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Poisoned Wells: The Dirty Politics of African Oil
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Poisoned Wells: The Dirty Politics of African Oil

3.77  ·  Rating details ·  93 Ratings  ·  14 Reviews
Each week the oil and gas fields of sub-Saharan Africa produce over a billion dollars worth of oil, yet this rising tide of money is not promoting stability or development but instead is causing violence, poverty and stagnation. 'Poisoned Wells' exposes the root causes of this paradox of poverty from plenty.
Hardcover, 280 pages
Published April 2nd 2007 by Palgrave MacMillan (first published March 20th 2007)
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Simon Wood
Aug 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing

"Posioned Wells" is the first book by the author of that excellent exposition of Tax Havens - "Treasure Islands". The subject of this book is the experience of West African oil producing countries, with particular focus on the question of why these repositories of vast mineral wealth have not been able to direct their wealth into meaningful and sustained development.

While there is certainly a degree of generalising on these countries experiences, the format the book takes is that o
Eugenia O'Neal
May 06, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: corruption, oil
This was an insightful read into how, in the absence of strong measures to ensure good governance, African oil wealth has, for the most part, only generated corruption. The author looked at each country that had, up to the time of publication, discovered oil within its borders or near its shores and examined the role multi-nationals, international persons of influence and political (or military) leaders played in diverting the wealth from going toward the greater good of all the people. Shaxson ...more
Jun 12, 2007 rated it really liked it
I liked the book, easy to read and very interesting about the politics of oil in africa. i'm not sure i agree with him that the real issue is corruption or with his recommendation for how to fix it, but I learned a lot! Plus, I met the author here in Amsterdam and he's super nice and very knowledgeable.
Holly Morrow
A really interesting book about the "dirty politics of African oil" -- the role that oil money has played in enabling some of the worst African dictators (Obiang, Abacha, etc;) and creating incredibly distorted societies where, for example, the Gabon has the world's highest per capita consumption of French champagne, alongside desperate poverty. The author is a reporter, and it reads like journalism, which is a strength and weakness: neat, lively stories but without scholarly rigor and with sign ...more
Jul 28, 2014 rated it liked it
I tried and tried, but I just couldn't manage to finish this. Even so, I am giving it three stars because it's informative and well written, but... There's far too much detail in here for someone seeking a general overview of the topic -- I'd have needed a degree in contemporary African politics to keep all the places and people straight. I also didn't like the structure of the book, where each chapter is about a person who is somehow tied to or embodies the evil that oil has wrought in a partic ...more
Anandh Sundar
Jan 22, 2011 rated it really liked it
This book on the exploitation of Africa details the 'natural resource curse' on Africa that because of its abundant oil/minerals, the corrupt elite flourish with no incentive to keep the people happy. What differentiates this book from other working papers/studies is the author's reporting experience in a vast swathe of the continent which he uses to write 10 case studies, one on each country. While the solution he proposes may seem idealistic today(Alaska type distribution of royalties to each ...more
Oct 21, 2007 rated it really liked it
Certainly not an academic text by any means. The author, a journalist, was clearly looking for a storytelling outlet where he could be less than poltically correct. You kind of get the feeling he's not always telling the whole story. Still, the book is an entertaining peek into the world of African oil and governance. Nicholas Shaxton has the appropriate experience to guide the reader on a journey through this dark world and his writing is fairly solid.
Jun 18, 2009 rated it liked it
This is a more anecdotal overview of the rush for African oil to exploit by outside corporations and countries. It is an easy-read and a good intro. I am preferring other more academic books on the subject.
May 21, 2009 added it
Shaxson has undeniable cred in the world of African oil. He has a million stories and as many leads on corruption in that world but the names, countries and scandals (most of which are complex) defeated me. I couldn't keep them separate. I quit 2/3rds into the book.
Jan 23, 2009 added it
very good
David Smith
Jul 25, 2011 rated it it was amazing
One of the best I've read in a long time.
Sophie MH
Jan 17, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: politics
Amazing read. You will not listen to / watch the news about the current African Oil politics and wars the same way after you carefully read these short true stories. Enlightening.
Feb 11, 2008 rated it liked it
A ggod to book read along with Dead Aid of Dambisa Mayo
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Shaxson was born in Malawi and has lived at various times in India, Brazil, England, Lesotho, Spain, Angola, South Africa, Germany and the Netherlands. Since 1993 he has written on global business and politics for the Financial Times, Reuters, the Economist and its sister publication the Economist Intelligence Unit, International Affairs, Foreign Affairs, American Interest, the BBC, Africa Confide ...more
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