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Blood Oil: Tyrants, Violence, and the Rules That Run the World

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4.04  ·  Rating details ·  197 ratings  ·  34 reviews
Natural resources like oil and minerals are the largest source of unaccountable power in the world. Petrocrats like Putin and the Saudis spend resource money on weapons and oppression; militants in Iraq and in the Congo spend resource money on radicalization and ammunition. Resource-fueled authoritarians and extremists present endless crises to the West-and the source of t ...more
Hardcover, 552 pages
Published December 31st 2015 by Oxford University Press, USA
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Jason
Feb 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Many of the modern world's natural resources are extracted by strong-man regimes which effectively steal them from their citizens. When we buy stuff made from them, we become complicit in tyranny, but doing without them isn't an option. What should we do?

Most books on this subject either shoot for ridiculously impractical utopian absolutes, or declare the modern world a total ethical disaster and wallow in self-pity that leaves no path for improvement. Wenar focuses on how far we've come in the
...more
Ryan
Jul 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: anthropology
Puts the resource (mainly oil) problem in modern context. I enjoyed learning about Africa's and Arabia's relation to the West through oil. Although I was aware that the West was not innocent, it becomes harder to ignore when you learn details.

The second half gets more into political and philosophical prescription to remedy the issues.

Wenar is optimistic even though it's hard to envision a world where we get resources without doing harm. I especially enjoyed learning that the British fought the
...more
Raya Al-Raddadi
Nov 18, 2016 rated it liked it
The author attempts to place morality at the core of global trade in natural resources, showing how the majority of petroleum producing countries are ruthlessly authoritarian that steal the resource revenues from their own citizens. With historical and philosophical dimensions, the book shows how the global trade in natural resources with the “might is right” regimes comes (ALWAYS) at a human cost. Therefore, the last two chapters offers a proposal to end the Western exploitation of natural reso ...more
Sue Wallace
Feb 07, 2016 rated it liked it
I received this as an arc from net galley in exchange for an honest review.
Throughout the world, resource - rich countries are plagued by tyranny, violence, and corruption with precious few exceptions, the political elites in such nations control natural resources, which are often the primary - and sometimes the only -' source of wealthy generation.
This wasn't what I thought it would be.
Although I have read the whole book it was slow and I nearly gave up.
But I kept going.
This will only get
...more
Brian Lutz
Feb 16, 2016 rated it really liked it
"At your best, you are conditionally trusting, and unconditionally trustworthy. Hard-headed and soft-hearted, a pessimist of intelligence and an optimist of will. You reach confidently across boundaries to join energies with others so that together you are stronger and free. You are powerful and counter-powerful. You are connective. You should rule the world."

Hell yeah I should.
...more
Andrew Obrigewitsch
This book is a great philosophical and moral look at at resource exploitation. It goes into great detail on how it affects the peoples of nations which are being exploited as well as the rest of the world.

The other gives many great solutions to fix this problem which is actually far ore profound than one would at first imagine.
Maria Gabriella
Nov 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Excellent listening, although somehow difficult at times. It definitely taught me a lot on the relationship between power and resources. I feel this book should be a compulsory read in schools, it could show the young generations how to change this world.
Clay
Feb 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Ramps up the usual analysis by economists of natural resource curse and puts it on steroids. Very timely given the current rise of populist nationalism and protectionism; as countries rethink their trade arrangements, clean trade can be part of the new mix. Cites Rousseau's arguments that enlightenment driven capitalism has a built in contradiction: People are promised the moon, but see things they can't afford to buy, places they can't afford to visit. This leads to frustrations and self delusi ...more
Gunnar Nelson
Mar 17, 2017 rated it liked it
Great insight into corruption within the global supply chain but then diverges his arguments into claims relying heavily on Prothos and not enough evidence. For example he would talk about, "9/11 Alaska cries" and dives into a more philosophical idea for global social justice. ...more
Blake Jones
Aug 06, 2017 rated it liked it
Very informative and helpful to understand how our simple purchases each day affect people across the world..both positively and negatively. The book is somewhat repetitive, but he does explain how to create positive change.
Joseph Spuckler
Oct 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: oil-coal-nuclear
Blood Oil: Tyrants, Violence, and the Rules That Run the World by Leif Wenar is a realistic look at what goes into the items of our daily lives. Wenar holds the Chair of Philosophy & Law at King’s College London. After earning his Bachelor’s degree from Stanford, he went to Harvard to study with John Rawls, and wrote his doctoral thesis on property rights with Robert Nozick and T.M. Scanlon. He is a Fellow of the Center for Ethics and Public Affairs at The Murphy Institute of Political Economy, ...more
Paul moved to LibraryThing
A lot of hard work went into this book and it is a worthy subject. I applaud the sentiment even if I don't share the love for communist thinkers.

One idea that hasn't occurred to the authors is that people might not be as good as they think they are and this is the founding block for their suggested solution to the problem. They will be disappointed.

