Crude World: The Violent Twilight of Oil
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Crude World: The Violent Twilight of Oil

3.72 of 5 stars 3.72  ·  rating details  ·  253 ratings  ·  41 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...more
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published September 22nd 2009 by Knopf (first published January 1st 2009)
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Riku Sayuj
Dec 05, 2011 Riku Sayuj rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  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.
Daniel
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...more
Keith Akers
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.

T...more
Khalid
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
أشرف فقيه
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
Shawn
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,...more
Jonny99
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
Shawnyboy
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
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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...more
Trena
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...more
Mihalis
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...more
G
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...more
Hans de Zwart
Maass covers a lot of ground trying to explain the "resource curse" (including the "Dutch disease"). He takes us to Equatorial Guinea, Nigeria, Ecuador, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Iran, Venezuela and the US. The different pieces are quite disjointed, but together do sketch a broad and ocassionally enlightening picture. His conclusion: we are in the twilight of this industry and we'd do best to make this twilight as short as possible by investing in ways that can ween us of oil. This could only...more
Lois
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
Andrew Helms
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.
Matt
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
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
Eliza
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.
Meredith
Good, but geesh, isn't there *anything* nice to say about oil? Genocide, environmental devastation, global warming, "human rights" little more than an abstraction...it 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.
David
The subtitle of this books is "The violent twilight of oil". So I was expecting more about what happens, or is happening, during the twilight of the age of oil that's different from what happened during earlier years of this era of oil. I'm glad I read this book, but I was expecting something a little different. Good read.
Alice
Anyone interested in why the Gulf Oil Spill happened should read this book, which was published in 2009. The frightening mentality of oil companies and what they have been doing around the world to other countries and cultures is alarming. It also explains how this nightmare happened in our backyard.
Margaret Sankey
With vignettes from Nigeria, Venezuela, Kurdistan, Saudi Arabia and Equatorial Guinea, documentation of the corrosive effects of oil riches, which somehow never seem to improve the living conditions, political transparency or societal productivity of those blessed with petroleum reserves.
Cherie
B- Interesting book about how oil is related to violence, war, corruption, and greed. At times, it failed to capture my attention and I skimmed much of it; some parts are sad, but I don't think he truly captured the devastation that the negativity surrounding oil can cause.
Linny
Reporter Peter Maass makes the study of oil countries as easy as pie, a flawless and eloquent writer. History, social commentary, details of the lead players, all point to corrupting, evil stakes, violent scenarios. Get more Maass.
Nick
I put this book on my "politics" shelf because although Maas considers the economics of petroleum, the focus of his argument is that, as Lord Acton wrote "power tends to corrupt", and oil is power in most meanings of that word.
Emily
Aug 18, 2010 Emily marked it as to-read
I'm reading a lot of books on similar subjects. This one may not be the best for my purposes, but it's one I want to keep an eye out for. Any insights are welcome. Thanks, Meg, for the review.
Christine
The author is a much better interview than a writer. Sometimes, less is more. And when the facts about the petroleum industry are as compelling as they are, let them speak for themselves.
Misha
Mr. Maass writes in a beautiful manner. Visiting oil-rich areas of the world requires courage, as they often turn out to be ugly and cruel—any ideas why?
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