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Publisher's Summary

Internal Combustion is the compelling tale of corruption and manipulation that subjected the U.S. and the world to an oil addiction that could have been avoided, that was never necessary, and that could be ended not in 10 years, not in five years, but today.

Award-winning author Edwin Black has mined scores of corporate and government archives to assemble thousands of previously uncovered and long-forgotten documents and studies bearing on this dramatic story. He traces a continuum of rapacious energy cartels and special interests dating back nearly 5,000 years, from wood to coal to oil, and then to the bicycle and electric-battery cartels of the 1890s, which created thousands of electric vehicles that plied American streets a century ago. But those noiseless and clean cars were scuttled by petroleum interests, despite the little-known efforts of Thomas Edison and Henry Ford to mass-produce electric cars powered by personal backyard energy stations. Black also documents how General Motors criminally conspired to undermine mass transit in dozens of cities and how Big Oil, Big Corn, and Big Coal have subverted synthetic fuels and other alternatives.

He then brings the story full-circle to present day oil crises, global warming, and beyond. Black showcases the overlooked compressed-gas, electric, and hydrogen cars on the market today, as well as inexpensive all-function home energy units that could eliminate much oil usage. His eye-opening call for a Manhattan Project for immediate energy independence will help energize society to finally take action.

Internal Combustion can change everything, not by reinventing the wheel, but by excavating it from where it was buried a century ago.

©2006 Edwin Black (P)2006 Tantor Media Inc.

Critic Reviews

"Enthralling." (Publishers Weekly)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4 out of 5 stars
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Story

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Sort by:
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

Abridge me please!

If any book I have listened to cries out for abridgement, this is it. Having said that, I think that the reviewers above who bailed out on this tome missed out.

Edwin Black provides a superbly researched (to the extent that you can believe anything that anyone writes) walk through the history of corruption and manipulation of energy production in this world. While I think that we all have a 'bumper sticker awareness' of Standard Oil, GM ruining the trolleys, cartels, antitrust breakups and such, this book gives us the back story on these and many other events that have shaped our current energy situation.

Interestingly, even though he does not try to hide his disdain for all things hydrocarbon and it sure sounds like Mr. Black is a green treehugger, his passion does not overwhelm his story like it would if it had been written by Michael Moore or some correspondent from the Huffington Post.

I am a conservative who totally believes in the free market and this is where he hooked me... by showing how most of the energy problems we now face can be traced back to manipulation of the markets for profit on a grand scale. The question I have (and one he cannot answer) is: are we (as a free market) mature enough in 2008 to make big decisions about what type of energy we want and are willing to pay for, free of manipulation by business OR government?

The final hour or so where he discusses new fuel technologies could stand on its own as an essay, and I found it very valuable. His discussion of Hydrogen fueled vehicles was particularly enlightening, since most of the current popular attention has been drawn toward hybrid or plug-in technology.

I recommend the book if you have 16 hours to spend on it, but since I am a Platinum Subscriber, and this book was only $10 for me, the final hour would have been worth the price of the download.

I think that it could be even more successful if it was re-released as an abridged version.

7 of 8 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Read it and take ACTION!

Edwin Black's intensive research and ability to communicate dry facts and figures in a unique and interesting way made this listen one that was hard to interrupt. In my opinion he takes THE most complicated, critically important issue facing the world today and makes it easy to understand by leading us through oil's historical slippery slope by the hand then up the "other side" of the energy valley. It's a listen that demands personal action! Outstanding! Every engineer, no every American should read or listen to this work!

11 of 13 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars

HORRIBLY Biased and annoying

I have been an audible subscriber for over 10 years and have listened to over 800 books. This really has to be one of the worst books because of its overbearing nature.

I am very much a supporter of Greenpeace and am pro environment but the author clouds good research and information with severly biased barbs. Literally every 10th sentance in this book is a negative comment, insult or criticism of big business or big oil.

I probably would have actually enjoyed the book from all the facinating information and detailed background if the author would have let the facts speak for themselves. The history and background are well researched, unbiased and clearly explained. However, the author has to taint the historical facts with his overbearing opinions to the point of being obnoxious and revolting.

I could not even finish the book because I could not tollerate it. Take heed to the author's own recommendations in the preface of the book: warning to reader, if you can not read this book from cover to cover, then do NOT bother reading this book.

13 of 16 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

Hard to hear the truth ...

This book is accurate and in its accuracy it can be at times difficult to hear the truths presented. I can see how a lot of older readers/listeners can deny these truths at every turn; It's hard for me as a 40 year old to understand why as free citizens we systematically allowed corporate interests to monopolize our entire society over the last 100 years. The good ol' days indeed, hope you enjoyed em' guys!

This book is incredible. 10 stars if I could give them.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Melanie
  • San Jose, CA, USA
  • 07-25-09

WOW.. Wonderful.. Perfect!!!

The best book I have read in years. This is the first book I have written a review for after reading hundreds of books but I finally found a book worth reviewing.

Although you can tell the author is biased (as I am), this book is very factual; my heart aches for our country. Edwin Black has a superior knowledge of the automotive history and political barriers.

I just finished this book and am going to read it again. If you care about the world this book is a must read.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Interesting but heavy-handed in sections

The history in the book is interesting, and I agree with the author on many points. However, in some sections of the book the author applies a rather heavy-handed use of language and "apples to oranges" comparisons in attempting to sway the reader's opinion, which reduced my enjoyment of the book dramatically. The historical facts in the book speak well enough for themselves.

That being said, for those of us rooting for the success of Tesla and other electric cars as well as clean, renewable energy sources, the history in this book is a good cautionary tale.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Middle is middling, but the rest is awesome!

The beginning is full of great info and the end is excellent, the book gets bogged down in the later oil scandals and the removal of electric streetcars.
But it was worth it to get to the hydrogen section.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • L
  • 02-15-07

A little shrill

This book, while interesting, could have used a good editor, chopping out 1/3rd or so of the book. It's hard to make it past the continuous stream of pejoratives. Rather than let the strength of the facts work, he stacks tedious, hyperbolic negative adjectives onto everything: "conspiracy," "imperialist," "blackmail," "cartel," "manipulative," etc., etc.

2 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Robert
  • Trinidad, TX, USA
  • 09-07-08

Too much opinion!

Such strong negative opinion by the author resulted in erasure of the book from my player after a few minutes.

4 of 11 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars

The mind of a watermelon

This book was a fascinating walk through the mind of a watermelon (green on the outside, red on the inside.) If you are into conspiracy theories and hate capitalism, this one's for you!

On the other hand, the author did have some fairly interesting points, particularly on the value of electric trains, etc.

Overall, unless you are really into abnormal psychology, give it a pass.

5 of 14 people found this review helpful