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Private Empire: ExxonMobil and American Power Hardcover – May 1, 2012
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Top Customer Reviews
There is very little devoted to the early history of the company. As we all probably know John D. Rockefeller created the Standard Oil Trust and when it was broken up by the Trust Busters in the early 20th century, one of the spin-offs was the early ancestor to what is now Exxon which eventually combined with Mobil Oil to form ExxonMobil. Rockefeller controlled 14% of the American economy at one point, and oil has remained our dominant energy source ever since.
What a book, what a story for Exxon is the tale of 20th century America and our country's rise to both prominence and dominance in the world both politically and economically. A company so powerful that it considers itself in many ways a state within a state with an internal security force the equivalent of the Secret Service that guards our President. And why not, Exxon has recruited the best of the retired Secret Service agents to develop, install, and maintain a security shield around this company's behavior and its employees.
The book devotes a chapter to the kidnapping and death of Exxon executive Sidney Reso and how CEO Lee Raymond completely revamped the entire company to ensure that it would not happen again.Read more ›
I spent most of the book's 700 pages waiting for The Revelation. The Secret. The...well, anything. This is certainly more the fault of my expectations than any deficiency in the book. But it is odd that the author would have spent such a huge amount of time and energy writing such a detailed book about two decades of ExxonMobil corporate history without a central theme. Maybe I have simply read too many books about the oil industry and spend too much of life reading business newspapers and magazines, but the general tale told in this book is very well known. What is less well known is the details of the various strands of the story, and those strands are told with exquisite detail, well supported by copious footnotes, even though many (most?) of the cited interviews fail to name the individuals cited.
The book starts crisply with a factual description of the hours leading to the Exxon Valdez disaster and ends two decades later with BP's Deepwater Horizon fiasco. In between we are given an inside look at the corporate culture and operating environment of ExxonMobil. The book consists almost entirely of dozens of intimate scenes.Read more ›
Mr. Coll's writing style is easy even when explaining oil extraction methods or the geopolitics of oil and natural gas rights. It reads almost like a suspense novel except that it's all true. And that is what makes it so scary. I found myself turning page after page reeling at my naivete. I think I want to go back to being uninformed. It's a happier state of mind.
Mr. Coll's research for the book was quite extensive and the book is heavily footnoted. He conducted over 400 interviews with people great and small and he weaves what they shared together with facts gathered from all over the world to take the reader on a ride from oil fields to the offices of political power in this country and beyond. It was utterly fascinating to get a peak inside the Borg like culture of Exxon. Tow the company line or find another job.
I have not enjoyed a non fiction book this much in a long, long time. I just wish I wasn't so surprised at what I learned.
ExxonMobil is undoubtedly a corporation to be admired and vilified but the book fails to really commit the reader instead it rather numbed me.Both Raymond and Tilleson, bearing in mind the scale of the operation they ran and the results ExxonMobil consistently produced, must be larger than life characters but this fails to come across and there is an incredible lack of detail about any of the key subordinates who drove the corporation forward. Maybe they are just "men in suits" managing endless Powerpoint presentations but that is difficult to believe.
Should be read but do not expect any real insight.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Hello I'd like to return this book because I bought it by mistake. I hope this can be possible.
Thanks in advance.
Great book with tons of research put into it. Enjoyed the writing style and the way information was presented. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Bronant
I listened to the .mp3 version (I listen to "books on CD" so as take the best advantage of a brutal commute) I just couldn't quite finish it -- I couldn't bring myself to... Read morePublished 4 months ago by Student_of_Life
Private Empire is not a complete history of ExxonMobil nor is it an expose about hidden corporate secrets. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Sean Sheikh
Private Empire provides a very interesting view behind the scene of the world's biggest oil company across the decades. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Gerrit Middelkoop
The book is slightly anti Exxon-Mobil but it's still a good book. Lots of interesting information. Mr Coll did his homework + the study is well-researched. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Tony Meyer
Very helpful in understanding the complexities of the business, especially dealing with other countries and their rulers. Read morePublished 6 months ago by Brent Wallis