Saturday, May 12, 2012

PRIVATE EMPIRE by Steve Coll

The chairman of Exxon/Mobil once stated that his company need not concern itself with America since his was not an American company but an international company.  Indeed, like Coca-Cola, most of its revenue comes from overseas, where its hold is greater and its influence stronger. Corporate headquarters in Texas, where the wife of CEO Lee "Iron Ass" Raymond once socialized with the wife of global warming denier Dick Cheney, is called "the God Pod."  Yet it lobbies Washington like the banking industry does in order to avoid regulation, even when it spills oil in Valdez or becomes involved in civil wars.  PRIVATE EMPIRE by Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Steve Coll is the full story of this largest of corporations, narrated by Malcolm Hillgartner, whose mellifluous yet authoritative voice is always a pleasure to hear, and ideal for the material.  Indeed, performing the audiobook's sometimes Clive Cussleresque passages, Hillgartner is privy to such intrigue here that the TV show "Dallas" looks like a tale of prancing pixies by comparison, with the political scope of the story extending back through generations of presidents, kings, dictators, and despots.  The book explores both the history of the oil industry and the secrets behind the scenes of its biggest player, including how the current CEO has come to acknowledge the science behind oil's impact on climate change, and has begun steering the company to a greener future---before it becomes too late.

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