They will also be disappointed with economics because in their clever plan the nation paying the money into that clean fund will not be China but the
...more
Laura Bermejo
May 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A very interesting book to learn the basis of how the world works today. It was the first non-fiction book I´ve read in years, and even if at the beginning was a little tough, as the chapters and the information about the world trade, the social differences and the autocracy governments goes on, it becomes more and more interesting. The sensation after reading Blood Oil is sad, because of what´s going on, but the message is optimistic, because if humans have reached many achieves lately in topic ...more
Rachel
Oct 04, 2019 rated it liked it
I learned a lot from this book in terms of how the resource curse really works and how policies in importing countries could improve the situation. Some parts of this book were super interesting. However, I think I could have learned about the same amount if the content had been condensed a bit. The book was a bit repetitive at times, and there was too much time spent venturing off into abstract philosophy that just didn't do much for me or was perhaps over my head. I listened to the audio versi ...more
Ro
Nov 10, 2019 rated it liked it
An interesting and well-written treatise on the political economy and moral philosophy of oil and other natural resources, as they relate to the various authoritarian regimes and warlord factions that profit from them. There is a lot of good research and powerfully arguments here about the nature of oil regimes, and the history of how humans have viewed issues of state sovereignty and who has the rights to resources. It gets a little repetitive at times, however, possibly because the intent was ...more
Vibhor Sahay
Jan 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Well it easy to imagine that this book is about oil and the evil associated with it. But the more intriguing and enlightening angle of this book is the discussion on the legal apparatus by which blood oil is made available for legitimate use for the rest of the world.
The history of oil extracting countries and the economics and politics associated with it were well described with context. Counter intuitively, most of the oil countries that have been "blessed" with this natural resource have reg
...more
George Pipiou
Nov 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
A thought-provoking account of the moral and causal responsibility Western consumers bear for the perpetuation of authoritarianism in resource-rich, developing countries. Although a philosophical text, it is easily accessible to the average reader thanks to Wenar’s smooth prose style. If this book makes you uncomfortable, then it has achieved its purpose!
Nick Harriss
This is an interesting book, covering some very important topics. The negative is that it goes over the same ground several times to make its point, which becomes rather tedious, and is a shame as it distracts from the message.
Paul Dietz
May 17, 2017 rated it did not like it
Tired collectivist arguments and a poor understanding of Economics makes this book painful to read.
Philip Hanna
Nov 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
Quite heavy and big of a slog but interesting book
Alan Newton
Mar 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
An excellent book, that is clearly well researched and does well to bring together various complex and difficult themes, with well-thought out conclusions.
Christine B.
I wanted a history/political science book, but this book was more of a policy treatise with a bit of history on the side. So there were a lot of informative bits, but not really my jam. (I also think it could have been edited a bit to be shorter.)

But I did learn what "popular resource sovereignty" is, so there's that. And there analysis of the relationship between resources and dictatorship was really helpful. Basically: I loved the first 1/3 of the book, but I didn't quite need the rest of it.
...more
Darren
Nov 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Even those who keep their ears firmly closed to news and current affairs can surely not have failed to discover that people fight over oil. Fighting is everywhere, whether it is at nation state-level or further down the food chain, with terrorists stealing and smuggling oil to finance their activities.

This fascinating, engaging book looks at how democracy and development is being impeded in oil producing and exporting countries. This impacts the world, as many strive to lead an ethically focusse
...more
Susan
Jan 11, 2016 rated it really liked it
Blood Oil seeks to make the reader aware of how purchasing numerous items that we consume without much thought, be they clothes, electronics or food, which were produced with petroleum and its by-products, are potentially propping up authoritarian rulers who have misappropriated revenues by selling their countries resources without any oversight.

Wenar argues that natural resources of a country rightly belong to the sovereign people and not to an individual dictator, authoritarian leader, middle
...more
Nate Jenson
Mar 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This book was amazing. Few books have had such a profound impact on my understanding of the world. Terrorism, wars, extremism, make a lot more sense within the context of understanding that this book provides.

Aside from the phenomenal way the author deals with the topic, the book has two primary things going for it:

First, it's amazingly well-researched. About 200 pages of the 650 something pages is for references.

Second, the author does a great job of sharing international economic concepts in a
...more
Chuck Heikkinen
Dec 06, 2015 rated it really liked it
An important book. Describes how the "might makes right" posture relative to exploitation of natural resources not only contributes to world dissension, it also flies in the face of the stated ideals of many countries, including the USA. The author also sketches a path toward creating more citizen awareness of and control over how natural resources are being used, and power to say no without reprisal. ...more
Brian Lutz
May 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing
"At your best, you are conditionally trusting, and unconditionally trustworthy. Hard-headed and soft-hearted, a pessimist of intelligence and an optimist of will. You reach confidently across boundaries to join your energies with others so that together you are stronger and free. You are powerful and counter-powerful. You are connective. You should rule the world." ...more
Jim
Feb 04, 2016 rated it really liked it
In depth look at the oil business worldwide. Ton's of information. Well written. ...more
Lee
Dec 27, 2016 added it
Sensational and empowering book rendering philosophy as an urgent priority effecting all of us and our environments. Beautifully and powerfully written .
Shana Yates
Apr 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history-world
3.5 stars. This is a difficult book to review or sum up. It looks at the various resource-rich countries in the world where the resource wealth has abetted sub-par, violent, and/or non-existent government. It is part history, part economics lesson, part psychology, part political science primer, and part philosophy. On the pro side, the author's view is clearly rooted in an ethical hope for and vision of the world; sometimes it seems a bit Pollyanna-ish, but the sentiment is welcome where many f ...more
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