“This is a four star book, even though I wish the author had followed a central time line in detailing the last twenty + years of Exxon history. Mr. Cole chose to silo the various story lines so that their complexity would be easier to follow, but I think with overlapping time lines we would have gotten an even better feel for the complexity of Exxon's worldwide businesses.
The book opens with Exxon's penultimate disaster, the Exxon Valdez, and closes with BP's Deepwater Horizon, bookending a time frame in history when ExxonMobil make record profits, stonewalled the world on global warming, defined the US Government repeatedly, and exemplified the spirit of the great American corporation.
Mr. Cole, a two time Pulitzer Prize winner, does a masterful job of balancing the many sides of Exxon's business story and the people involved. He presents world wide examples of how the company juggles production area human rights/politicians/environmental concerns, US politicians and activists, and international politicians and activists, all in order to make a very respectful American profit for its stockholders. You come away from the book with respect for the company but also wondering if the profit motive is always the best motive. Here is a link to some of the questions the book posed to me.
http://georgewparkertalking.blogspot.com/2012/10/apple-vs-exxon.htmlGeorge W Parker
You can find all by blogged reviews at http://georgewparkertalkingbookreviews.blogspot.com/”
“Starting this book on 9-7-2012.
'Lee Raymond, the president of Exxon Corporation and then its number-two executive, heard about the grounding of the Exxon Valdez while on company business in Jacksonville, Florida. Raymond had helped to design the ambitious reorganization plan that had eliminated more than 40 percent of the corporation's employees in the years before the wreck. He was in Jacksonville because Lawrence Rawl had sent him there to scout real estate. As part of their campaign to remake Exxon, Rawl and Raymond had decided to move the company's head office out of Manhattan; Jacksonville was a possible destination. As he absorbed the news from Alaska, Raymond said later, he was 'chagrined . . . horrified and to an extent devastated.' His wife, Charlene, told him,'It's the first time I have ever been embarrassed that we work for Exxon.' "
"Raymond and Charlene had both grown up in modest circumstances in the American heartland. Both were devout Christians. Raymond's Plains-bred parents had raised him as a member of the Evangelical United Bretheren in Watertown, South Dakota, a denomination that later became part of the United Methodist Church. Charlene came of age in a German Catholic family from Kohler, Wisconsin. They met at the University of Wisconsin and married when Raymond was twenty-three. Raymond converted to Catholicism and thereafter rarely missed a mass; in Saudi Arabia which banned Christian churches, he attended services inside the U.S. Embassy."
"Before the 1970s, Exxon, BP, and other large oil companies owned and operated large oil and gas fields in Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Iran, Venezuela, and elsewhere. Rising anticolonialism and nationalism stoked a period of upheaval that caused them to lose major properties. The twin anti-American oil embargoes of the 1970s signaled the arrival of the new era. The embargoes coincided with the rise of a price cartel, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (O.P.E.C.), which served the interests of oil-producing governments. In 1979, the Iranian Revolution's philosophy of Islamic self-determination advanced the spread of anti-Western political attitudes in Middle Eastern capitals. Populist leaders of oil-producing governments competed to prove themselves as resource nationalist - proud owners of their own geological wealth and unwilling to allow foreign corporations to possess a single barrel. Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Iran, Venezuela, Algeria, Libya, and other governments all seized back oil and gas fields from Western corporations, including Exxon.
" 'We in the media have made a lot of profits that ExxonMobil has made, particularly in the last couple of quarters - more than $1- billion in profits first quarter this year, $11.69 billion in the second quarter of the year. When people, I don't know, complain about that to you, or say, 'How dare you? Those profits are obscene.' What's your best - in brief form - what's your best justification?'
'Well, I think it has to do with the ability to understand just the size of our business. Everything we do, the numbers are very large. I saw someone characterize our profits the other day in terms of $1,400 in profit per second. Well, they also need to understand we paid $4,000 a second in taxes, and we spent $15,000 a second in cost. We spend $1 billion a day just running our business. So, this is a business where large numbers are just characteristic of it . . .' "
“A good insider view of the industry from an outsider. A rather neutral point of view that doesn't portray the Big Oils as the evil band of profit-hogging companies, but neither is it apologetic of their shortcomings and less-than-benevolent scheming. A valuable read on understanding the nature of the global oil and gas market and the challenges plaguing the industry. Thoroughly recommended read.”Syahir Hakim wrote this review Monday, September 3, 2012. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“Reviewed by Erik Spanberg on 6/4/12. ”MonitorBooks wrote this review Thursday, August 9, 2012. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“Interviewed by Colbert two weeks ago. Exxon basically is more powerful than the government and can make things happen while avoiding pesky rules and regulations. Too big to fail. ”Patrick Casey wrote this review Sunday, July 1, 2012. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No