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The First Billion is the Hardest: Reflections on a Life of Comebacks and America's Energy Future | [T. Boone Pickens]

The First Billion is the Hardest: Reflections on a Life of Comebacks and America's Energy Future

From a businessman who is extraordinarily humble yet is considered one of the world's most visionary, The First Billion Is the Hardest is both a riveting account of a life spent pulling off improbable triumphs and a report back from the front of the global energy and natural-resource wars - of vital interest to anyone who has a stake in America's future.
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Publisher's Summary

Now 80 years old, T. Boone Pickens is a legendary figure in the business world. Known as the "Oracle of Oil" because of his uncanny ability to predict the direction of fuel prices, he built Mesa Petroleum, one of the largest independent oil companies in the United States, from a $2,500 investment. In the 1980s, Pickens became a household name when he executed a series of unsolicited buyout bids for undervalued oil companies, in the process reinventing the notion of shareholders' rights. Even his failures were successful in that they forced risk-averse managers to reconsider the way they did business.

When Pickens left Mesa at age 68 after a spectacular downward spiral in the company's profits, many counted him out. Indeed, what followed for him was a painful divorce, clinical depression, a temporary inability to predict the movement of energy prices, and the loss of 90 percent of his investing capital. But Pickens was far from out.

From that personal and professional nadir, Pickens staged one of the most impressive comebacks in the industry, turning his investment fund's remaining $3 million into $8 billion in profit in just a few years. That made him, at age 77, the world's second-highest-paid hedge fund manager. But he wasn't done yet. Today, Pickens is making some of the world's most colossal energy bets. If he has his way, most of America's cars will eventually run on natural gas, and vast swaths of the nation's prairie land will become places where wind can be harnessed for power generation. Currently no less bold than he was decades ago when he single-handedly transformed America's oil industry, Pickens is staking billions on the conviction that he knows what's coming. In this book, he spells out that future in detail, not only presenting a comprehensive plan for American energy independence but also providing a fascinating glimpse into key resources such as water - yet another area where he is putting billions on the line.

©2008 T. Boone Pickens; (P)2008 Random House Audio

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.0 (174 )
5 star
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  •  
    Eric Omaha, NE, USA 10-20-08
    Eric Omaha, NE, USA 10-20-08
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "A Guide for a U.S. National Energy Policy."

    Overall this was a very informative book for anyone interested the future of the U.S. as a world power. There's something for everyone in here. Some of the more interesting topics covered where: big oil, natural gas, commodities trading, building a business from the ground up, leadership, taking risks, having a plan, many 'Boon-isms', taking care of yourself and leaving a legacy. Of course you'll learn a tremendous amount what makes T. Boone tick. If you are following the energy crisis (which could be a bigger issue than the housing and financial crisis), renewables, global warming, or the Pikens Plan, you'll learn a lot in this book. The only negative I found where a few of the statistics. I thought they may have been stretched to play on your emotion. That said, I found most of the stats to be well researched and backed up with credible sources.

    8 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mike 06-21-09
    Mike 06-21-09 Member Since 2008
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    "Great personal story"

    This is a story of a guy who didn't know how to quit. This was one of the more interesting accounts of business success I've heard.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Dan Edmond, OK, USA 12-29-08
    Dan Edmond, OK, USA 12-29-08
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    "The Energy Industry"

    I enjoyed this personal account that covered a lifetime in the industry. The dates, names of people and places, and discrete conversations made each recollection seem like is just happened yesterday. I also found the hindsight to be critical yet produce a learning point.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Andy Westport, CT, United States 12-19-08
    Andy Westport, CT, United States 12-19-08 Member Since 2002
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    "egocasting at its worst"

    I was hoping to hear an inspiring story from a captain of industry and an expert on energy. What I heard was an unabashed review of "Boonisms" that were clearly self serving towards helping Mr. Pickens strut his stuff. Even on energy, all he was doing was pitching the listener on replacing gasoline with natural gas, which he sells! In my opinion, this book was an entire waste of time.

    5 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Al San Francisco, CA 12-27-13
    Al San Francisco, CA 12-27-13 Member Since 2009
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    "Excellent book on how to succed in business"

    This is a great book on the success and how one bounces back from failures in life. A must read on strength of character and on coming back.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mike Houston, TX, United States 12-21-12
    Mike Houston, TX, United States 12-21-12 Member Since 2012
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    "Pickens Energy policy alone is worth it"
    If you could sum up The First Billion is the Hardest in three words, what would they be?

    Great business story and his ups and downs. His energy policy outline makes all the sense and our dependence on foreign oil expands that catch phrase. Interesting that he mentions all presidential candidates refer to getting the US less dependent on foreign oil and never layout a plan. I was listening to this as Romney and Obama were doing just that! He has a really sound plan and should be appointed energy secretary of the US and get us moving in that direction. The US has real problems in the near future if something isn't done.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kelly Shipp Conway, AR USA 02-15-11
    Kelly Shipp Conway, AR USA 02-15-11 Member Since 2007
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    "More than financials..."

    I'm typically skeptical of financial books, but I must admit, I enjoyed listening to this book. The various tips ("Boone-isms") and humor make it enjoyable. It's a great story of his life, struggles and successes -- all from his point of view.
    I recommend it.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Dan Fairfax, VA, United States 02-10-11
    Dan Fairfax, VA, United States 02-10-11
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    "Not for most ppl."

    I think Mr. Pickens wrote this book with himself as the target audience. It's kind of jumbly and sounds like it's written by a really old man. (sorry but he really is old) Much of the book is dedicated to his business strategy which is not really applicable to most ppl who earn less than $30million a year.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    10-13-08
    10-13-08 Member Since 2005
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    "A really great book"

    This is a really great book. T. Boone is a fasinating personality and has a great history. The book is very readable and does honor to the man. A definite MUST READ.

    2 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kevin Twin Falls, ID, USA 10-20-08
    Kevin Twin Falls, ID, USA 10-20-08
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Interesting Bio"

    T. Boone Pickens story is inspiring. There's still hope to become a billionaire. This is a timely book and pertains to now. Get it read it and share it.

    1 of 3 people found this review helpful
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