Black Gold: The Story of Oil in Our Lives
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Black Gold: The Story of Oil in Our Lives

3.75 of 5 stars 3.75  ·  rating details  ·  92 ratings  ·  30 reviews
Oil is not pretty, but it is a resource that drives the modern world. It has made fortunes for the lucky few and provided jobs for millions of ordinary folks.

Thick and slippery, crude oil has an evil smell. Yet without it, life as we live it today would be impossible. Oil fuels our engines, heats our homes, and powers the machines that make the everyday things we take for...more
Hardcover, 192 pages
Published January 10th 2012 by Knopf Books for Young Readers (first published January 1st 2012)
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The subject is petroleum, from history to the search for alternative energy sources. Many little-known facts are included. For example, during WWII only the US had developed 100 octane fuel, which gave a decisive advantage to Allied fighter planes.
The book’s errors in science create confusion and misconceptions that students may carry into report writing. Citing no reference, page 131 claims that dispersants used on the Deepwater Horizon oil spill “are 10,000 times deadlier to sea life than crud...more
Richie Partington
Richie's Picks: BLACK GOLD: THE STORY OF OIL IN OUR LIVES by Albert Marrin, Knopf, January 2012, 192p., ISBN: 978-0-375-86673-9

"And with the radio blasting
Goes cruising just as fast as she can now
And she'll have fun, fun fun
'Till her daddy takes the T-Bird away"
-- Brian Wilson & Mike Love, "Fun Fun Fun"

"Asphalt also helped the dead 'live' forever. Ancient Egyptians believed in life after death. But to gain eternal life, a corpse had to be mummified--that is, embalmed and dried to prevent dec...more
Amy Lignor
As we all know, oil has been a benefit to this world, while at the same time being the cause of some of the worst nightmares, wars, and agony that we’ve ever seen. In many ways, most people on this planet wish that oil had never been found; if so, perhaps we would not be in the situation economically or socially that we are in right now.

In this new work of nonfiction, the author has provided everything from the very beginnings of oil to how this substance has saved lives, taken lives, and how th...more
Bethany Miller
Black Gold explores the significance of oil in the lives of humans. The author begins by explaining how fossil fuels were formed. He then traces the use of fossil fuels from antiquity to the present showing how humans have become increasingly dependent upon them over time. Marrin places special emphasis on the ways in which oil has played a role in political conflicts and wars throughout history. He goes on to describe the environmental consequences of fossil fuels as well as their increasing sc...more
Oct 10, 2012 Joan rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: any budding scientist
This is the sort of book I've been looking for and a perfect example of the use of YA nonfiction to explain a complex subject clearly even for adults. I learned a lot from this book. It talks about the physical origin of fossil fuels (oil, natural gas, coal), the history of the usage of fossil fuels, how the modern industry started, how the history of the Middle East is all about oil (which I knew but had no idea how much of the history was impacted by oil) and finally, the issues with oil, such...more
Does but some inexcusable errors (Istanbul is NOT the capital of Turkey, the photo of the Hoover Dam is NOT the Hoover Dam, melting icecaps will NEVER totally submerge Hawaii and Indonesia), this is a good history of oil and other fossil fuels and its impact on the planet. The oil wars of the 20th and 21st centuries are described in detail. The author clearly explains our dependence on fossil fuels, for better or worse, and why finding alternatives will be difficult but also necessary. NOTE: Thi...more
Loved this book! The title and picture on the cover really grabbed my attention from the very beginning: "Black Gold: The Story of Oil in Our Lives". Everything, absolutely everything, we do in this life is affected by energy and everyone could benefit from reading this book.

The author, Albert Marin, first started describing how oil is made. He titles chapter one as "a freak of geology"; from there he describes how drilling begin and how people, such as John D. Rockefeller, became wealthy from o...more
This is an extremely readable history of oil, from how it formed over the millenia to the political up heaval and wars it has caused. I am not sure that all of Marrin's facts are straight, but he definitely touches on all the major points and he isn't afraid to show the ugly side of the oil business. I found it interesting and somewhat bothersome that he seemed to mention John D. Rockefeller's religious devotion. I wondered where he was going with this. Was he offering an argument that God meant...more
Albert Marrin's timely book starts out explaining what oil is and where is comes from, then moves into its impact on the world, particularly how it relates to warfare, both in the sense that more oil reserves make for a better army and in the sense that countries are willing to go to war to get more. The book also discusses the problems with oil--such as natural disasters and the dwindling supply and concludes by discussing some possible alternatives to relying on oil and the pros and cons of ea...more
Rebecca Buerkett
Black Gold: The Story of Oil in Our Lives is a welcome addition to the middle or high school library. The book provides a concise yet thorough summary of both the scientific and political aspects of humans’ relationship with oil. While focused on the US, the book describes the development of oil dependence throughout the world over time, and highlights the contributions of key individuals in the process. Some chapters are more scientific in nature – describing the process of oil creation and ref...more
Read Ng
I really enjoyed reading this, but it comes across to me like a "History" channel telling of Oil and it's role and future in our world. For the target audience it is simply wonderful. Not too in depth in the details, yet it tosses out some interesting tidbits of information new to me, such as the origins of the words mummy and derrick (and my imagination just spun off thinking about the original invention). I never thought much about what actually happens while drilling for oil and you hit that...more
Crispin Crispian
This book is so filled with both historical and scientific inaccuracies I have a hard time understanding how it is in the non-fiction category. It gets basic facts of Rockefeller's life wrong, makes claims about chemical dispersants that run counter to EPA findings, makes claims about oil's calculated depletion date that are unsubstantiated (and grossly inaccurate based on all other publications) and fails to address known issues with alternatives (industrial ethanol pollutants, solar and wind u...more
An interesting and fairly thorough look at how oil has affected our lives and our world. For me, the history of oil was particularly fascinating. Marrin argues, pretty effectively, that all wars sinse World War One have been about control of oil in some way or another.

