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Internal Combustion: How Corporations and Governments Addicted the World to Oil and Derailed the Alternatives Hardcover – April 30, 2008

4.3 out of 5 stars 50 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Black (IBM and the Holocaust) spins the history of oil's ascendancy to dominance over the global energy market into a sordid tale of conspiracy, deception and murder. This enthralling book begins in the vast forests of Cyprus, whose wood fueled the ancient Mediterranean, and extends through the Elizabethan era, in which the Hostmen guild of Newcastle exerted political influence by monopolizing the British coal supply. The central thread of this well-researched book, which draws upon a vast array of archival sources and an extensive list of secondary texts, picks up centuries later with the competition in the American automotive market between electric power and oil-fueled internal combustion. The definitive blow in favor of oil comes with WWI, which prompted increased demand for gas-powered vehicles at the very moment Thomas Edison and Henry Ford aborted plans to develop an affordable electric car. The decades-long "General Motors conspiracy" solidifies the demise of electrically powered mass transit in American cities. Through it all, Black manages to keep this complex history compelling. By the time the author makes his final, impassioned plea for a bold new solution to the world's energy crisis, he has already made his case with devastating clarity. (Oct.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

"By the time the author makes his final, impassioned plea for a bold new solution to the world's energy crisis, he has already made his case with devastating clarity." --"Publishers Weekly "(starred review)


A PAGE TURNER As usual, Edwin Black puts all his readers in his debt by his lucid, dramatic and thought-provoking discoveries. Internal Combustion is a story that should be read by everyone concerned about the strange realities of our modern world. An indispensable contribution to the story of oil and travel: the twin pillars of our modern dilemma. A true page turner. --Martin Gilbert, author A History of the Twentieth Century, Churchill: A Life and First World War

EXPLOSIVE. Edwin Black has produced an explosive, eye-opening exposé of the corporate forces that have for more than a century sabotaged the creation of alternative energies and vehicles in order to keep us dependent on oil. There is enough truth in this book to revolutionize our way of life. --Max Wallace, author American Axis: Henry Ford, Charles Lindbergh, and the Rise of the Third Reich
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Dialog Press (April 30, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0914153110
  • ISBN-13: 978-0914153115
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.4 x 9.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (50 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #901,722 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

A Kid's Review on September 15, 2006
Format: Hardcover
All summer long I saw stories about gas prices and automobile troubles on a daily basis in the newspapers and on television. This left me troubled and frustrated about the problem that lied ahead for my generation. After reading Internal Combustion, this issue suddenly made sense. From a historical context, the events that led us up to our current chaos were deeply illustrated and it felt like I was a part of the story. Never before have I read such a thoroughly researched, intimately developed and page-turning thriller. I recommend this book to anyone to better understand the complex world that we live in, grasp the dynamics of this debate and grab the key's to our own future. This book has helped me do all of that and I am thankful to Edwin black for writing the story of our time. I promise you won't regret buying it for yourself!
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Format: Hardcover
A while back an old sage once answered an economical question I had with this, "An economy based on WASTE". But he said it with a disgust I never quite understood. UNTIL NOW. And it is in book form, written by a very skilled writer, Edwin Black (eight Pulitzers and two National Book Award Nominations). Researched to an nth'degree, 19 pages of acknowledgements!. Many, many fascinating tidbits such as the word car that started out as horseless carraige to carraige to car for short. Or the red flag laws where a man had to run ahead of the car waving a red flag & blowing a horn to warn all in the cars path. It loaded with interesting stories and facts you've never heard of. The story about GM destroying the mass electric transit/cars in the U.S.- is alone worth the price. Very well written and informative, as in: "A century of lies about internal combustion arising from a millennium of monopolistic misconduct in energy has wounded the world's collective health, fractured a fragile enviroment, and ignighted a deadly petropolitical war that has become nothing less than a cataclysmic clash of civilizations." Or,"Internal combustion kills. Few of us realize that as we drive to non-smoking restaurants, everyone around us is inhaling gases as deadly as that in any cigarette". Or, "The implication was that in the thirties and forties, at a time when GM was undermining American transport and urban mass transit, the bus and auto giant was doing all in its power to enhance Reich transport". Or, "The single most fuel-inefficient undertaking on earth is arguably the heavily armed military convoy escorting oil tanker trucks in Iraq. More petroleum is undoubtedly consumed to protect the delivery than is carried in the tanker itself". Or that 'it takes 1.Read more ›
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Format: Hardcover
This new Black gem is typical Edwin - a boldly written page-turner brightly illuminating past misdeeds and miscreants as an important lesson for the future. As with his past books, IC features Black's trademark meticulous, well-referenced original research that draws upon previously unseen records and collections, such as the judge's hand-written notes from the GM conspiracy trial.

In this latest investigation, Black goes back thousands of years, telling the history of fuel use and cartels, bringing life to mostly forgotten events. Black not only brings life to these events, but shows how enthralling well-told history can be.

IC then moves to the real meat, the saga of the bad boys of bicycles, electric vehicles, and the internal combustion engine. Black gives life to great names of the past - Edison and Ford, among others. The telling is vivid - one can picture the massive and suspicious fire that destroyed Edison's facilities and the electric future that went with those facilities.

Along with the book's heroes - people like Edison and Ford and companies like Honda - are the goats, like GM. Black meticulously dissects their activities in unravelling the electric trolley system - in a line by line, document by document, action by action telling of their massive conspiracy that is impossible to put down. (Flak jackets optional!)

After whacking the ethanol industry, Black identifies the transportation fuel of the future as being hydrogen, made from renewable sources such as solar and wind. Not suprisingly, Black's corporate hero for the future is Honda. And in an extremely insightful assessment, Black lauds Honda not only for their work on fuel cell vehicles, but more importantly, their Home Energy Center that is now in development.
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Format: Hardcover
Having grown up in Los Angeles, I remember the fun of riding the red electric street car as a small child over 60 years ago. I watched as the system was replaced by a maze of freeways and the concomittant development, changing a great landscape into what has become known as Californication. After reading this book, now I know how and why it happened. Black writes convincingly of the greed that has dictated public energy policy over the past 100 years and brought us to our present sorry state of affairs with pollution, global warming, and oil dependency. While some of the conspiracy implications may not be proven in this book, there is no denying the consequences of our energy history. I found the book a thoughtful, well researched and well written presentation of this history. It was an enjoyable if disturbing read.
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