Though Walton bases most of this on the ""awesomely comprehensive"" two-volume American Petroleum Industry, a study financed by the American Petroleum Institute, he is not one to be seduced by the industry bias--nor is this an attack on America's favorite composite villain. Rather it is a reasonable and readable guide to the history and politics of oil--through all the disorganized, hit-or-miss beginnings, wasted barrels, and varied early uses (mostly for illumination); the Rockefeller machinations, all-powerful trusts, and aborted trust-busting; the Seven Sisters' staggering profits, price posting, and tax avoidance; and the formation of OPEC and growing world importance of the oil-producing nations. Though early chapters roughly parallel Butterworth's Black Gold (1975), Walton has a sharper sense of the relevant. And where Butterworth almost ignores the Middle East and devotes his post-WW II coverage to mechanics of drilling, transporting, cleaning spills, etc., Walton provides a summary and analysis of oil company practices abroad, the OPEC nations' response, and the implications of their new power for our foreign and domestic policies. A convenient, clarifying report to date, and useful background for whatever is to come.