The King of Oil: The Secret Lives of Marc Rich
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The King of Oil: The Secret Lives of Marc Rich

3.8 of 5 stars 3.80  ·  rating details  ·  312 ratings  ·  37 reviews
Billionaire oil trader Marc Rich for the first time talks at length about his private life (including his expensive divorce from wife Denise); his invention of the spot oil market which made his fortune and changed the world economy; his lucrative and unpublicized dealings with Ayatollah Khomeini’s Iran,Fidel Castro’s Cuba, war-ravaged Angola, andapartheid South Africa; hi...more
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published October 13th 2009 by St. Martin's Press (first published 2009)
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Elaine Nelson
I'm still working on what I think about this. Oddly enough, it's become bound up in my head with my thoughts about Facebook. (In short, just because it's legal doesn't mean it's the right thing to do.) I had a instant distrust of Rich, and I think the brief reference to Ayn Rand has something to do with it. Then "realpolitik", and one thinks of Kissinger, and I think there's a connection amongst people who have fled dictatorships, and one reaction being the development of an amoral outlook, at l...more
Elvis
Let's put it like this.
The story surrounding the "biggest devil of them all" is not at least boring. It can be argued that Mr. Rich (nomen est omen) is, in fact, the most interesting trade figure of the 20th century. Although the claimed start from the bottom (american dream fairy tale) is in fact widely exaggerated, a man can only admit that he was the best in his business. In the right time, on the right place with the right set of mind (somebody would say that you need the wrong set of mind...more
Geoff Noble
A good book but not a great book. Entertaining all the way through. I must admit I had no idea Marc Rich & Co was Glencore, the listed company and in fact had no idea who Marc Rich was before I read this book.

I did feel that while the author kept stating his neutrality, he was rather sympathetic to Marc Rich. Marc Rich is a billionaire and former commodities trader who was hunted by the US law enforcement agencies for a myriad of charges. My own take is that it was a bit of a witch-hunt but...more
Angie Eikens
Prior to reading this book I had never heard of Marc Rich. His story is fascinating although it highlighted American arrogance. All Marc's admirable characteristics such as hard work and determination are deemed to be American, the one action that defines him is that he "traded with the enemy" But Marc Rich is Belgian and most importantly, Jewish.Being Jewish is what has defined his life, which is why he always helped Israel. It is no coincidence that Israel came to his aid with the parden. I ac...more
Jasper
Although Marc Rich and the company he built are certainly gripping subjects for a book, I did not find the writing very compelling. Both the international oil trades themselves as well as the legal case that makes up a big part of the book are not very clearly described and, as a layman, I was not able to form an opinion based on clear facts after reading about it. It get's a little better in the second half of the book, as the writer (finally) lays out the details of a few oil trades to explain...more
Kristian Reinertsen
Writing wise, uncompelling. Tediously repetitive and, for my taste, too lacking in ways of concrete examples. None the less, this book gave me food for thought. If anything, it offered me a broader view on comodities trade and how world events affect traders - two topics I'm not intimately familliar with. I'd also not heard of Mark Rich before and, due to my age, completely missed out on the public controversy surrounding him.

I finished the read, left with conflicted emotions. My dislike for Am...more
Louise
This book tells, in plain language the incredible story of Marc Rich. Author Daniel Ammann takes very complicated business and legal issues and makes them clear and interesting. The story flows nicely. It is a "can't put it down" book.

