Long, but soooooo good Lots of people write books like How Soccer Explains the World, which you read and think, That was cute, but soccer doesn t ACTUALLY explain the world The thing is, to hear Yergin tell it, oil actually DOES explain the world, at least for the last 150 years, and I believe him Extremely well researched and written, but also surprisingly lively and imbued with humor as well Kudoes to Yergin for doing so well with a topic that s potentially so dry It won the 1992 Pulitzer Prize, btw If you can carve out the time over a month or so to make your way all the way through the 800 pages, it s well worth it. Really great history of the middle east and oil exports It s so easy to forget how shocking the embargos and the price rises were in the US and how political the issue of oil became here It s still the case that oil prices are indicators, but they ve come under control I wonder if the cost has been worth it Sanctions on Iran, buddying up with the Saudis, endless war Seems like American and Middle Eastern politics would be a lot less heated if we could all find a different way to run our machines. Be warned that Yergin is an apologist for Oil companies and doesn t have a critical word to say about capitalism in this 800 page plus book.Nevertheless, I consider this a must read I read it twice First, Yergin writes like a journalist so the reading goes quickly and well More important, this is a comprehensive and thorough history of the commodity oil When you review the history of the 20th century from the lens of oil, many things change and everything deepens The chapters on WWII are spectacular Yergin shows that much of the strategy of all sides was getting access to oil fields In addition this is the book that got me to take global warming seriously Not that this was Yergin s intent.Finally, there some good theoretical material here as well The particularities of the commodity are grounded on the fact that right from the start of oil s history, the problem for capitalists is that there is too much oil Yergin thus confirms over and over what Timothy Mitchell argues in his article McJihad that a glut of oil necessitates the creation of cartels that can reduce the quantity of oil on the world market Only reduced quantities can sustain profits See A Century Of War Anglo American Oil Politics and the New World Order by F William Engdahl, who argues that this is way the creation of OPEC was okayed by oil corporations and the US government This can be a mind blowing read if you can filter out Yergin s glorification of oil capitalists as individuals and as a collectivity Ironically, Yergin does not argue for free markets because this would mean an oil glut, low oil prices, and limited profits for oil companies What this teaches us is that corporations and their spokespersons are too smart to promote free market ideology in their plans and actions but smart enough to spout that as their rhetoric Corporate socialism that is what a cartel is, no for the super rich and free markets for the rest of us In this sense, Yergin is the honest voice of oil corporations He argues for the all the good oil companies create even if that means that they have to violate free market ideology. Aaaand time Take that, Prize After a mere 2 full months, about 8 flights, and at least 2 pounds of lean muscle mass added from lifting this tome, I have finally taken down The Prize Mr Yergin, you are the definition of a worthy adversary, akin to the man in the black pajamas or the value menu at Jack in the Box.The Prize is a book that, upon completion, made me feel completely ridiculous for ever having an opinion on anything literally, anything without this base collection of knowledge We live in the Age of Oil and, as such, this history of oil becomes the history of the world as we know it From the World Wars to the oil crisis to the constant flux of oil prices, Yergin dives into the truth behind this complex and critical phenomena in a way that is completely engaging and rife with amusing detail.There is far too much information to summarize in a review, so I won t even attempt, but I will say that the first half of the book was the most entertaining The explosion of oil exploration with the law less, wildcatting passion of the fortune seeking oil men was incredible to read about and contrast with the nationalized, highly bureaucratic oil industry today Then to see this era capped by the World Wars and oil s scale tipping effects was riveting in a patriotic way At one point, I definitely started chanting USA USA under my breath in a Seattle restaurant Happy Hour is dangerous.The critical relationship between access to oil and national security not to mention preservation of way of life is a theme throughout The Prize As I read on, I had an interesting thought Back when the Iraq War the most recent one was at its controversial apex, I remember people screaming things along the lines of this war is only about oil and things of that nature I don t have any interest in getting into the question of whether or not that war was