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The Prize: The Epic Quest for Oil, Money, & Power Paperback – January 1, 1993
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A compelling and comprehensive history. . . . [Yergin] writes quiet unexaggerated prose, comprehensible to non-specialists, and artfully manages vast research . . . his narrative proceeds like a developing photograph of our times. -- The New Yorker, Naomi Bliven
Impassioned and riveting...only in the great epics of Homer will readers regularly run into a comparable string of larger-than-life swashbucklers and statesmen, heroes and villains. -- San Fracisco Examiner
Splendid and epic...brilliantly told. -- The Wall Street Journal
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The Prize doubles as both an extremely interesting story and a superb reference thanks to a comprehensive index. My only complaint is that the regional maps are generally sub-par and often don't indicate half the points of interest mentioned in the text. This is merely an annoyance though and doesn't detract much from the experience.
I don't have much else to add. The Prize is written for the layman, so anyone with even a passing interest in the industry ought to check it out. I'm most of the way through the sequel The Quest, which covers the next twenty years or so of history though in quite a different manner and with generally poorer writing in my opinion. The Prize is a must buy!
1853: George Bissel visits oil springs in western Pennsylvania.
1859: "Colonel" Drake drills first well at Titusville.
1861-65: American Civil War.
1870: John D. Rockefeller forms Standard Oil Company.
1872: South Improvement Company stirs war in the Oil Regions. Rockefeller launches "Our Plan".
1873: Baku oil opened to development. Nobel family enters Russian oil business.
1882: Thomas Edison demonstrates electricity. Standard Oil Trust formed.
1885: Rothschilds enter Russian oil business. Royal Dutch discovers oil in Sumatra.
1892: Marcus Samuel sends the Murex through the Suez Canal; beginning of Shell.
1896: Henry Ford builds his first car.
1901: William Knox D'Arcy acquires a concession in Persia. Gusher at Spindletop in Texas; beginning of Sun, Texaco, Gulf.
1902-04: Ida Tarbell's History of Standard Oil Company serialized in McClure's.
1903: Wright Brothers' first flight.
1904-05: Japan defeats Russia.
1905: Revolution of 1905 in Russia; Baku oil fields ablaze. Glenn Pool discovered in Oklahoma.
1907: Shell and Royal Dutch combined under Henri Deterding. First drive-in gasoline station opens in St. Louis.
1908: Discovery of oil in Persia; leads to Anglo-Persian (later British Petroleum).
1910: "Golden Lane" discovered in Mexico.
1911: Agadir Crisis. Churchill becomes First Lord of Admiralty. U.S. Supreme Court orders dissolution of Standard Oil Trust.
1913: Burton "cracking" process for refining patented.
1914: British government acquires 51 percent of Anglo-Persian Oil Company.
1914-18: World War I and mechanization of the battlefield.
1917: Bolshevik Revolution.
1922-28: Negotiation on the Turkish (Iraq) Petroleum Company, leading to the "Red Line Agreement." 1922: Los Barroso discovery in Venezuela.
1924: Teapot Dome scandal erupts.
1928: World oil glut leads to meeting at Achnacarry Castle and "As-Is" agreement. French petroleum law.
1929: Stock market collapse heralds Great Depression.
1930: Dad Joiner's discovery in East Texas.
1931: Japan invades Manchuria.
1932: Discovery of oil in Bahrain.
1932-33: Shah Reza Pahlavi cancels the Anglo-Iranian concession; Anglo-Iranian wins it back.
1933: Franklin Roosevelt becomes President of the United States. Adolf Hitler becomes Chancellor of Germany. Standard of California wins concession in Saudi Arabia.
1934: Gulf and Anglo-Iranian gain joint concession in Kuwait.
1935: Mussolini invades Ethiopia; League of Nations fails to impose oil embargo.
1936: Hitler remilitarizes Rhineland and begins preparations for war, including a major synthetic fuels program.
1937: Japan begins war in China.
1938: Oil discovered in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. Mexico nationalizes foreign oil companies.
1939: World War II begins with German invasion of Poland.
1940: Germany overruns Western Europe. United States puts limits on gasoline exports to Japan.
1941: Germany invades Soviet Union (June). Japanese takeover of Southern Indochina leads United States, Britain and Netherlands to embargo oil to Japan (July). Japan attacks Pearl Harbor (December).
1942: Battle of Midway (July). Battle of El Alamein (September). Battle of Stalingrad (begins November).
1943: The first "fifty-fifty" deal in Venezuela. Allies win Battle of the Atlantic.
1944: Normandy landing (June). Patton runs out of gas (August). Battle of Leyte Gulf, Philippines (October).
1945: World War II ends with defeat of Germany and Japan.
1947: Marshall Plan for Western Europe. Construction begins on Tapline for Saudi oil.
1948: Standard of New Jersey (Exxon) and Socony-Vacuum (Mobil) join Standard of California (Chevron) and Texaco in Aramco. Israel declares independence.
