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4.8 out of 5 stars51
4.8 out of 5 stars
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39 of 41 people found the following review helpful
on 8 October 2003
This is a truly amazing book. Certainly, 800 pages of fine print about oil is a lot and this book is no bedtime read. Yet, at the end your only major complaint is likely to be that the story stops at the time of the first Iraq war. Whether your interest is oil, the workings of the business world, diplomacy, American, European or Middle Eastern history, you will find the most fascinating stories in this book. Mr. Yergin shows an amazing breadth and depth whether dealing with power politics, the economics of the oil price or cartel issues and throughout all these subjects the book is evenly paced. The ultimate reason to be fascinated by the book, however, is probably the nagging uneasiness about the future of hydrocarbon man: will the next energy crisis be a lasting one?
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on 30 August 2008
This book informed my thinking on foreign relations like no other. Time and again it makes the link between oil and the involvement of governments in those places where it is found. The book is beautifully written with the first two-thirds reading more like a novel than non-fiction. After reading this book, you will read the news in a different light.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on 16 October 2000
great insight into the history of oil. it eluminates its great importance throughout the 20th cent both politically and links the outcome of some world events with the availability and non availability of oil. i borrowed the book from the library twice but now intend to buy it. it is a fantastic read and ref book.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on 28 February 2012
I would recommend this book to anyone, its great, a real page turner. The three stars is in the context of the other ratings.

However, it does have a few flaws. The first is entirely faultless on the author, the book is 20-30 years old. Whilst it was completed in 1992 and hase a quite recent epilouge, the genesis of the book is clearly the early 80's. The book was clearly researched in the aftermath of the oil shocks of the 1970's and much of the books tone is informed by the impact of the shocks.

Secondly, whilst the book has excellent stuff about the development of oil in the Persian Gulf, its analysis of the relationship between the USA and Saudia Arabia from the 60/70's onwards is farcially thin. Maybe its my own prejudice but thier is no real attempt at an explaintion as to how this crucial relationship in world oil was maintained so well, esp given the obvious potential point of conflict over Israel. The farce is reached when the epilougue talks about 9/11 and omits even the fact that the terrorists were from saudia arabia! Now I dont know anymore than anyone else what the true nature of the relationship is/has been between these two coutries and the people at the top in both coutries, but a lot has been written about it by others and for this book to devote so little to this subject was deeply dissapointing.

Its a real shame as otherwise this book is a tour de force on business and geo-politics. its essential reading for anyone remotely interested in the subject matter. I'd go as far to say you can't have an informed opinion on the relationship between energy, politics and business without having read this book.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on 20 May 2009
Oil doesn't interest me much at all - nor the "quest for power" - but there's a reason this was awarded the Pulitzer. From the opening page this book is unputdownable. Riveting stuff, told superbly.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 24 March 2011
Fantastic read for those who have even the slightest interest in oil.

I recently finished watching the TV series on this, but the book is sooooo much better.

Highly Recommended.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on 30 December 1998
This book is a must read it is superbly written and once you start to read you will never stop .It is the ultimate history of the oil business entwined with 20th century history and all the politics war and intrigue.
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on 15 August 2015
Passion, greed, the pursuit of money, double dealing, lying, cheating, corruption, coups......this book has it all. It may sound like a description of JR Ewing (of Dallas fame) but the real life characters that Daniel Yergin describes are every bit as loud as JR.

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.
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on 24 February 2013
The engaging way this book is written makes it difficult to put aside and carry on with one's daily duties. After reading "The Prize" I have got a far better understanding of the oil industry history, its structure, its evolution, its "heroes and villains", its influence in our lives since 1859, the way its lack of or abundance of changed crucial moments in the last century and a half of human history and much more.
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!!!!
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on 31 August 2015
I can understand why this book won the Pulitzer Prize (way back in 1992), it’s a terrific read that makes the story of oil seem like thrilling stuff, written by a real master. The only drawback is that it was first published in 1991, so it doesn’t cover recent developments, but as a history of the oil age up to that point, it’s unbeatable.
Incidentally, another excellent book I read recently (see my review here Why Things Are Going to Get Worse and Why We Should Be Glad) reckons that oil was the source of around 65% of all wealth in the world today, and that certainly seems plausible from what Yergin tells us in The Prize. Highly recommended.
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