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5out of 5

by Wigert on November 29, 2007

Without a real understanding of global oil, it's said, it is next to impossible to understand the world we live in.

Because for the past century, it's been oil even more than money that's made our world go round. And national incomes in many developed countries to go through the roof.

Nobody knows this better than Daniel Yergin, the scholar-author-businessman who is probably the #1 authority on petroleum. In THE PRIZE: THE EPIC QUEST FOR OIL, MONEY & POWER, Yergin has written for us a very lively and very important history.

For instance, the need for massive quanities of oil was a major reason Germany invaded Russia who had the great Baku oilfields.

Likewise, Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor was mostly about oil. Before heading south to seize the Dutch oilfields in Sumatra, they wanted to make sure the U.S. Pacific fleet would be unable to attack Japanese tankers sailing homeward.

In the short run, they succeeded completely. But by the last months of the war, the United States had 75% of the world's oil. And Germany and Japan had virtually none.

So when Speer went to Italy to check on the German army (the first "lightning warfare" guys), he saw a German convoy of 150 trucks being powered by 600 Italian oxen.

And as the 64 largest Japanese cities suffered months of incessant American fire-bombings (petroleum products from the air), the Japanese air force was able to put up virtually no resistence. In fact, B-29 losses were only about one plane per 1,000 sorties.

To make a very long story very short, THE PRIZE is a great read. Not to mention a great re-read or even a great continuous read.

If you're smart, you'll keep a copy of this book in the bathroom, another under your pillow and probably another on your desk.
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