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The Prize: The Epic Quest for Oil, Money & Power

4.4  ·  Rating Details ·  6,102 Ratings  ·  538 Reviews

Deemed "the best history of oil ever written" by Business Week and with more than 300,000 copies in print, Daniel Yergin’s Pulitzer Prize–winning account of the global pursuit of oil, money, and power has been extensively updated to address the current energy crisis.

Paperback, 779 pages
Published December 23rd 2008 by Free Press (first published January 15th 1991)
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Matt
Jul 05, 2011 Matt rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
I bought Daniel Yergin’s The Prize during one of my semi-regular fits of intellectual hunger, which often strike after I’ve read five straight books about Nazi henchman and zero books about anything relevant to today’s world. After the purchase, I put it on the shelf. And there it sat, for a long, long time. It is, after all, a tremendously big tome about oil; it does not scream out to be consumed or embraced or loved. For a long time it just sat there, on my shelf, laughing at me.

Finally, one
...more
Ryan
Jul 15, 2007 Ryan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Long, but soooooo good. Lots of people write books like How Soccer Explains the World, which you read and think, "That was cute, but soccer doesn't ACTUALLY explain the world." The thing is, to hear Yergin tell it, oil actually DOES explain the world, at least for the last 150 years, and I believe him. Extremely well researched and written, but also surprisingly lively and imbued with humor as well. Kudoes to Yergin for doing so well with a topic that's potentially so dry.

(It won the 1992 Pulitz
...more
Cody
If anyone has any interest in formulating an educated opinion on the energy industry, they should read this book before proceeding any further. Mr. Yergin does a wonderful job of objectively (for the most part) laying out the details of each significant event that has occurred in the world of oil since Drake's Folly. Highly recommend the reader pick up "The Quest" to complete the picture and understand where the oil industry stands today. Wonderfully informative and entertaining.
Naeem
Jul 25, 2007 Naeem rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: all people who can read
Shelves: mustreads
Be warned that Yergin is an apologist for Oil companies and doesn't have a critical word to say about capitalism in this 800 page plus book.

Nevertheless, I consider this a must read (I read it twice). First, Yergin writes like a journalist -- so the reading goes quickly and well.

More important, this is a comprehensive and thorough history of the commodity oil. When you review the history of the 20th century from the lens of oil, many things change and everything deepens. The chapters on WWII ar
...more
Alec
Jan 19, 2010 Alec rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Aaaand time. Take that, Prize. After a mere 2 full months, about 8 flights, and at least 2 pounds of lean muscle mass added from lifting this tome, I have finally taken down The Prize. Mr. Yergin, you are the definition of a worthy adversary, akin to the man in the black pajamas or the value menu at Jack in the Box.

The Prize is a book that, upon completion, made me feel completely ridiculous for ever having an opinion on anything (literally, anything) without this base collection of knowledge. W
...more
Nick Black
750 pages of pretty dense prose, originating in Pennsylvania, spanning the globe (you'll come out knowing more than you did going in about venezuela, bahrain, and azerbaijan) and ending on the shiite plains of iraq's central euphrates region in 1991 (an epilogue addresses the period ending in the second gulf war, but is cursory at best). characters of all ethnicity and nomenclature enter, live for a few pages, and then exit, sometimes referred to again fifty pages later. switches from backroom i ...more
Arun Divakar
Jul 27, 2016 Arun Divakar rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
The measure of success of any democratically elected government in India for a common citizen does not hinge on developmental plans, economic indicators or the advances in diplomacy. It dwells almost singly on the price of a single commodity : oil, the fluctuations of which can wreak havoc on the fiscal management of an average Indian household. Time and again, history has proved that many a voter comes to a conclusion on who to vote for by taking a look at their stance on the price of oil. As a ...more
Mike
As a history and energy enthusiast I simply adored this mammoth of a book (warning: this book is both huge and has small print. If this intimidates you stear clear because each page is chock full of fascinating and detailed knowledge and stories). What I particulalry liked about it was the level of detail Yergin went into explaining the dyanmics of the oil market thorughout its existence, the major players that moved those markets, and the reasons behind why they made the decisions they did. It ...more
Anna
Dec 03, 2012 Anna rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Neither of the novels I’m currently reading is really going anywhere, so I started reading a history of the oil industry instead. As I’d expected, it was totally riveting. I find the role of oil in economic, political, and environmental development fascinating, so clearly was predisposed to like it. The book sustained my interest, even when recounting the technicalities of oil company mergers, through the use of a high quality journalistic approach. Each chapter began with a character vignette o ...more
Michael
Oil is the thread connecting 130 years of global history through such characters as John D. Rockefeller, Harry Sinclair, Winston Churchill, King Faisal, Warren G. Harding, T.E. Lawrence and many more. Our oil addiction stemmed from the discovery of oil "seep fields" (think of teh Beverly Hillbillilies "bubblin' crude") in Western Pa.

