Unless the author(Coll) walks to work, has never been on a boat, plane or train and functions at night by candlelight he needs an attitude adjustment. If written from a slightly less biased perspective this had the potential to be a worthwhile read but the author's obvious underlying anti-oil theme was just too much to take as the story went on. I kept listening hopeful i would at least learn something about the incoming Treasury Secretary Tillerson but nothing really there either. The only part of this story that I enjoyed was the reading by Malcom Hillgartner which was done very well. If you are looking for a Michael Moore/Al Gore view of an oil and gas company's story then this is the book for you.
Find out what Rex Tillerson's career was like before he was tapped to run the State Department. An interesting history of a major corporation and its influence on everything from climate science to human rights. Not exactly a page turner, but I came away feeling like I had learned quite a bit.
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.
Worth The Purchase
The in-depth look at running an oil company. The shear detail was impressive. Furthermore, the geopolitical aspects were explained well. For example, I had no idea of how much assistance Exxon received from the government on international matters. The look into the risk metrics used in the oil industry and the mind numbing lawsuits give me a greater respect for Exxon and "privately run" oil companies in general.
I hope to find more books similar to this one.
Yes, because it provides excellent insight into the complexities of running a major energy company in the 21st Century.
Exxon-Mobil because although it is portrayed as a villian throughout the book, it prevailed in the end!
Mispronounced "Schlumberger" and "Total"
No, it is far too long and too deep
The narrator showed his unfamiliarity with major foreign oil and oil services companies by mispronouncing "Total" as though it were the cereal Total, and misprouncing the last two syllables in "Schlumberger" like those in hamburger.
Well OK the allegations of fraudulent writing are my allegations -but even so my title is literally true. Let me explain. Steve Coll tells us that Hugo Chavez won a referendum "amidst allegations of fraud". Literally true - there were allegations of fraud from his opponents. But would it not have been more truthful to include the fact that the Carter Centre found that the oppositions' allegations were baseless - or to mention that the Carter Center has found Venezuelan elections to be among the most free and accurate they have monitored? Hmmm - you judge my allegations.
Also interesting is that the theme of considerable chapters deals with the dictators of Chad and Equatorial Guinea - the authors perspective seems to be that it is really wrong for them to promise to use oil royalties to help their poor but do not do so. Yet when Hugo Chavez promises to and then actually does just that - he is criticized. The author discusses the pitiful Human Development index for Chad, but, Hmmm, no mention that Chavez's HDI has one of the largest increases in the World and - that under Chavez, poverty has decreased 50% and extreme poverty 67% - with free health care and education. Hmmm perhaps the author doesn't want us to get any ideas... you judge.
But hey - I highly recommend this book - there are many interesting events with interesting details told well - it is a great work of journalism - but keep in mind though that it would seem that Mr Coll, like all western governments and corporations would not really like to eradicate the "resource curse" from the south and that like all history "Private Empire" should be read as a fallible narrative.