Private Empire is an excellent investigation of Exxon's (and more recently Exxon-Mobil's) corporate conduct and policies over the last two decades or so. Coll begins with the Valdez spill and offers more of a series of case studies than any continuous history. At times a more detailed backstory of Exxon's pre-1989 development would help, but on the whole Coll's more journalistic approach is effective and interesting.
My only complaint here is the narration - and really it's the trend represented here more than the specific performance I object to. Malcolm Hillgartner's voice is fine, and he generally reads in a clear, expressive manner. But I appeal to him, and to all audiobook producers, to enact a moratorium on foreign accents, at least in nonfiction works. Unless done extremely well, the use of accents to distinguish quotes from speakers of different nationalities is totally distracting - at best comical, at worst borderline offensive. Listening to Vladimir Putin's words (which were spoken in Russian to begin with!) recited in a Bela Lugosi-like "Russian" accent in no way enhances my listening pleasure. Maybe this kind of dramatization is necessary or desirable in narrating works of fiction (though I'd prefer not), but when it's actual historical figures in a work of journalistic reporting, it's just ridiculous. (Ditto w/male narrator's reading women's words in a semi-falsetto. Yuck!)
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