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Untapped: The Scramble for Africa's Oilby John Ghazvinian
Synopses & Reviews
Although Africa has long been known to be rich in oil, extracting it hadnand#8217;t seemed worth the effort and risk until recently. But with the price of Middle Eastern crude oil skyrocketing and advancing technology making reserves easier to tap, the region has become the scene of a competition between major powers that recalls the nineteenth-century scramble for colonization there. But what does this giddy new oil boom meanand#151;for America, for the world, for Africans themselves?
John Ghazvinian traveled through twelve African countriesand#151;from Sudan to Congo to Angolaand#151;talking to warlords, industry executives, bandits, activists, priests, missionaries, oil-rig workers, scientists, and ordinary people whose lives have been transformedand#151;not necessarily for the betterand#151;by the riches beneath their feet. The result is a high-octane narrative that reveals the challenges, obstacles, reasons for despair, and reasons for hope emerging from the worldand#8217;s newest energy hot spot.
"With American relations in the Middle East on shaky ground, the U.S. government and the petroleum industry have turned to Africa as a new source of oil, investing more than a billion dollars a year in the continent since 1990. China and India are also looking to African crude oil, which is 'lighter' and 'sweeter' than its Arab counterpart and thus requires less costly refining, to fuel their booming economies. So Ghazvinian, an Oxford historian armed with 'a suitcase full of notepads and malaria pills, and a sweaty money belt stuffed with $100 bills,' toured a dozen oil-producing nations to see how they'd been affected by the oil boom. What he finds is internal strife: in Nigeria, the only thing that keeps one group of interview subjects from assaulting him is that he doesn't work for Shell. Later, an official in the 'self-parodying burlesque of a tin-pot kleptocracy,' Equatorial Guinea, makes a not-so-veiled threat after soliciting a bribe falls through. Even more stable nations have their problems: in Gabon the national economy was so transformed by oil that the government has to import most of its food from neighboring countries. Ghazvinian's ground-level interviews bring perspective to the chaos, though readers may wish for a map to follow his path through the unfamiliar territory." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
Book News Annotation:
In 2001, Iranian-born Ghazvinian (history, U. of Pennsylvania) set out on a six-month trip through 12 sub-Sahara African countries to get some first-hand information about challenges, obstacles, and reasons for hope and despair concerning oil from the region. He talked to politicians and political prisoners, economists and oil-rig workers, warlords and rebel militia leaders, diplomats and bankers, and others. He also visited Washington, London, and Paris. The result is a snapshot, he says, of a moment when Africa seems on the verge of playing in the big game. Annotation ©2007 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
To find out how the new oil boom is affecting Africa, Ghazvinian traveled the country for a firsthand look. The result is a high-octane narrative that reveals the challenges, obstacles, reasons for despair, and reasons for hope emerging from the worlds newest energy hot spot.
About the Author
JOHN GHAZVINIAN has a doctorate in history from Oxford. He has written for Newsweek, the Nation, Time Out New York, and other publications. Born in Iran and raised in London and Los Angeles, he currently lives in Philadelphia, where he teaches in the Critical Writing Program at the University of Pennsylvania.
Table of Contents
1. THE ONSHORE EFFECT 17
2. THE OFFSHORE ILLUSION 83
3. A COUNTRY IN AFRICA” 126
4. INSTANT EMIRATES 166
5. PARADISE FOUND? 207
6. THE PLACE WHERE PEOPLE WAIT 245
7. THE CHINESE ARE COMING! . . . BUT WHO ISNT? 274
A Note on Sources and Suggested Further Reading 302
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