Opinionated, cogent perspectives on the role of fossil fuels in human history.
Following a doubtless accurate claim that controlling the supply of oil and finding substitutes for the stuff “will shape much of the social, political, and military history of the twenty-first century,” Marrin opens with a petro-centric tale of wars. These range from an Egyptian conflict in the 4th century BCE to the War on Terror (“really the war for oil in disguise,” he suggests) and the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan. He also reviews the course of the Industrial Revolution (noting that automobiles were initially welcomed as being “cleaner, healthier, and safer” than horses), then goes on to analyze the hazards of our oil dependence, recap major oil spills and consider both the benefits and dangers of alternative energy sources. Well-surveyed territory this all may be, but the author’s beneficent portrait of John D. Rockefeller, his references to British “terrorism” in the Middle East and other heterodox views give it distinctive angles. Moreover, the urgency of his message that something has to change comes through clearly.
Required reading on a topic that can only grow in importance to readers who will be living that “social, political, and military history.” (endnotes, index, black-and-white photos) (Nonfiction. 11-14)