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Extended Audio Sample Crude World: The Violent Twilight of Oil, by Peter Maass Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (217 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Peter Maass Narrator: Dominic Hoffman Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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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 Chávez’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.

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Quotes & Awards

  • Peter Maass takes a fascinating, nightmarish journey to the far end of the pipeline. If you want to know the true cost of America's oil addiction—and if even you don't—you should read this book. Elizabeth Kolbert
  • With the clarity of a hard-boiled investigator and the grace of a fine writer, Peter Maass reveals how oil has cursed the countries that possess it, corrupted those who want it, and wrought havoc on a world addicted to it.  Brilliant and compelling. Robert B. Reich
  • “Crude World gets its energy from Peter Maass’s exhaustive investigation and first-hand experience and results in an illuminating narrative of the true impact of the global dependence on oil. His engaging historic perspective brings clarity to what should come next.  This book is essential reading for these times and for anyone interested in making the right decisions about our energy future. Robert Redford
  • Getting off oil is a great idea for a lot of reasons, like saving the planet's climate. But Peter Maass gives us another set of bonuses. If you think drug dealing is a dirty business, then meet the biggest drug of all. Bill McKibben
  • Impressively well informed . . . 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. Adam Lashinsky, San Francisco Chronicle
  • Perpetually informative . . . Maass’s book is in a class by itself, as he constructs his relentless indictment on a foundation of first-rate reporting and superb writing. Steve Weinberg, USA Today
  • Maass inserts himself into the story, teases out its human drama and does not shy from issuing a personal verdict. This can be tricky territory; not every first-person journalist emerges with his credibility intact. But Maass, whose judgments are always informed by the historical record, extensive interviews and time on the ground, pulls it off. Mark Sorkin, The Nation
  • Riveting . . . What journalists like Maass do best is dig beneath all the nation-building plans, appeals to the national interest and professions of selflessness on the part of politicians and investors. Robert Vitalis, London Review of Books
  • Unflinching . . . Engrossing . . . Equal parts Heart of Darkness and Mad Max. Charles Homans, Washington Monthly
  • Powerfully written. Michael Hirsh, The New York Times Book Review
  • A spare, engaging work of reporting. Robert D. Kaplan, The Wall Street Journal
  • Bravely reported . . . Compelling. Carlo Wolff, The Boston Globe
  • A lucid account that places readers in the big picture . . . [Peter Maass’s] truths are painful and unavoidable . . . Maass may . . . be a hero; he has written a very brave book. Dan Dervin, Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star
  • Maass is a disciplined reporter and crafts a fine tale. Crude World is a chilling read—excellent and informative along the way. Arthur Jones, Energy Metro Desk
  • Sharp . . . Maass succeeds in portraying an energy crisis mostly ignored or misunderstood in the developed world. Michael Peel, Financial Times

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Ann | 2/19/2014

    " This book should be mandatory reading for every literate person in the world. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Beau | 2/19/2014

    " This one is less about what the future may or may hold than it is about the past and present of oil and the effect (largely negative) it tends to have on the countries where it is discovered and extracted. One interesting thing I learned was why so many countries that have large oil reserves are so poor. Garden variety corruption is part of it, but it also has to do with the poor countries having no leverage when it comes to negotiations; they have the oil, but they usually require the resources and expertise of companies in richer nations to extract and refine it. Therefore they get poor royalty rates for the oil, and relatively little is returned to the developing country's economy. A lot of the time they also put all of their economic eggs in the oil basket (so to speak) and go through boom-bust cycles along with oil prices, which is never a good way to have a healthy economy. The author is a great investigative journalist, but the book could have been a bit more focused...it kind of meanders along from country to country and ends rather abruptly without a conclusion beyond "oil poisons almost everything it touches." "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 by Matt | 1/29/2014

    " Not really a great book - as others have said, sort of reads like a long magazine article. No heavy hitting analysis, though the author does manage to get interviews with some key players in the oil industry. The main point of this book is: oil is a dirty and corrupt business. While some of the examples of how disturbing it is are memorable, for the most part, this is a book that tells you things you already know. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Meredith | 1/19/2014

    " Good, but geesh, isn't there *anything* nice to say about oil? Genocide, environmental devastation, global warming, "human rights" little more than an abstraction...it makes one wonder if those folks who constructed our civilization would have done anything differently if only they'd known what they were getting us all into. "

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