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Crude World: The Violent Twilight of Oil

3.72  ·  Rating Details  ·  348 Ratings  ·  47 Reviews
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 wor
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published September 22nd 2009 by Knopf (first published January 1st 2009)
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(showing 1-30 of 762)
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Riku Sayuj
Dec 05, 2011 Riku Sayuj rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Riku by: Abid Hassan
More of a travelogue than an environmental book, Crude World is a collection of nation wide case studies. With incisive and bold investigative journalism Peter Maass has brought out the unambiguous reality of the 'Resource Curse'. The chapters on Saudi Arabia and Russia were particularly interesting. Maass however provides no new insights or solutions except to reiterate that it is ultimately in our hands.
Apr 23, 2010 Daniel rated it it was ok
This book is more like an extended magazine article. It's listed as 276 pages, but that number drops to 225 if you leave out the endnotes. If you're looking for a broad introduction to the world of oil geopolitics, this may be the book for you. But the author has no special insight to offer, no new way of thinking about the problems involved with oil extraction, just restatements of what's been said and observed already many times.

The author himself may be aware of how unoriginal his book is, s
Feb 14, 2010 Khalid rated it liked it
The author exposes the staggering destruction oil has wrought in countries less well-known as energy suppliers. The author recounts how the greed of Western oil companies, governments and consumers have propped up such vicious and corrupt dictatorships as that in Nigeria. Nigeria has earned more than $400bn from oil, yet, as Maass grimly notes, nine out of 10 Nigerians live on less than $2 a day and one in five children dies before its fifth birthday. Some 80% of Nigeria's oil wealth goes to 1% ...more
Keith Akers
Jan 09, 2010 Keith Akers rated it really liked it
I heard this guy speak at the recent ASPO-USA conference. He's good. This book is very much "human interest" journalism -- no need to worry about charts and graphs here, or tortuous explanations of depletion rates. He goes to Africa, central Asia, and all over the world to talk to people affected by oil and the oil industry.

He said that writing this book was more difficult even than writing about war, because at least in a war there are people shooting at each other which you can write about.

أشرف فقيه
Apr 05, 2010 أشرف فقيه rated it really liked it
الكتاب ليس موسوعياً مثل (الجائزة)، لكنه يقدم صورة وافية ومعاصرة لـ "لعنة النفط".. فحيث يوجد النفط يوجد الفساد وسوء الإدارة ويتفشى الفقر والبطالة وتنتهك البيئة ومعها حقوق المواطنين. وهذه هي نكتة أو لعنة النفط. لأن النفط يفترض أن يجلب الرخاء والثراء كونه محور الاقتصاد والسياسة العالميين. يجادل المؤلف أنه باسثناء بعض الأمثلة القليلة فإن النفط كان نقمة على الشعوب المالكة له.. وحتى هذه العبارة الأخيرة تبدو شديدة التعقيد والضبابية.. لأن تاريح النفط هو وجه آخر لتاريخ الحق الضائع. النفط هو دم الشعب المت ...more
Nov 08, 2009 Shawn rated it it was ok
Disappointing, in that it focuses almost entirely on the damage done to the oil producing economies/societies, rather than the consumers. Although there's a brief analysis of Iraq and an implicit acknowledgment that oil was and is the main reason we're there, it's only implicit.

If you're looking for a decent history of what has happened to oil producers over the past 30 years, read it here. If you're looking for a book that focuses on the future of both producers and consumers (as the subtitle,
Apr 09, 2015 Cara rated it liked it
I feel like there was a lot of good stuff here, but for whatever reason I had a lot of trouble paying attention. Maybe I'm just all outraged out.
Apr 24, 2016 Stephen rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: anyone interested in social and environmental justice
Recommended to Stephen by: my son
Excellent book on the imperialistic geopolitics of oil. The author visited eleven countries to write the book and had already been to seven other key nations. Interviews with and observations on a panoply of people from Exxon CEO (observations only) to jihadist fighter. Full of facts, some of which may be outdated; e.g. Ras Tanura is probably no longer the biggest terminal in the world. Even if dated, they are illustrative; e.g. Nigeria flared circa 2008 20% of all the world's flared-off gas.
David Buccola
Jan 18, 2015 David Buccola rated it really liked it
There's much to like about this book. Maass does a good job of illustrating the destructive and corruptive influence of fossil fuels on much of the world. From environmental destruction to political corruption, Maass shows just how much harm our love of fossil fuels is causing.
Oct 17, 2009 AC rated it liked it
The book is somewhat interesting, but lacks depth -- and there are better things out there for the money.
Aug 28, 2010 Jonny99 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The oily truth. Upton Sinclair’s ”The Jungle” exposed the literal sausage-making of the meat packing industry prompting a painful, public examination of the industry eventually leading to reform. Peter Maas’ ”Crude World” presents a similarly ugly, painful review of the modern oil industry and will likely lead to…very little. The difference is choice. When it comes to what we eat and how it gets to our plate, we have easy other options. When it comes to our intractable addition to oil, we have l ...more
Jan 31, 2011 Shawnyboy rated it liked it
I thought this was a fairly good book. Maas' writing was a little cheesy at times, but overall it was fairly informative. I'm sure that if you're a student of world history, politics or economics then you won't find anything earth shattering in this book. Then again, if you're a student of those disciplines, I'm sure you wouldn't waste your time reading a book like this, because you should probably be working on your own! For someone like myself, who's finally starting to delve deeper into what ...more
Feb 08, 2012 Book rated it really liked it
Crude World: The Violent Twilight of Oil by Peter Maass

“Crude World” is a topical book about the impact oil has had on those countries that produce it. Accomplished journalist and author, Peter Maas provides compelling arguments to support his theory that oil-rich countries are not rich, and that their oil has brought more trouble rather prosperity. This 288-page book is composed of the following ten chapters: 1. Scarcity, 2. Plunder, 3. Rot, 4. Contamination, 5. Fear, 6. Greed, 7. Desire, 8. Al
Nov 13, 2009 Trena rated it really liked it
NEWS FLASH: Oil is depressing.

