After reading Steve Coll's Ghost Wars, I was anxious to listen to Private Empire. What a total disappointment. His objectivity in the former work was completely absent from Empire. The best description I can provide is "Hatchet Job." According to this work, oil companies, and Exxon in particular, are responsible for all the world's economic and social ills. Part of this impression stems from the performance of the reader. The sarcasm was pervasive. Where possible, Coll also tried to smear government involvement in the oil business, especially where Republican administrations were in play. I would recommend this for fans of Michael Moore. I got the impression Coll was trying to emulate Moore with this book.
An investigation into a giant oil company and the people who run it and how it manages
its public profile and its engagement in places where there is little or no rule of law.
The book does not give answers but it does pose lots of questions.
I had some trepidation about getting this book as it is about that big boogeyman of oil Exxon-Mobil. Nor was I familiar with Coll's writing or journalism either, so that was not something that I could lean on to support a purchase. This book was purchased more or less on whim and a fancy of wanting to know more about oil, energy, and energy policy. I was concerned that this book would be too narrowly focused on Exxon-Mobil and not really inclusive of the industry or energy policy as a whole. I was relieved to find that this was not the case. It is a good primer for both energy policy and the oil industry. The book was illuminating and well done. And by the end I had a respect for Exxon-Mobil that I would have NEVER, EVER thought possible.
Oil is a very dirty business. The stuff is dirty when it comes out of the ground. Exxon's business locations are dirty and out of the way. Sure, every business has its dirty little secrets, but the oil industry affects all of us. A rather long book does not seem so long because the industry is very complicated. Two-sided arguments throughout show that morality can trump business and sometimes business trumps morality.
I really enjoyed listening to this perspective of the oil conglomerates. I found the parts about foreign policies and how they effected countries particularly informative. It was a bit on the long side for listening and I really had to space it out. Dry at times, but very educational.
Artist looking for a way to get to Low Earth Orbit.
For everyone who likes to rail against the most profitable company in the world, Get Informed! Love 'em or Hate 'em this Exxon-Mobile is here to stay, and not only stay, but define our world of energy. This is a spectacular read, full of historical and geographical anecdotes that illuminate the dark icky world of oil.