justified, but let s just say for a second that those people were right, and that war was about oil Is that an inherently bad or immoral reason for a war Oil is the key to our way of life Revolutions and wars tend to happen when one group s way of life is threatened or restricted in reality or simply perception by another I don t know the answer, but the thought was interesting.It is a daunting task, without question, but I assure you this book is worth the time If anyone does decide to pick it up, I recommend grabbing a copy with the updated epilogue, where Daniel Yergin discusses everything that s happened in the last 20 years It s not as detailed as the rest of the book, but his insight is still appreciated Good luck to you all If you need me, I ll be at Jack in the Boxperhaps a formidable adversary after all. The title is a little misleading, as this is not a book about an epic quest for oil itself, but rather a description of the oil price and what caused the fluctuations It also gives some insight in the way how the relation between the imperial powers and the oil producing nations changed during time From having no say about their oil to actually owning the oil revenues and penetrating the Western markets higher and higher up the supply chain Although the book is outdated it ends with the first Gulf War I gained some valuable insights. An excellent and entertaining book on 150 years history of Oil and its impact on history. 750 pages of pretty dense prose, originating in Pennsylvania, spanning the globe you ll come out knowing than you did going in about venezuela, bahrain, and azerbaijan and ending on the shiite plains of iraq s central euphrates region in 1991 an epilogue addresses the period ending in the second gulf war, but is cursory at best characters of all ethnicity and nomenclature enter, live for a few pages, and then exit, sometimes referred to again fifty pages later switches from backroom industry intrigue to global strategic strategy to wildcat drillers from chapter to chapter.most striking was the lesson yergin drills home oil is a strategic asset, unlike most commodities, and thus governments can t ignore it the american military is the strongest in the world, but it runs on oil military operations require tremendous drawdowns of stocks, and the ability to move them power projection, barring nuclear weapons, is limited by where one can deliver oil, and the bandwidth of that delivery without oil, your nuclear powered carriers can get somewhere, but your planes can t fly your trucks can t move materials, your tanks can t roll, and your men are stuck walking my conclusion our operations in the middle east were most certainly about oil, but not about oil company profits as so often accused if we don t invade iraq, and it keeps kuwait, and prices skyrocket as a result, oil companies pass those costs on and do just fine it s the military that eats it keeping oil prices at historic lows for a decade may well have offset the cost of the first gulf war i have done no analysis , especially if a major military adventure had cropped up.also interesting was the desire of governments, even net importers like the united states, to keep oil prices above some minimum what is that minimum the cost of producing economically effective domestic oil otherwise, one s domestic exploration and production infrastructure goes to seed as cheaply produced foreign oil swamps the market you need that domestic production to buffer yourself against sudden foreign supply problems, even if it means oil is expensive on average.towards the end, he got into how the futures markets allow further buffering and hedging, at least via displacement in time, but the treatment was at a very high level and didn t satisfy me.small details, easy to miss, are deadpanned and hilarious did you know saddam s maternal uncle and father in law what wrote a pamphlet entitled Three Whom God Should Not Have Created Persians, Jews, and Flies i didn t, and my life is better for knowing it now.worth reading, but damn it was long. The measure of success of any democratically elected government in India for a common citizen does not hinge on developmental plans, economic indicators or the advances in diplomacy It dwells almost singly on the price of a single commodity oil, the fluctuations of which can wreak havoc on the fiscal management of an average Indian household Time and again, history has proved that many a voter comes to a conclusion on who to vote for by taking a look at their stance on the price of oil As an interesting aside, consider this the title of a book by Neil MacGregor was The history of the world in 100 objects but this can very well be reapplied to Daniel Yergin s book as The history of the world in 1 object Oil Starting from the 1800 s and ending post Operation Desert Storm, this book is a sweeping epic about the one single commodity which can literally bring the world to a standstill if choked off The initial stages in the life of oil were neither interesting nor earth shattering From a rather tiny whimper in the American