A stunning and revealing examination of oil's indelible impact on the countries that produce it and the people who possess it.

Every unhappy oil-producing nation is unhappy in its own way, but all are touched by the "resource curse"—the power of oil to exacerbate existing problems and create new ones. In Crude World, Peter Maass presents a vivid portrait of the troubled world oil has created. He takes us to Saudi Arabia, where officials deflect inquiries about the amount of petroleum remaining in the country's largest reservoir; to Equatorial Guinea, where two tennis courts grace an oil-rich dictator's estate but bandages and aspirin are a hospital's only supplies; and to Venezuela, where Hugo Chávez's campaign to redistribute oil wealth creates new economic and political crises.

Maass, a New York Times Magazine writer, also introduces us to Iraqi oilmen trying to rebuild their industry after the invasion of 2003, an American lawyer leading Ecuadorians in an unprecedented lawsuit against Chevron, a Russian oil billionaire imprisoned for his defiance of Vladimir Putin's leadership, and Nigerian villagers whose livelihoods are destroyed by the discovery of oil. Rebels, royalty, middlemen, environmentalists, indigenous activists, CEOs—their stories, deftly and sensitively presented, tell the larger story of oil in our time.

Crude World
is a startling and essential account of the consequences of our addiction to oil.


From the Hardcover edition.
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