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The Oil Kings: How the U.S., Iran, and Saudi Arabia Changed the Balance of Power in the Middle East Hardcover – August 9, 2011
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—Gary Sick, author of All Fall Down: America’s Tragic Encounter with Iran and former member of the National Security Council
"Adds significant insight to one of the most important periods in the American relationship with petroleum. . . . [The Oil Kings] excels by virtue of focus, discipline, and original research. Supporting his account, Cooper draws from significant sources – most of which were classified until recently – that re-create the personal relationships that proved crucial to world history."
—Brian Black, The Christian Science Monitor
"Relying on a rich cache of previously classified notes, transcripts, cables, policy briefs and memoranda, Cooper explains how oil drove, even corrupted, American foreign policy during a time when Cold War imperatives still applied. . . . The most compelling dimension to Cooper’s narrative is the story of U.S-Iran relations, particularly during the Nixon and Ford administrations. . . . A revelatory, impressive debut."
“As uprisings today rock the Muslim world, with America at war across the region, Andrew Cooper transports us back to where it all began: with the startling diplomatic and military machinations of the seventies, when oil first became a global weapon and the White House was roiled by Vietnam and Watergate. Meticulously researched, vividly told, with an inside-the-room intimacy, The Oil Kings reminds us of the ultimate folly of America’s efforts to dominate world events—especially through its co-dependency with rival petro-states. This is an important and powerful book.”
—Barry Werth, author of 31 Days: The Crisis That Gave Us the Government We Have Today
"Scintillating diplomatic history. . . . Cooper gives a lucid analysis of shifting oil markets and unearths revelations . . . from meticulous research. . . . Its centerpiece is Cooper's superb, lacerating portrait of Henry Kissinger. As the super-diplomat's obsession with great-power rivalries founders in a new world of global economics that he can't fathom, Cooper gives us both a vivid study in sycophancy and backstabbing and a shrewd critique of Kissingerian geo-strategy."
“[Cooper] skillfully mines previously classified documents to make clear that high-profile inmates were running the foreign-policy asylum.”
—Paul Jablow, Philadelphia Inquirer
About the Author
Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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.Read more ›
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Very vivid details on how the Shah of Iran wielded power, made profits off oil, and built himself an arsenal of American weaponry. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
A must read to understanding why America is trying to take over the middle east.Published 2 months ago by Kindle Customer
A must read to understand the current world events, players, and how oil is a major influence in it. Read morePublished 3 months ago by GruntRecon
Oil Kings is very well written and hard to put down. Amazingly detailed. A huge amount of meticulous work went into this book. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Grant
Any serious student of middle eastern history and politics' BS radar is likely to be triggered within the first few pages of Oil Kings, as Cooper constructs his arguments on a... Read morePublished 4 months ago by The Quantum Dointer
First rate - Cooper has done a great job assembling this story (one most of the senior U.S. officials involved seem to have conveniently forgotten in their biographies) of how the... Read morePublished 5 months ago by Eric C. Petersen
The best book I have found on the subject. Absolutely fascinating if you have any interest in US foreign policy/ energy policy and the intricacies that twine them together.Published 6 months ago by Christian C. Hillin
Insightful with lots of emphasis given on the credibility of the sources used. It gives us a great understanding on the relation between the west and oil exporting countries during... Read morePublished 6 months ago by Khaldoon Alateeqi
those of us who lived through the troubling times of the Nixon Administrations can now understand how how tricky, Dick really was. Read morePublished 7 months ago by Amazon Customer