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The Age of Oil: The Mythology, History, and Future of the World's Most Controversial Resource

The Age of Oil: The Mythology, History, and Future of the World's Most Controversial Resource

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Sixty years ago, a British diplomat was questioned about the morality of his government's policies in the Middle East. "The world," he responded, "runs on oil, not on quaint notions of right or wrong." With the soaring price of oil now threatening to spur a dreaded inflationary cycle here and abroad, those words certainly resonate. There is understandable anxiety, even hysteria, regarding the future cost and availability of this vital resource.

Maugeri has attempted to explain to lay readers how the oil industry developed, how it works, and where it is headed. The history of oil, Maugeri illustrates, has always been characterized by cycles of booms and busts, but they are caused by market factors, not malevolent conspiracies. The present danger, he claims, is that panicky or ambitious politicians will make current problems far worse. Maugeri minimizes the threat of blackmail by oil--producing nations, and he dismisses fears that the world is running out of oil. Environmentalists and those who demand reliance on alternative renewable-energy sources will dispute many of his assertions. Still, this is a valuable effort to explain the issues. Jay Freeman