A compact survey of the earth's natural resources, covering everything from Aluminum to Zinc, which doesn't just tell us that seven major oil companies dominate the petroleum industry and the diamond business is under one mighty thumb. It's also made clear that a mere 28 groups control the fuel we burn, the tobacco we smoke, the protein we eat, the wood in our homes, even the nickel covering the copper core of the so-called silver dollar. Social critic, former editor of The New Republic, and prolific author (The Closed Corporation, The Politics of Ecology, etc.), Ridgeway has performed a public service in making this information available--and dredged up a lot of intriguing curiosa as well. Did you know that vanilla was once used as an aphrodisiac? Cloves are mixed with tobacco for cigarettes? Black and white pepper come from the same berry vine? That in actual dollars, the market value of heroin and cocaine equals that of grain and metals? On the more solid side, he describes how ownership patterns developed and considers the present prospects in each case. Overall, however, he's not sanguine: ""The nations that produce them struggle to throw off a world economic system that yokes them to neocolonialism."" A bare-boned analysis, then, but the book as a whole will benefit the random researcher and delight addicts of stray facts.