When you're finished, you sympathize with Rich. Marc Rich (speaking through Ammann's text) is convincing in his contention that he's been over-prosecuted and demonized beyond his alleged crimes. Many believe he is the ultimate international demon, but the reasons f...more
Davis
A biography of Marc Rich, a European Jewish immigrant who fled to the U.S. during World War II and went on to become one of the more successful commodities traders in the last 40 years. You can say he was at the right place, at the right time. He correctly gauged the volatile environment of the Middle East in the 70's, securing long term oil contracts which he was able to sell at enormous profit when turmoil struck, most notably the Arab embargoes, Israeli conflicts, and the Iranian revolution....more
John
A thinly disguised PR salvage job to reinvent one of the most notorious financial villains of the 20th century as a noble, philanthropic genius victimized and driven overseas by ruthless federal prosecutors. This task also requires that the author justify Bill Clinton and Eric Holder's 11th hour pardon on the last day of his Presidency. Admission: I have worked as an oil trader for 30 years and regrettably have done business with Marc Rich's company.
The author of this book was either taken in b...more
Timo
A great book on a historic figure who disrupted the oil trade market by introducing a spot price market.
Edward
I had always wondered about the person for whom Bill Clinton was vilified for pardoning at the end of his presidency. I had not followed the Marc Rich case before his pardon. Thus, this book was a revelation and very interesting. Rich was a fascinating individual - brilliant and brave. The author was pretty even handed in his evaluation of the Rich case from the 1980's. However, I have come to the conclusion that Rich was a victim of prosecution bullying by Rudy Giuliani when he was a US Attorne...more
Margaret-jane
Always been fascinated by news of Marc Rich, especially when you couldn't find out anything about him. First book I bought about him someone stole it before I even got to read it. The King Of Oil is the story much of Marc Rich's life, how he did so well in commodity trading, the strategies and the opportunities which presented themselves. I was left liking him and wanting to know more. This book contrasts poor media coverage.
Jazel Lum
Intriguing story of a controversial person in the commodities world. The book grew on me.
Tarik Chardon
It's a very one-sided book, one would feel it could have been written by Marc Rich himself. This is the way Rich defends himself from the (many) accusations made against him.

Besides the personal aspects, there are too little description of Rich business model and modus operandi, which could have made the book interesting for commodity traders.
Khalid
This is the biography of Marc Rich, one of the most controversial commodities traders in recent history. Through Ammann, Rich gave an extensive account of his oil trading from the 1970s through the 1990s. Although there was key information on the oil trade, I was disappointed with the book and felt that Ammann was too sympathetic towards Rich.
Christine
My rating is a little unfair... I should have known that reading about a major tax fraud case immediately after living & breathing taxes would not be ideal! I loved the rags to riches section and all of the information about Rich's family and business lives, I just felt it got a bit fry in the middle. Actually 2.5 stars.
Abdul
This book was very well written. Definitely gives you some great insights into a complex and greedy man. Willing to sell his immortal soul for Money. Money which he does not seem to be enjoying with all the bad publicity and cases against him.
Floraine
It's certainly an impressive story and it definitely got me thinking about how the media can destroy someone's reputation, but I am not sure it's written/presented in the best way. I thought the book got a bit boring/convoluted at times...
Ed
A bit Swiss (turgid) but a good story of how a man created a market and built a business - only to be vilified by hypocritical moralist politicians once they could afford to disassociate themselves from him.
Colin Kemmis
Not the best narrative. The story was very interesting but missed that 'I'm there' feeling. Lacked flow with the plot - jumping from past to present and between topics was not clear.
Philip
Very good. A well researched, and thorough unbiased account on an interesting man during an even more interesting period. Couldn't help but finish the book leaning in favour of Mr Rich.
Petras
Although the book is not superbly written and perhaps not entirely unbiased, it was a quite interesting glimpse into commodity traders' world. I would have loved more substance though.
Heidi Hu
a friendly portrait of a probably not always so friendly man ... pinches some little holes in the curtains that mass-media are putting between us and the facts. but only very small holes.
James
Dec 26, 2010 James is currently reading it
an internationalist master of capital. his formulas and methods are time tested and nothing new though his execution was extraordinary. still plenty of those cats prowling around.
Modisettwilson
Picked this up on a whim and became more interested than I thought I would. It's well written & if I were more business-oriented, I would have given it more stars.
Rutger-Jan
A very boring book about a very interesting man. The previous biography ('Metal Man'), although not authorised, was more gripping to read.
Chris
good information and a deep history of no goal but money. sad really, sure Rich is rich but at what price. Sold his soul to the dollar.
Carmen
It was interesting to me in that he lives in the same region that I do... I was lost though through much of the oil and trading details...
Ben Handler
Phenomenal read
Sanket
I thought it was a very interesting story but I wouldn't consider it a book that was very well written.
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