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Crude: The Story of Oil

3.79  ·  Rating details ·  121 ratings  ·  15 reviews
Crude is the unexpurgated story of oil, from the circumstances of its birth millions of years ago to the spectacle of its rise as the indispensable ingredient of modern life. In addition to fueling our SUVs and illuminating our cities, crude oil and its byproducts fertilize our produce, pave our roads, and make plastic possible. "Newborn babies," observes author Sonia Shah ...more
Paperback, 246 pages
Published May 2nd 2006 by Seven Stories Press (first published 2004)
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Apr 20, 2016 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: resource eco-nomists and eco-types
Recommended to Stephen by: my son
Very fine book about crude oil and big oil. Yesterday was the 6th anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon blowout in the Gulf of Mexico. To my surprise this was very far from being the one of the ten biggest oil spills A good companion book to Peter Maas's Crude World: The Violent Twilight of Oil published about the same time. Shah's book is more about oil biology, geology, ecology, recovery methods (good insights on deep water drilling and the Ocean Ranger catastrophe of 1982) than Maas's and less a ...more
Nov 07, 2019 rated it liked it
Utile introduzione al tema, ricerca documentata e sintetica anche se datata. Sono stati però del tutto omessi gli esempi controcorrente di politiche energetiche, e ce ne sono: il Costa Rica, che avrebbe potuto estrarre petrolio e gas in gran quantità, invece di lasciare campo libero alle trivelle si alimenta per il 92% con energia idroelettrica ed aspira ad essere un Paese totalmente ecosostenibile. La Danimarca ha presentato un piano energetico per il decennio 2020-2030 che punta alla completa ...more
Jul 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
Well researched. Structure of information is well laid out. Author's bias is clear but it may be accurate. Thought provoking. My innocence regarding oil and how it drives decisions and access to information has been shattered.
Oct 10, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very informative, needs to be updated.
Jonas Gehrlein
Feb 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: other-science
The book gives an overview of the history of oil and how we may need to use other resources.
The best parts are those about offshore working conditions and effects of oil on Geological research
Seth D Michaels
Great until it goes extremely wrong.

Most of the way through, this book is quite good - a well-explained, brief-but-detailed summary of the history, science and economics behind oil and the problems our reliance on it can cause, with an obvious but not obtrusive left-wing analytical lens. However, it was written in 2004, and as such it is badly dated - missing major events later on that expand, complicate or change the story Shah is telling. Chapter 9, in particular, is premised on th
Aug 30, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: who's curious to know more about the politics of "the black gold"; who's interested in human rights
Shelves: global
Oil: a blessing and a curse at the same time. It is such a controversial topic - maybe that is the reason why it is so fascinating.

It's a blessing, of course - it is the source of energy par excellence, that allows the exporting countries to get ridiculously rich.

It's a curse, sure it is - in the countries in which you can find big oil fields, even though they are very different from each other (Venezuela and Algeria, Iran and Perù, Sudan and Saudia Arabia...), after the first drillings their
Feb 11, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Our foreign policy, our currency, our economy, our environment, our lifestyle all based on oil. It's dirty, it smells, it poisons; but we need it we need it bad and at the same time it can't be too expensive. This is an awesome survey of how oil runs the world in good ways and in bad. Very informative facts that enlightens us to just how much oil we end up using in a day; and the sacrifices made(by both the guilty and the innocent)to get us our oil. Had to give this a 5 star, we can never under- ...more
Nov 10, 2014 rated it liked it
this is like, a well written and researched book but suffers from the problem that (like a lot of science writing with a political bend) most of the things that it is responding to (in a political context) are already passed which isn't like a slight on Sonia Shah (who is a really engaging writer) but rather its a problem that sort of gets at the roots of writing this sort of thing (it becomes obsolete or dated rather quickly).
Jun 21, 2008 rated it really liked it
Solid book on oil. starts with how oil is formed and moves into the economics and politics of oil production. Basically, talks about how the discover of oil in a country creates civil war, destroys the environment, and makes the people worse off.
Jul 28, 2014 rated it really liked it
Avoids the obvious areas related to this topic that we all know about, and goes off in some fascinating directions. One of the more interesting books on this topic I've read, precisely because it veers off the familiar path.
Kathy Allert
Nov 20, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
Read this on my Nook in the dark during the recent power outage/Hurricane Sandy. Fascinating history/critique of the oil industry.
Jun 07, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
An interesting and disheartening look at the oil industry and it's history. Although it was written before the BP oil spill in the Gulf.
Gerard Walsh
Mar 01, 2010 rated it liked it
Interesting background and history to oil. Contrary to the title, it is not at all heavy going.
Aug 26, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: environmentalists who commute
A clear and compelling account of corruption, contamination, and crime.
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Sonia Shah is a science journalist and prize-winning author. Her writing on science, politics, and human rights has appeared in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Foreign Affairs, Scientific American and elsewhere. Her work has been featured on RadioLab, Fresh Air, and TED, where her talk, “Three Reasons We Still Haven’t Gotten Rid of Malaria” has been viewed by over 1,000,000 people aro ...more