The original oil boom sought to exploit kerosene as an improvement over whale oil burning in lamps. Oil fever waxed and waned until the commercialization of interna
...more
Robert Morris
Sep 24, 2013 Robert Morris rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is fantastic. I am a bit of a history buff and have read a fair amount of it, but this book added a whole new dimension to my understanding of the past century. Petrochemicals, and the benefits and security issues that they bring have been central to the way the modern world has formed. This may seem to be an obvious statement, but it is not a story that people focus on much. Yergin has filled this gap. Vital reading.

One thing that I found particularly illuminating is the perpetual bo
...more
Shashwat Sharma
Jan 20, 2015 Shashwat Sharma rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Okay, so this is not your conventional easy read, but one that's extremely invigorating if you're interested in history. For The Prize underlines the entire history of the past one and a half centuries revolving around the one ultimate Prize - oil. There would hardly be another single book whose pages discuss people from Rockefeller to Kennedy, Roosevelt to George Bush, Stalin to Hitler to Saddam Hussein. Oh, and there's even a line about Moses and Noah's Ark! The sheer scale of the oil industry ...more
Ankur
Jan 03, 2016 Ankur rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the Biography of Oil.

This book should be in the reading list of every one who is interested in Politics or Business or History.

You will get detailed insights regarding the following points :-
- How oil was discovered ? Who were the men behind the discovery of Oil ?
- How were all major oil fields discovered ?
- How did all the top Oil Companies come into existence = Standard Oil, Exxon, Mobil, Aramco, Shell, Royal Dutch, etc. ?
- Who was Mr 5% ?
- How and Why Oil defined the course of World
...more
Mukesh Kumar
Jun 21, 2013 Mukesh Kumar rated it it was amazing
A fantastic account of the history of the world oil industry - and with it it the history of the modern economy, diplomacy and geopolitics. One can't begin to fathom the extensive research that the author has engaged in, to compose this epic of a book.
A must read for anyone remotely related to oil and energy business or anyone interested in understanding modern global politics and energy policy.
Paul Donahue
Nov 23, 2009 Paul Donahue rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I would give this six stars if I could. I hate exaggerating but I don't think I am when I say this book has changed the way I think about the past, the present, and the future. It's impossible to retain even all the broad points made in this book, and I fail to comprehend how someone could possess all of that knowledge at the same time. Many of the sub-stories fall into the "I can't believe that actually happened" category.

It is not just a story of the oil industry. It is the story of one of the
...more
Ilya
May 05, 2013 Ilya rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: energy
An 800-page history of oil, the most important commodity in the modern world. Although petroleum was known to the ancients, its modern history began in 1859 in Pennsylvania when it came to be extracted commercially and processed into kerosene for nighttime illumination. When this market started getting saturated, the invention of the internal combustion engine created a new one. John D. Rockefeller monopolized the oil market in the United States, at one point getting the railroads to pay him a ...more
Max
Sep 16, 2014 Max rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: world-history
This sweeping history of oil takes us from the first strike in Pennsylvania in 1859 to the Gulf War in 1990. Along the way we encounter personalities from John D. Rockefeller to George H. W. Bush, companies from Standard Oil to T. Boone Pickens’ Mesa Petroleum, booms and panics from Titusville Pa and Spindletop Texas to the global energy crises of the 1970’s and 90’s. If at times the detail is a bit overwhelming, it is highly instructive portraying the dynamics of oil’s impact on global economic ...more
Charlie
Mar 18, 2012 Charlie rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
I feel that I should write a massive review to do justice to this tome, but I doubt anyone would want to read that. This book could have been either much shorter or much longer; it's current length leaves me rather dissatisfied. Yergin has compiled phenomenal research and applied a creative and fascinating lens to historical events. As various players, countries, and situations enter the sphere of Yergin's history of oil, he then has to provide background on them, struggling to find the balance ...more
Noiresque
Jul 13, 2007 Noiresque rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I cannot say enough good things about this book. I plead with you, nay, beg you: read it.

This is, truly, a "must read." It is a history book, but a vibrant, stunning, at times almost unbelievable one.

If you haven't figured it out already, the world runs on oil, and has for a while now. And will continue to do so. It influences everything, and has played what was to me a surprisingly pivotal role in World War 2.

