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The King of Oil: The Secret Lives of Marc Rich

3.97  ·  Rating details ·  795 Ratings  ·  57 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, and apartheid South Africa; ...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
Kristian Reinertsen
Aug 26, 2012 rated it liked it
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
Sep 22, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Alan Menachemson
Jan 24, 2015 rated it liked it
Interesting. Pure capitalism. No coincidence that he was influenced by Ayn Rand. The book makes a good case that he was unfairly victimized, but personally I think that ethics are as important as acting within the law. And assisting evil regimes to avoid sanctions is not ethical
Aug 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
Overall, the book The King of Oil was a favorable book because of the interesting life of a businessman that trades oil, Marc Rich. The book is written from the information gathered in multiple interviews between Rich and the author. I felt the book could've been more thorough with the author doing research and adding that into the book. The author overall did a successful job on spending the correct amount of time on the different parts of Rich’s life. It’s challenging for an author to cover so ...more
Trung Nguyen Dang
May 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
The book is written by a business editor through interviews with Marc Rich (who has founded what was later known as Glencore) and people close to him or his matters. I felt there was too little on Marc Rich himself (how he is like as a person, how he conducts his businesses ...) and too much on his case with the US (probably accounts for 40% of the book). Nevertheless, it's still a great piece of work on a man who has been so quiet and shy from publicity. We finally get to hear his side of the s ...more
Aug 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
great book on a great subject.
May 07, 2010 rated it liked it
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
Sep 20, 2011 rated it it was ok
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
Feb 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: biography, business
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
Apr 29, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Mugizi Rwebangira
It's an easy enjoyable read overall but I had 3 main problems with it:

(1) We don't learn enough telling details about Marc Rich. It feels more like a newspaper profile than a real in-depth biography. It's obvious none of the people interviewed really "spilled the beans" and that Daniel Ammann did not get access to private correspondence that has those juicy quotes which make for good biographies.

(2) We don't learn enough about commodities trading. The details that are provided are pretty generic
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
Luke Schiefelbein
Jan 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
An interesting life story and expose on what really happened geopolitically in the 1980s between the US and other countries, particularly those in the Middle East. Much of what I used to think of as conspiracy theory is shown to be fact, and frankly I lost a lot of blind US patriotism as well. Marc Rich is discussed fairly, though perhaps a little too fairly sometimes. Bottom line, he made a lot of money (legally or illegally) off the suffering of poor countries, plowed that money into Israel, a ...more
Angie Eikens
Mar 07, 2014 rated it liked it
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
Mar 05, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 21, 2016 rated it really liked it
Amman does a great job examining the moral arguments the government and competitors levied against Rich, and paralleling them to what others in the free market do and have done. In bringing up these moral and ethical restraints with Rich, the reader has the opportunity to get a glimpse into Rich's thought process, and decide for themselves.

My favorite part was the last chapter: the interview with Mark, where he is probed on his thoughts on geopolitics, charity, and the Arab-Israeli peace proces
Aug 10, 2012 rated it really liked it
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.
Jan 31, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: energy
Very Entertaining biography. I didn't know who Marc Rich was before reading this book and became interested in reading about his life after I heard from a friend that he is the founder (?) of Glencore. I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested in reading about history of oil or curious about oil trading.
Mar 24, 2014 rated it did not like it
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.
Apr 04, 2011 rated it it was ok
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.
Oct 15, 2010 rated it it was ok
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.
Thomas Cooper
Mar 07, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting insight into someone who was a reasonably significant figure in the global economy. Particularly interesting is the cat & mouse game with the US extradition authorities. It was as much interesting to hear the stories of a master wheeler dealer.

More than anything else however, an interesting alternate view of the western geopolitics.
George Andrew
The founder of what became glencore.

Nice read. I just wish it would have delved into the details of his trades.
Great insight on how the grip of Big Oil and the petroleum exporting countries was gradually loosened with the introduction of the spot market.
John Lambrou
Dec 11, 2016 rated it liked it
Interesting account of events. The amounts of money bandied about are jaw dropping. Don't think it was very well written however, seemed a little biased. Would recommend if you like business stories.
Harssha Shetty
Oct 15, 2016 rated it really liked it
Captivating Book for anyone who wants to understand the macro economics and a bit of History- economics- business links. Commodities moves the world economy and is shaken by the world economy. Read this book to understand the underlying links
Mar 30, 2013 rated it really liked it
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.
Jul 03, 2011 rated it really liked it
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...
Jun 25, 2010 rated it liked it
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.
Jan 25, 2011 rated it liked it
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.
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