A feisty Canadian journalist (Toronto Star) reviews the history of the oil industry, identifies some villains and some heroes (precious few of the latter) and tries to understand—not sanction—the thinking of Middle Eastern terrorists.
McQuaig writes with a brisk, often ironic, sometimes bitter, always skeptical style about what may be the most significant issue of our time. Her research is thorough, her attitude patent throughout. She wonders why the U.S. news media have failed to address what she believes is obvious—that the 2003 invasion of Iraq was for the oil, stupid. Weapons of mass destruction, democracy, human rights—these were faux bones thrown to a toothless media, who have gnawed them fatuously. She views today’s giant oil corporations as the principal villains, and the evidence she amasses—from the days of John D. Rockefeller to the present—is staggering and may give pause to even the thirstiest of oil-drinkers. McQuaig hardly limits herself to Iraq. She looks at the oil histories of Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Iran, Libya, Nicaragua and Venezuela and notices that we ignore brutality in countries that keep the oil flowing; we attack—often with diplomats and propaganda, sometimes with missiles—those whose leaders wish to keep the profits at home. She offers a stunning chapter about SUVs, highlighting the poor design of the vehicles, their deadliness (they kill—at an alarming rate—the occupants of other cars they hit), their wastefulness—and their popularity. She examines the issues of global warming and Third World poverty. She sometimes wanders into Conspiracy World, wondering, for example, if the U.S. tacitly countenanced the 1990 Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, providing an excuse to establish a permanent military presence in the region. In what will surely prove to be most controversial, she tries to see the world the way terrorists see it—an approach that many have considered taboo, even obscene, since 9/11.
Social and political history fired by research and boiling with attitude.