and the New World Order
Oil, God, and Gold: The Story of Aramco and the Saudi Kings
The Hidden Hand of American Hegemony: Petrodollar Recycling and International Markets (Cornell Studies in Political Economy)
Myths, Lies and Oil Wars
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely Riveting!!!, May 22, 2012
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What can I say? An absolutely riveting book that is hard to put down!!! The author does an amazing job of meticulously walking the reader step by step through history and highlighting how the power in the Middle East oil producing countries shifted from Iran to Saudi Arabia. The book is extremely well researched and the author's efforts and time are very obvious!

The book uses two primary focal points throughout the entire book to explain the events and they are the Shah of Iran and the American Government and uses Saudi Arabia as somewhat of a secondary focal point. As someone from the region I found the book greatly informative, despite the slightly westernized perspective on some issues such as King Faisal's stance on the oil embargo and his fears of other Arab leaders, these points are somewhat contestable. The Author states that it was Gadafi, Sadam, and others who forced King Faisal into the embargo, however i find this contradictory to the reseach of local writiers in the region where is more commonly accepted that King Faisal was at the forefront of the embargo. This aside, still a great book!

One point I have to raise that the author misstated, is the point that the Shah did in fact claim that Bahrain (an Arab state) was once part of Iran, and this did happen. However, there was a UN resolution that Bahrain is an Arab state and rejected Iran's claims. Iran's claims on Bahrain have been and are based on a document signed by a representative of the British crown centuries ago who was relieved from his post for signing that document without having the authority to do so on behalf of the corwn. This matter is clearly documented in another book entitled `The Pirate Coast' by Sir Charles Belgrave.

Other than that, the book is a truly fascinating and capturing read and is a must for anyone wishing to get a firm grip on the events of that period and some understanding of the effect of oil on economies and politics.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read, February 26, 2012
By 
Bruce (Albany, NY USA) - See all my reviews
This was a great book, recent history as it should be done. Mr. Cooper covers the complex interaction between the US, Iran, and to a lesser extent Saudi Arabia, mainly in the Nixon and early Carter years. There was a very significant geopolitical transion occuring, with the developement of OPEC as a power as the US ceased producing oil and began importing it as progressively greater rates. Iran was using the money to buy weapons and maintain the Shah in power. The Saudis were using the money to buy weapons, and using the oil as a weapon as well. Nixon and Kissenger were trying to fight the cold war, and trying to keep domestic oil prices low at the same time. Needless to say, it was a complex dance, with many unintended consequences. The book is tightly written, with extensive well documented notes. The author has done extensive archival research and conducted numerous interviews with many, but not all of the key player still alive. This is an important story, both with respect to the Middle East today, and with respect to US energy policy. It will be fascinating to anyone interested in the history of US foreign policy, recent Middle Eastern history, or the history of the oil industry. As an aside for those interested, a semi-contiguous and well written book is The End of Energy, by Michael Greatz, which covers US energy policy, especially during this time period.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding, with excellent attribution and superb writing., February 25, 2012
This book is one of the two best I have read in the last year. The author clearly shows how Henry Kissinger was duped by the Shah, and how Kissinger in turn duped Nixon and Ford. The question I had throughout the book was why these guys did not think of "what if? (the Shah were to fall and everything fell apart)" I am a conservative; the author probably is a Democrat (so what?)but what he has put together hits the nail on the head.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars nderstanding events of our times, April 6, 2014
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It is an extremely well researched and written book that makes you live the events of our recent history that lead you to understand the rise in oil prices from the early 70's and its effect on our Middle Eastern relationship.
It is an extremely critical book of the Nixon/ Kissinger period and shows all the damage that they caused our country.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book, March 10, 2014
I am listening to the audio version of this book in my car and I have to be careful not to become so distracted that I miss my exits. Even if you doubt global warming and think gasoline in our water supply tastes good, you should be all for reducing America's dependency on oil just so we don't have to put up with all the drama of the great oil producing nations. Whether in the Middle East, as described in The Oil Kings, or elsewhere.

I hope Mr. Cooper writes a sequel. He is an author I was watch and look forward to his next book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved it, November 28, 2013
By 
April (Jeddah, Saudi Arabia) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Oil Kings: How the U.S., Iran, and Saudi Arabia Changed the Balance of Power in the Middle East (Hardcover)
Highly recommended. Wonderfully written, easy to follow. This book is packed with never before published details regarding behind the scenes machinations of the "real" decision makers during the 70's oil embargo and the events leading up to it. Excellent read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book that explains the mess the US is in today, September 1, 2013
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Great history of America's monogamistic romance with oil producers. Filled with intrigue and action. A real page turner that I couldn't put down. Cooper is an awesome writer.
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The Oil Kings: How the U.S., Iran, and Saudi Arabia Changed the Balance of Power in the Middle East
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