Book Review: Private Empire – Exxon Mobil and American Power by Steve Coll

If you were expecting Private Empire, the latest book by two-time Pulitzer Prize winning author Steve Coll, to serve as a hit piece on ExxonMobil (and ‘Big Oil’ in general) you’ll be somewhat disappointed. 

For anyone unfamiliar with his previous work, Steve Coll’s earlier books include the highly recommended Ghost Wars, arguably the definitive geopolitical account of the activities of the CIA and other national intelligence agencies in Afghanistan and Pakistan from the time of the Soviet invasion up to the eve of the 9-11. Ghost Wars won the Pulitzer Prize in 2004 for general non-fiction and was one of the books a newly elected President Barrack Obama was reported to be reading upon entering office.

Steve Coll describes in an interview with Charlie Rose what lead him to want to write Private Empire and how his original idea for the book was to tell a broader story about the oil industry in the style of Daniel Yergin’s The Prize. He soon realised, however, that he needed a central character and Exxon was for him the only logical choice.

 

Continue reading the full book review here.

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