Synopses & Reviews
“Relying on a rich cache of previously classified notes, transcripts, cables, policy briefs, and memoranda, Andrew Cooper explains how oil drove, even corrupted, American foreign policy during a time when Cold War imperatives still applied,”* and tells why in the 1970s the U.S. switched its Middle East allegiance from the Shah of Iran to the Saudi royal family.
Amid the oil shocks of the early 1970s, there was one man the U.S. could rely on: the Shah of Iran. The Shah sold us oil; we sold him weapons. But the U.S. and other industrialized economies could not tolerate repeated annual double digit increases in oil prices.
During the 1976 election campaign, President Gerald Ford decided that he had to find a country that would break the OPEC monopoly and sell the U.S. oil more cheaply. On the advice of Treasury Secretary William Simon—and against the advice of Secretary of State Henry Kissinger—Ford made a deal to sell advanced weaponry to the Saudis in exchange for a more moderate price hike in oil. The Shah’s economy was destabilized, and disaffected elements mobilized to overthrow him. The U.S. had embarked on a long relationship with the autocratic Saudi kingdom that continues to this day.
Brilliantly reported and filled with astonishing details about some key figures of the time, The Oil Kings is a new history of an era that we thought we knew, an era when momentous events occurred that still reverberate today.
“The role of oil in the foreign policy of the United States is the subject of endless conspiracy theories. The reality is both more mundane and more startling than the conventional wisdom would have it. Andrew Cooper has lifted the lid from a crucial period of U.S. policy. Mining a rich lode of previously unreleased documents, Cooper uses the very words of the protagonists to tell a story so sensitive that it has remained virtually covert. In doing so, he sheds surprising new light on U.S.-Iranian relations and the origins of the Iranian revolution.”
—Gary Sick, author of All Fall Down: America’s Tragic Encounter with Iran and former member of the National Security Council
"Adds significant insight to one of the most important periods in the American relationship with petroleum. . . . [The Oil Kings
] excels by virtue of focus, discipline, and original research. Supporting his account, Cooper draws from significant sources - most of which were classified until recently - that re-create the personal relationships that proved crucial to world history."
—Brian Black, The Christian Science Monitor
"Relying on a rich cache of previously classified notes, transcripts, cables, policy briefs and memoranda, Cooper explains how oil drove, even corrupted, American foreign policy during a time when Cold War imperatives still applied. . . . The most compelling dimension to Cooper’s narrative is the story of U.S-Iran relations, particularly during the Nixon and Ford administrations. . . . A revelatory, impressive debut."
“As uprisings today rock the Muslim world, with America at war across the region, Andrew Cooper transports us back to where it all began: with the startling diplomatic and military machinations of the seventies, when oil first became a global weapon and the White House was roiled by Vietnam and Watergate. Meticulously researched, vividly told, with an inside-the-room intimacy, The Oil Kings
reminds us of the ultimate folly of America’s efforts to dominate world events—especially through its co-dependency with rival petro-states. This is an important and powerful book.”
—Barry Werth, author of 31 Days: The Crisis That Gave Us the Government We Have Today
"Scintillating diplomatic history. . . . Cooper gives a lucid analysis of shifting oil markets and unearths revelations . . . from meticulous research. . . . Its centerpiece is Cooper's superb, lacerating portrait of Henry Kissinger. As the super-diplomat's obsession with great-power rivalries founders in a new world of global economics that he can't fathom, Cooper gives us both a vivid study in sycophancy and backstabbing and a shrewd critique of Kissingerian geo-strategy."
“[Cooper] skillfully mines previously classified documents to make clear that high-profile inmates were running the foreign-policy asylum.”
—Paul Jablow, Philadelphia Inquirer
and#8220;[A] compelling chronicle of America's involvement with Middle East petroleum states.and#8221; andlt;BRandgt; and#8212;Michael Hiltzik, andlt;Iandgt;The Los Angeles Times andlt;BRandgt; andlt;/Iandgt;
While America struggles with a recess ion, oil prices soar, revolution rocks the Middle East, European nations risk defaulting on their loans, and the world teeters on the brink of a possible global financial crisis. This is not a description of the present, however, but the 1970s. In andlt;Iandgt;The Oil Kings, andlt;/Iandgt;Andrew Cooper tells the story of how oil came to dominate U.S. domestic and foreign policy. andlt;BRandgt;andlt;BRandgt;Drawing on newly declassified documents and interviews with some of the key figures of the time, Cooper follows the political posturing and backroom maneuvering that led the U.S. to switch to OPEC as its main supplier of oil from the Shah of Iran, a loyal ally and leading customer for American weapons. The subsequent loss of U.S. income destabilized the Iranian economy, while the U.S. embarked on a long relationship with the autocratic Saudi kingdom that continues to this day. andlt;BRandgt;andlt;BRandgt;Brilliantly reported and filled with astonishing revelationsand#8212;including how close the U.S. came to sending troops into the Persian Gulf to break the Arab oil embargo and how U.S. officials offered to sell nuclear power and nuclear fuel to the Shahand#8212;andlt;Iandgt;The Oil Kings andlt;/Iandgt;is the history of an era that we thought we knew, an era whose momentous reverberations still influence events at home and abroad today.
About the Author
Andrew Scott Cooper is a Ph.D. candidate in American history with advanced degrees in strategic studies from the University of Aberdeen in Scotland and in journalism from Columbia University in New York. He has worked for the United Nations, Human Rights Watch, and other nonprofit organizations.