Synopses & Reviews
A stunning and revealing examination of oil's indelible impact on the countries that produce it and the people who possess it.
Every unhappy oil-producing nation is unhappy in its own way, but all are touched by the resource curse — the power of oil to exacerbate existing problems and create new ones. In Crude World, Peter Maass presents a vivid portrait of the troubled world oil has created. He takes us to Saudi Arabia, where officials deflect inquiries about the amount of petroleum remaining in the country's largest reservoir; to Equatorial Guinea, where two tennis courts grace an oil-rich dictator's estate but bandages and aspirin are a hospital's only supplies; and to Venezuela, where Hugo Chavez's campaign to redistribute oil wealth creates new economic and political crises.
Maass, a New York Times Magazine writer, also introduces us to Iraqi oilmen trying to rebuild their industry after the invasion of 2003, an American lawyer leading Ecuadorians in an unprecedented lawsuit against Chevron, a Russian oil billionaire imprisoned for his defiance of Vladimir Putin's leadership, and Nigerian villagers whose livelihoods are destroyed by the discovery of oil. Rebels, royalty, middlemen, environmentalists, indigenous activists, CEOs — their stories, deftly and sensitively presented, tell the larger story of oil in our time.
Crude World is a startling and essential account of the consequences of our addiction to oil.
"Thousands of books about the oil culture exist in English, and thousands more in other languages. Maass...constructs his relentless indictment on a foundation of first-rate reporting and superb writing." USA Today
"The strength of Crude World, filled with vivid reporting, is that it leaves you no option but to care." The Observer
"Maass is a keen observer, a fine storyteller and forceful writer, and his book is a readable gem for anyone seeking a primer on the history of oil and its geopolitical ramifications." The San Francisco Chronicle
may wind up shelved in the growing library of books that chart paths toward a sustainable future, but it belongs in a different class. The book is not about oil policy or the energy crisis, at least not primarily; it is a moral reckoning with basic instincts." Mark Sorkin, The Nation
(read the entire Nation review
About the Author
Peter Maass is a contributing writer to The New York Times Magazine and has reported from the Middle East, Asia, South America and Africa. He has written as well for The New Yorker, The Atlantic Monthly, The Washington Post and Slate. Maass is the author of Love Thy Neighbor: A Story of War, which chronicled the Bosnian war and won prizes from the Overseas Press Club and the Los Angeles Times. He lives in New York City.