I read this book based on a review in The Economist.

One of his main points is that oil is so bad for the countries that have it because it creates wealth without jobs. I didn't really know that (or think about it) before, but he persuasively explains that it really is a curse. Whether the money is stolen by corrupt officials (often) or distributed among the people (occasionally), not enough jobs is not good for a society--even a society where all have an easy lifes
May 05, 2011 Mihalis rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Maass brings forward the question of whether we want to see corruption via our own western oil conglomerates or from the usual suspects such as the world developing state governments. It is true that the former allows some sort of comfort since we feel that we have the freedom to critique, protest or even sue these companies. Whereas in the regimes outside the western world people are helpless and are destined to live a life of injustice and poverty.
And then there are countries like Brunei, whi
A look at the impacts of oil on the world's largest suppliers. Power politics and recent historical views are covered well. Some interesting interviews. Since the book was published in 2009 I'm giving it 4 stars (3.5 really). Sure it may be a lot of information some people who bother to follow these things already think they know, but the American view of oil is still pretty skewed/insular. A good introduction to the ravages of oil on the people who live where it is extracted. Recommend.
Jan 01, 2016 G rated it liked it
There is nothing you don't already know about oil&gas industry:
- companies were/are exploiting the economic conditions of the oil rich countries
- despotic leaders profiting from oil riches
- chaotic distribution of the oil money with long term implications in the world politics - see Saudi Arabia sustaining and supporting Islamism
- OPEC hiding the real value of oil reserves
- stunning revelations (maybe from an outside viewer) of the incompetence of the US government to protect Iraq's resource
Hans Hoffmann
Feb 01, 2016 Hans Hoffmann rated it really liked it
For those who want a quick overview of how the Oil industry works worldwide this is a great read. From Nigeria --> Russia --> Saudi Arabia--> Venezuala and more it should give you a appreciation of the role oil plays in the world economy and the environmental damage it does to extract the oil. A large part of the latter could be avoided but shareholders are more important.
Oct 26, 2015 Micah rated it really liked it
It's a good thing this is a fascinating subject, because the author's eye-roll-worthy purple prose got to be a bit much several times. And his chapter on Venezuela is not good. Still, a worthwhile, depressing read.
Andrew Sebastian
File Under: The Resource Curse and Leadership Corruption (and why Canada and Norway are above it)
عبدالوهاب الطبطبائي
A nice intro to the back scenes of the shady side of the oil industry.
Apr 09, 2012 Lois rated it it was amazing
This is an excellent book to inform all users of fossil fuels. The truth behind obtaining oil is revealed. Destruction of nature, greed of those in power and their selfish use of the proceeds. This book covers the experience of a reporter over several decades leading to a truth filled account of how oil is obtained and a scratch on the surface of the politics that keep humanities' abuse of the planet behind closed doors. This book is written in a manner that makes it an easy read for a mature re ...more
Aug 04, 2015 John rated it it was ok
Pretty biased but some good info.
Andrew Helms
Feb 25, 2012 Andrew Helms rated it it was ok
From an anecdotal perspective, it was a relatively interesting book. However, in terms of expanding the discussion and discourse around natural resources, economic development and a path forward, Maass really did not present anything groundbreaking, or even fresh.

You could summarize the whole book as:
Oil gives a lot of wealth, governments and oil companies usually take advantage of this and exploit people. Things should not be this way.
Matthew Trevithick
Dec 11, 2010 Matthew Trevithick rated it it was ok
Not really a great book - as others have said, sort of reads like a long magazine article. No heavy hitting analysis, though the author does manage to get interviews with some key players in the oil industry. The main point of this book is: oil is a dirty and corrupt business. While some of the examples of how disturbing it is are memorable, for the most part, this is a book that tells you things you already know.
Thomas DeWolf
Mar 20, 2010 Thomas DeWolf rated it it was amazing
It reads like a Stephen King novel–fast-paced, thrilling, and frightening. The problem is that this isn’t a novel about a rabid dog. It’s the true story of our world-wide addiction to oil, what it has done and continues to do that makes the world less safe, less moral, less sustainable.

You can read the rest of my review at my blog
Jul 19, 2010 Eliza rated it really liked it
Shelves: theme-1
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Heather Downs
Interesting discussion of the impact of oil in oil-rich countries. Apparently, the presence of oil does not equal economic or political stability. I enjoyed reading the author's argument about the politics of oil. My one criticism is that at times, his writing is disjointed. Highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to learn more about the oil industry.
Dec 23, 2010 Meredith rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good, but geesh, isn't there *anything* nice to say about oil? Genocide, environmental devastation, global warming, "human rights" little more than an makes one wonder if those folks who constructed our civilization would have done anything differently if only they'd known what they were getting us all into.
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