wilderness, oil soon gained momentum and roared into the minds of the public with the advent of motorized transportation In these first stages, oil did not acquire the position of global significance but the balance slowly started shifting in its favour following WWI The best parts of this book are the chapters on WWII and how much the war was really about control over oil Behind the larger than life figures and the frenzied battles, whoever had control over fuel for the vehicles was the one who won the war The most hard hitting parts of the narrative are the struggles Japan had to go through as their fuel supplies ran out and George Patton s unforgiving minute during the final offensive on Germany The only description for the chapter on WWII would be to call it splendid The slow evolution of oil into a global power centre was also the time of the decline and the fall of the British Empire Into the vacuum stepped in the Americans and the USSR and here was also when the first prospects of oil came into being in the middle east The world order has since then undergone a lot of breaking and remoulding with oil remaining the one bargaining chip, incentive and choke hold all rolled into one which the middle east has wielded time and again If we go by Yergin s narrative then we also see oil s evolution in roughly the below format Do we really need it Stage 1 Look at all the money Rockefeller is making Stage 2 He cannot have all this money alone, bring him down and let us on the bandwagon too Stage 3 WAR Stage 4 WAR again Oh and while we are at it, goodbye British Empire Stage 4 Hello Saudi and Kuwait and Iran and Iraq and Libya and Algeria and Nigeria and Stage 5 Arab Nations What is Israel doing here and are you helping them huh America Ummmm well Stage 6 Ohhhh look at all the price rises in Oil We are rich Oil producers and exporters We are screwed Western Governments Stage 7 Let s form an old boys club Petroleum Exporting Nations Stage 8 The Shah or the Ayatollah Stage 9 Let s catch Saddam Hussein Stage 10While the book has excellent content in terms of understanding the history of oil, the tone is unmistakably capitalistic Barring a few notes here and there, Yergin does not criticize the oil majors read Exxon, Chevron, Texaco, Mobil, BP and Shell The view point is mostly from the lofty heights of the corporate board rooms or the hallowed halls of policy making Yergin also adopts a storytelling which has a very readable and journalistic touch wherein the focus is on the individuals surrounding the oil than the other way around Another interesting thing is that the entire history of oil is a history of men Barring Ida Tarbell and Margaret Thatcher, there is not even a single woman in the entire 1000 page narrative.Alternate and viable fuels might come up in the future but until then ..ours is a civilization that has been transformed by the modern and mesmerizing alchemy of petroleum This is what has made it the age of oil Highly recommended but be warned that this book will be a huge investment of your time and effort and it is also unabashedly capitalistic Note I must say that it failed to answer my most important question Why do oil prices still keep rising even when the price of crude oil goes down The Prize Recounts The Panoramic History Of Oil And The Struggle For Wealth And Power That Has Always Surrounded Oil This Struggle Has Shaken The World Economy, Dictated The Outcome Of Wars, And Transformed The Destiny Of Men And Nations The Prize Is As Much A History Of The Twentieth Century As Of The Oil Industry Itself The Canvas Of History Is Enormous From The Drilling Of The First Well In Pennsylvania Through Two Great World Wars To The Iraqi Invasion Of Kuwait And Operation Desert Storm I read this book and the impression it left with me when I read in the 1990s that oil was a crucial but highly problematic resource I learned that our modern world was deeply dependent on this resource and money and power flow from the control of it Global Warming was not as prominent an issue but future depletion and geopolitical tensions generated by Oil were obvious even then This book covers the history of this resource which today still is the main driver of today s geopolitics Imagine this book be written in the wake of Two wars in Iraq, Russia and Venezuela, and Mexico, Nigeria In addition, the danger of burning hydrocarbons that threatens our survivability on this planet due to greenhouse emissions I imagine a revision of this book in regards to our present circumstance would be dynamite if we knew the dirty deals of the present.
Daniel Yergin is the author of the new bestseller The Quest Energy, Security, and the Remaking of the Modern World which has been hailed as a fascinating saga about the quest for sustainable resources of energy, and the book you must read to understand the future of our economy and our way of life, not to mention necessary reading for C.E.O s, conservationists, lawmakers, generals, spies,
- 885 pages
- The Prize: The Epic Quest for Oil, Money & Power
- Daniel Yergin
- 20 September 2018 Daniel Yergin