Private Empire: ExxonMobil and American Power

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Private Empire: ExxonMobil and American Power

Format:  Hardcover,

685 pages

Publisher: Penguin Group USA

Publish Date: May 2012

ISBN-13: 9781594203350

ISBN-10: 1594203350

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The following content was provided by the publisher.
Winner of the Financial Times and Goldman Sachs Business Book of the Year Award 2012
An "extraordinary" and "monumental" expose of Big Oil from two-time Pulitzer Prize winner Steve Coll ("The Washington Post")
In "Private Empire "Steve Coll investigates the largest and most powerful private corporation in the United States, revealing the true extent of its power. ExxonMobil's annual revenues are larger than the economic activity in the great majority of countries. In many of the countries where it conducts business, ExxonMobil's sway over politics and security is greater than that of the United States embassy. In Washington, ExxonMobil spends more money lobbying Congress and the White House than almost any other corporation. Yet despite its outsized influence, it is a black box.
"Private Empire" pulls back the curtain, tracking the corporation's recent history and its central role on the world stage, beginning with the "Exxon Valdez "accident in 1989 and leading to the "Deepwater Horizon" oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010. The action spans the globe, moving from Moscow, to impoverished African capitals, Indonesia, and elsewhere in heart-stopping scenes that feature kidnapping cases, civil wars, and high-stakes struggles at the Kremlin. At home, Coll goes inside ExxonMobil's K Street office and corporation headquarters in Irving, Texas, where top executives in the "God Pod" (as employees call it) oversee an extraordinary corporate culture of discipline and secrecy.
The narrative is driven by larger than life characters, including corporate legend Lee "Iron Ass" Raymond, ExxonMobil's chief executive until 2005. A close friend of Dick Cheney's, Raymond was both the most successful and effective oil executive of his era and an unabashed skeptic about climate change and government regulation.. This position proved difficult to maintain in the face of new science and political change and Raymond's successor, current ExxonMobil chief executive Rex Tillerson, broke with Raymond's programs in an effort to reset ExxonMobil's public image. The larger cast includes countless world leaders, plutocrats, dictators, guerrillas, and corporate scientists who are part of ExxonMobil's colossal story.
The first hard-hitting examination of ExxonMobil, "Private Empire "is the masterful result of Coll's indefatigable reporting. He draws here on more than four hundred interviews; field reporting from the halls of Congress to the oil-laden swamps of the Niger Delta; more than one thousand pages of previously classified U.S. documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act; heretofore unexamined court records; and many other sources. A penetrating, newsbreaking study, "Private Empire "is a defining portrait of ExxonMobil and the place of Big Oil in American politics and foreign policy.


Publisher: Penguin Group USA
Publish Date: May 2012
ISBN-13: 9781594203350
ISBN-10: 1594203350
Format: Hardcover
Number of Pages: 685
Shipping Weight (in pounds): 2.25
Product in Inches (L x W x H): 6.2 x 1.6 x 9.4

Chapter outline

List of Maps
Author's Note
Selected Cast Of Characters
Prologue. "I'm Going to the White House on This
The End of Easy Oil
One Right Answer
Iron Ass
Is the Earth Really Warming?
Do You Really Want Us as an Enemy?
Unknown Injury
E.G. Month!
The Camel and the Jackal
We Target Oil Companies
Real Men-They Discover Oil
It's Not Quite as Bad as It Sounds
The Haifa Pipeline
How High Can We Fly?
Assisted Regime Change
Informed Influentials
The Risk Cycle
On My Honor
Chad Can Live Without Oil
I Pray for Exxon
We Will Need Witnesses
The Cash Waterfall
Can't the C.I.A. and the Navy Solve This Problem?
A Person Would Have to Eat More Than 3,400 Rubber Ducks
We Must End the Age Of Oil
Are We Out? Or In?
It's Not My Money to Tithe
We're Confident You Can Book the Reserves
One Plus One Has Got to Equal Three
It Just Happened


Review by Library Journal (2012-05-15)

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Coll (Ghost Wars) combines a corporate history of the world's biggest energy company with a survey of energy geopolitics. He begins with the Exxon Valdez oil spill in 1989, suggesting that the ongoing public criticism it generated fostered a corporate culture that is conservative, defensive, highly disciplined, and focused on cost and efficiency. While Coll covers corporate leadership and the Mobil and XTO mergers, he concentrates on the company's relentless pursuit of replacement oil reserves, its tactics to mitigate threats from environmentalism and alternative fuels, and its attempts to influence government policy.

He follows the company's maneuvers in politically unstable parts of the world such as Africa and Indonesia and shows how it has coped with nationalism in Russia and Venezuela. He closes with BP's Deepwater Horizon debacle and a summary of where the United States stands today with regard to the environmental and economic costs of fossil fuel dependency.

Verdict: In a very long work, Coll manages to keep his text clear, informative, and at times riveting. Highly recommended for students of the energy economy as well as for motivated general readers.

[See Prepub Alert, 11/21/11.] - Lawrence Maxted, Gannon Univ., Erie, PA

(c). Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Awards and Recognitions

  • National Book Critics Circle Awards, 2012 (United States)
  • Los Angeles Times Book Prizes, 2012 (United States)

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