Marrin also clearly shows how our existing relationship with oil is unsustainable. He explores the pros and cons of alternative energy sources briefly, but effectively.

An all round good read for anyone interested in the environme...more
Paul Deutschmann
I think that this is a very good book because it is the one book that clearly illustrates the worldwide importance of oil in a way that is interesting to all readers. It may not have the best topic, but it is written in such a good way that it is impossible not to enjoy it. 5 stars. And I am going to look for more books to read by this author.
ultimate reader
I usually think that nonfiction books are a bore, but this one was pretty good. I didn't realize that we depended on oil so much. I also didn't realize that people used to wast so much oil either. It really gets you thinking. "what will happen when oil runs out? How will we power our homes, our cars, our lives, our computers? What will happen to all the technology, machines, and robots that we have made and have dreamt about? how will they run? A must read for anyone looking to find out more abo...more
I did not enjoy this book as much as I would have hoped to. The beginning of the book until aboutthe last 50 or so pages, because at that point the author bias becomes prominent and some of the information is almost pointless, unless having a longer book counts. Up until the modern parts of the book, it is enjoyable while still factual (but considering I know about the 20th century, I could be completely incorrect), but when it comes to modern times I know alot of information is incorrect/stretc...more
7th, 8th, HS I anticipated a better read when I picked this book up at the library. I was quickly let down. Overall the book was too heavy on names and histories of the Middle East that wouldn't stick in my memory. I did learn some very interesting tid bits though! Like how horses created as much or more pollution/health issues than cars do. Plus a few more that I thought worthy of repeating to The Fiance, whether he liked it or not...Would be good for research.
What is the role of oil today? Have students heard that oil is a root of war? Yes, they have, but have they heard that oil affected WWI, WWII, and even Pearl Harbor? Many students have not. This novel explains how different fossil fuels are produced and how this impacts the world. It is also curious that automobiles seemed cleaner compared to horses, but the wastes are described in the novel.
This fascinating history centers around our relationship with oil. I appreciate the unique perspective: a broad scope connected by a single thread. I recommend skimming/ignoring the first chapter, a speculative overview of prehistory related to oil and its origins. The remainder of the book is engaging, well-paced, and always thought-provoking. A small volume that is worth reading.
Kate Madigan
I have to admit I was surprised by how much I really enjoyed this book, and I think it may be worth a re-read on my part. I'm drawn to history more than science, so I was particularly interested in the development of US involvement overseas in regards to oil. This was chock full of facts relevant to our current energy crisis, and I think it is a must read for any teenager.
Katrina Zartman
An interesting account of the history of the oil industry. The author shares his perspective without pushing too hard.
Noah Molyneux
Black Gold by Albert Marrin is about the history of oil. Oil has been around since the beginning of time. One of the first was found in Texas. They used to drill holes to find the oil.
The people who would be interested in this book would be people who love history and non fiction.
Patty Schuster
Another in depth book about the use of oil. This book would be for older readers and may have to split up by chapters to read. The cover of the book is very interesting of the world in a oil drop. Pictured are included but very detailed descriptions.
This slim volume offers more breadth than depth in telling the story of oil - including the science, history and politics - from its making to our current struggle to find alternatives for it. Thought-provoking and informative.
Easy-to-read nonfiction. You'll walk away knowing way more about oil, i.e., history of oil, the power players, world events caused by it, possible solutions to America's oil dependency.
Edward Sullivan
An excellent economic and social history of the imapct impact oil has had and continues to have upon human civilization.
Mark Flowers
A bit too much canned history for my taste, but probably a really excellent starter for many teens out there.
Fascinating and alarming book about the history of oil. This is a fast and easy non-fiction read.
Given some of the reviews I've read, I'm not sure how much of this to believe.
Apr 08, 2013 PWRL marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013-new
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Albert Marrin is a historian and the author of more than twenty nonfiction books for young people. He has won various awards for his writing, including the 2005 James Madison Book Award and the 2008 National Endowment for Humanities Medal. In 2011, his book Flesh and Blood So Cheap was a National Book Award Finalist. Marrin is the Chairman of the History Department at New York's Yeshiva University...more
More about Albert Marrin...
Flesh and Blood So Cheap: The Triangle Fire and Its Legacy Oh Rats! The Story of Rats and People Years of Dust Hitler Stalin: Russia's Man of Steel

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“By the fall of 1918, it was clear that a nation's prosperity, even its very survival, depended on securing a safe, abundant supply of cheap oil.” 2 likes
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