1948-49: Neutral Zone concessions to Aminoil and J. Paul Getty.
1950: Fifty-fifty deal between Aramco and Saudi Arabia.
1951: Mossadegh nationalizes AngloIranian in Iran (first postwar oil crisis). New Jersey Turnpike opens. 1951~53 Korean War.
1952: First Holiday Inn opens.
1953: Mossadegh falls; Shah returns.
1954: Iranian Consortium established.
1955: Soviet oil export campaign begins. First McDonald's opens in suburban Chicago.
1956: Suez Crisis (second postwar oil crisis). Oil discovered in Algeria and Nigeria.
1957: European Economic Community established. Enrico Mattei's deal with the Shah. Japan's Arabian Oil Company wins Neutral Zone offshore concession.
1958: Iraqi revolution.
1959: Eisenhower imposes import quotas. Arab Petroleum Congress in Cairo. Groningen natural gas field discovered in Netherlands. Zelten field discovered in Libya.
1960: OPEC founded in Baghdad.
1961: Iraqi attempt to swallow Kuwait frustrated by British troops.
1965: Vietnam War buildup.
1967: Six Day War; Suez Canal closed (third postwar oil crisis).
1968: Oil discovered on Alaska's North Slope. Ba'thists seize power in Iraq1969: Qaddafi seizes power in Libya. Oil discovered in the North Sea. Santa Barbara oil spill.
1970: Libya "squeezes" oil companies. Earth Day.
1971: Tehran Agreement. Shah's Persepolis celebration. Britain withdraws military force from Gulf.
1972: Club of Rome study.
1973: Yom Kippur War; Arab Oil embargo (fourth postwar oil crisis). Oil price rises from $2.90 per barrel (September) to $11.65 (December). Alaskan pipeline approved. Watergate scandal widens.
1974: Arab Embargo ends. Nixon resigns. International Energy Agency (IEA) founded.
1975: Automobile fuel efficiency standards established in the United States. First oil comes ashore from North Sea. South Vietnam falls to communists. Saudi, Kuwaiti, and Venezuelan concessions come to an end.
1977: North Slope Alaskan oil comes to market. Buildup of Mexican production. Anwar Sadat goes to Israel.
1978: Anti-Shah demonstrations, strikes by oil workers in Iran.
1979: Shah goes into exile; Ayatollah Khomeini takes power. Three Mile Island nuclear plant accident. Iran takes hostages at U. S. Embassy.
1979-81: Panic sends oil from $13 to $34 a barrel (fifth postwar oil crisis).
1980: Iraq launches war against Iran.
1982: OPEC's first quotas.
1983: OPEC cuts price to $29. Nymex launches the crude oil futures contract.
1985: Mikhail Gorbachev becomes leader of Soviet Union.
1986: Oil price collapse. Chernobyl nuclear accident in USSR.
1988: Ceasefire in Iran-Iraq War.
1989: Exxon Valdez tanker accident off Alaska. Berlin Wall falls; communism collapses in Eastern Europe.
1990: Iraq invades Kuwait. UN imposes embargo on Iraq; multinational force dispatched to Middle East (sixth postwar oil crisis).
Read this book for an understanding of how we got through the first 100 years of petroleum dependency.
I originally found out about this book through an Energy Economics course I was taking during my undergrad at Michigan Technological University. The course was a hybrid undergraduate/graduate course, and one of the differentiators was that the graduate students had to read The Prize and write a paper on it.
This book is a must-read for anyone who wants to understand the oil industry, its history, its geopolitics, and how oil has shaped policy and war for the past 100+ years.
Given this book's scholarship, the writing is clear and will likely hold your interest as you become educated about the dominant player in the ubiquitous Energy Industry.
Top international reviews
It is hard to write a history of any industry that is both comprehensive, educational and entertaining. I was surprised how well written and engaging this book is. It is a lot of book however - at over 900 pages and the text is in a fine font. But by the end of it you will know more about oil than most industry participants. It also brings about an understanding of present day politics - for instance it helped me understand why the UK is referred to by Iran as 'Little Satan' (with the US as 'Big Satan').
Some of the trivia that Yergin covers is what makes this book so memorable and entertaining - yet the book also serves a very serious purpose in explaining how the oil industry evolved over more than a century. It is surprisingly easy to read - but due to the sheer size one ideally wants to go through it whilst on the beach for a fortnight!
I still refer to it regularly and it is never far from my desk when I am active in the markets.
It is hard to say something about this book that has not been said in previous Reviews (Apart from those two 3-star rating, which are, in my opinion, irrelevant) But if you are interested in the geopolitics of energy and want to know why we are so dependent on oil this book and its sequel (The Quest) are the two books to be read. Just be prepare to dedicate a good portion of your time to read them, that is why you must be "seriously interested"
All in all this book is an excellent reading, go for it!!!!
A real eye-opener with a fabulous list of A-list stars from the Goldsmiths and Rockefellers to Winston Churchill.
one of the best books i have ever read.