How can you claim to care about current events, issues, the war in Iraq, terrorism, et
...more
Mark Joyce
Jul 03, 2016 Mark Joyce rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Prize is an outstanding narrative history that will appeal to all students of 20th century politics, international relations and business. It is also an invaluable reference book for those with a deeper interest in energy politics and the oil and gas industry. It is truly epic in scale and I’d be surprised if anybody gets through the whole thing without skimming some sections. The editors could easily have chopped a couple of hundred pages without detracting from the final product. But Yergi ...more
Tim
Dec 29, 2016 Tim rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was extremely long but very good. It's fascinating to see how the world of oil grew from tiny "startups" to a massive monopoly within a generation, and then became one of the most politically important industries. Yergin argues that oil drives everything, and I'm largely convinced.

Oil is also an amazing case study of political economy. What happens when a cartel tries to raise the price of a commodity? What happens when a government tries to protect local producers, but also help the c
...more
Pieter
Sep 17, 2012 Pieter rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: economie
A well-written essay on the history of oil. The book reads on many levels. One could use it as just a history of oil, in which the reader, on top of that, gets some biographies of famous oil barons (Rockefeller, Deterding, George Bush sr.) for free. Oil proves also to be a textbook example of applied micro- and industrial economics: cartels, free market with lots of suppliers and customers, import quota, impact of taxes,... Last but not least, the book offers a good insight in the geopolitical i ...more
Blake
Oct 09, 2008 Blake rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: History junkies
Recommended to Blake by: Amazon.com
A most excellent work of history which explores every facet of the history of oil. The scope and research is truly amazing, ranging from biography of individual oil tycoons and entrepreneurs to political, economic, social, and military history. Surprisingly, despite the topic, "The Prize" is very readable and, despite its over 800 page length, is concise as it moves through events. I would rank this as one of the most informative works of history I have read. Everyone knows oil is important, but ...more
Nitya Sivasubramanian
I desperately want to read this book cover to cover. Unfortunately, being reading nonfiction that requires actual fact retention to proceed from chapter to chapter and taking care of an 8-month old full-time don't exactly go hand in hand. So unfortunately, I had to take this book back to the library half-read. I do have this to say though, any book that has me laughing out loud and waking my husband up to spout facts about the name of a certain oil company, definitely a must-read in my opinion!
William Dearth
Feb 12, 2012 William Dearth rated it really liked it
Shelves: american
This book is for those who know it all as well as for those that think they know it all. I rank it right up there with Paul Kennedy's The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers as essential reading.

The level of detail is immense throughout the book, but the last 1/3 is truly scary.

For political aficionados, it is indispensable.

This should be deserving of a five star rating. I rated it at four stars only because I read it intermittently throughout the year. That takes away from the continuity of the
...more
James Anderson
Jun 17, 2013 James Anderson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The first half is incredible, starting out with the oil boom in the US and how it shaped both world wars. It reaches fever pitch with World War II as every major power on both sides is motivated largely by oil in their scramble for strategic targets.

The second half is a snoozefest concerning the Middle East's rise as the preeminent oil state. I didn't actually read the majority of this part because it just does nothing for me. No intrigue, no drama, just money.
Alexander Mooij
Oct 31, 2014 Alexander Mooij rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the most fantastic history lessons I have ever read. Even though I consider myself an environmentalist, this book has allowed me to develop a much more nuanced image of, and respect for the energy industry.
A must for those interested in energy, politics and entrepreneurship.
Great storytelling too with amazing characters.
Simran Buttar
May 19, 2011 Simran Buttar rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Very well written and well laid out book, although not explicitly stated but it provides direct insight into US foreign policy and energy matters. My views towards US politics, foreign policy, large energy companies and environment has completely changed.
Looking forward to next book from Mr. Daniel (Sept. 2011)
Nan
Dec 09, 2013 Nan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What a surprisingly good read! Yergin writes like a novelist. He effectively narrates the economic growth of the oil industry in an entertaining and conversational style. Highly recommended for gaining historical insights into today's international political arena.
Klas Andersen
Dec 26, 2016 Klas Andersen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: energy
Well it took me almost a year to finish this one, but holy moly! If you want to know anything about oil, this book is the one. The book gives a great perspective on how oil has influenced the world in the last 150 years. Not to mention the years to come.
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Daniel Yergin is the author of the new bestseller The Quest: Energy, Security, and the Remaking of the Modern World which has been hailed as “a fascinating saga” about the “quest for sustainable resources of energy,” and “the book you must read to understand the future of our economy and our way of life,” not to mention “necessary reading for C.E.O.’s, conservationists, lawmakers, generals, spies, ...more
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