• The First Billion is the Hardest

  • Reflections on a Life of Comebacks and America's Energy Future
  • By: T. Boone Pickens
  • Narrated by: Arthur Morey
  • Length: 8 hrs and 8 mins
  • 4.3 out of 5 stars (526 ratings)

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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 listeners say about The First Billion is the Hardest

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

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 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars

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.

7 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

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 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars

Seems like he got lucky in the end and called it skill

I had just finished “I Love Capitalism” and decided another book by an 80-something Billionaire would be great. I loved the Capitalism book, so I thought I’d give the late T. Boone Pickens book a shot.
The contract was stark. Pickens seems arrogant and insecure. I listened to the entire book and the further I got into it, the more it appeared he just got lucky. Which is fine, I’m not hating on a bit of luck. But to write a book about how you came to your success, that’s not a good bet for the rest of us to follow.
By the end of the book it became clear this guy wrote this book as a means of promoting Wind and Solar energies, something he was heavily invested in at the time.
The book read well, had some good parts like any book. His arrogance just didn’t sit well with me.
FYI he also positioned himself in the book to have refined the “hostile takeover” maneuvers we see in today’s market. I respect the technique but not the man that uses them.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

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 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

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 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

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 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars

Don’t wait to read this one.

Great book, better story. I’m not in oil or energy, but this doesn’t matter. Boone Pickens is a business genius and this information is applicable to everyone.

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    5 out of 5 stars

If u are into bis and fin world this is 5 star

Great description of acquisition in his business. How Mr. Pickens grew his company and billions? What is US energy problem? and a lot more is in the book. Loved it a lot.

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    5 out of 5 stars

Great book

Great audio book. Easy to listen to. It was very informative and full of life wisdom