Private Empire: ExxonMobil and American Power

Private Empire: ExxonMobil and American Power

4.1 17
by Steve Coll

ISBN-10: 1594203350

ISBN-13: 2901594203359

Pub. Date: 05/01/2012

Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group

Winner of the Financial Times and Goldman Sachs Business Book of the Year Award 2012

An “extraordinary” and “monumental” exposé of Big Oil from two-time Pulitzer Prize winner Steve Coll (The Washington Post)

In Private Empire Steve Coll investigates the largest and most powerful private corporation in the

…  See more details below


Winner of the Financial Times and Goldman Sachs Business Book of the Year Award 2012

An “extraordinary” and “monumental” exposé of Big Oil from two-time Pulitzer Prize winner Steve Coll (The Washington Post)

In Private Empire Steve Coll investigates the largest and most powerful private corporation in the United States, revealing the true extent of its power. ExxonMobil’s annual revenues are larger than the economic activity in the great majority of countries. In many of the countries where it conducts business, ExxonMobil’s sway over politics and security is greater than that of the United States embassy. In Washington, ExxonMobil spends more money lobbying Congress and the White House than almost any other corporation. Yet despite its outsized influence, it is a black box.

Private Empire pulls back the curtain, tracking the corporation’s recent history and its central role on the world stage, beginning with the Exxon Valdez accident in 1989 and leading to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010. The action spans the globe, moving from Moscow, to impoverished African capitals, Indonesia, and elsewhere in heart-stopping scenes that feature kidnapping cases, civil wars, and high-stakes struggles at the Kremlin. At home, Coll goes inside ExxonMobil’s K Street office and corporation headquarters in Irving, Texas, where top executives in the “God Pod” (as employees call it) oversee an extraordinary corporate culture of discipline and secrecy.

The narrative is driven by larger than life characters, including corporate legend Lee “Iron Ass” Raymond, ExxonMobil’s chief executive until 2005. A close friend of Dick Cheney’s, Raymond was both the most successful and effective oil executive of his era and an unabashed skeptic about climate change and government regulation.. This position proved difficult to maintain in the face of new science and political change and Raymond’s successor, current ExxonMobil chief executive Rex Tillerson, broke with Raymond’s programs in an effort to reset ExxonMobil’s public image. The larger cast includes countless world leaders, plutocrats, dictators, guerrillas, and corporate scientists who are part of ExxonMobil’s colossal story.

The first hard-hitting examination of ExxonMobil, Private Empire is the masterful result of Coll’s indefatigable reporting. He draws here on more than four hundred interviews; field reporting from the halls of Congress to the oil-laden swamps of the Niger Delta; more than one thousand pages of previously classified U.S. documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act; heretofore unexamined court records; and many other sources. A penetrating, newsbreaking study, Private Empire is a defining portrait of ExxonMobil and the place of Big Oil in American politics and foreign policy.

Read More

Product Details

Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:

Table of Contents

List of Maps ix

Author's Note xi

Selected Cast Of Characters xiii

Prologue. "I'm Going to the White House on This" 1

Part 1 The End of Easy Oil

1 "One Right Answer" 25

2 "Iron Ass" 42

3 "Is the Earth Really Warming?" 67

4 "Do You Really Want Us as an Enemy?" 93

5 "Unknown Injury" 122

6 "E.G. Month!" 137

7 "The Camel and the Jackal" 154

8 "We Target Oil Companies" 177

9 "Real Men-They Discover Oil" 194

10 "It's Not Quite as Bad as It Sounds" 213

11 "The Haifa Pipeline" 227

12 "How High Can We Fly?" 250

13 "Assisted Regime Change" 280

14 "Informed Influentials" 301

Part 2 The Risk Cycle

15 "On My Honor" 331

16 "Chad Can Live Without Oil" 349

17 "I Pray for Exxon" 371

18 "We Will Need Witnesses" 394

19 "The Cash Waterfall" 408

20 "Moonshine" 435

21 "Can't the C.I.A. and the Navy Solve This Problem?" 451

22 "A Person Would Have to Eat More Than 3,400 Rubber Ducks" 478

23 "We Must End the Age Of Oil" 495

24 "Are We Out? Or In?" 508

25 "It's Not My Money to Tithe" 534

26 "We're Confident You Can Book the Reserves" 557

27 "One Plus One Has Got to Equal Three" 576

28 "It Just Happened" 601

Acknowledgments 625

Notes 629

Bibliography 659

Index 665

Read More

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network


Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >

Private Empire: ExxonMobil and American Power 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 16 reviews.
Man_Of_La_Book_Dot_Com More than 1 year ago
Pri­vate Empire: Exxon­Mo­bil and Amer­i­can Power by Steve Coll is a non-fiction book about the influ­ence Exxon­Mo­bil yields over world econ­omy and pol­i­tics. While the book has many aspects of the company’s agenda, whether it be sci­ence or pol­i­tics, with clar­ity and zest. The book is com­posed of 28 chap­ters, includ­ing excel­lent foot­notes and is divided into two parts. Part I is called The End of Easy Oil and part II is called The Risk Cycle. Instead of devot­ing another whole book (or two) for the com­plete his­tory of the com­pany, Mr. Coll chose to start with the Exxon Valdez inci­dent in March 1989 which shaped the com­pany as we know it today. The Exxon Valdez inci­dent was a defin­ing moment for the com­pany and is cov­ered in detail. It is a proper begin­ning (even though not “the” begin­ning) because it clearly shows how future CEO Lee Ray­mond would revamp Exxon’s struc­ture and behav­ior using the tragedy. Pri­vate Empire: Exxon­Mo­bil and Amer­i­can Power by Steve Coll is a com­pelling book about one of the biggest, most pow­er­ful and influ­en­tial Amer­i­can com­pa­nies ever cre­ated. One aspect of this book is fas­ci­nat­ing; the other is a dis­turb­ing to real­ize the sway a pri­vate entity has over the affairs of the union. Mr. Coll, a Pulitzer Prize win­ning author, quickly goes through the his­tory of the com­pany, from its incep­tion by John D. Rock­e­feller as Stan­dard Oil, through its break up by Trust Busters in 1911, the emer­gence of Exxon and the merger with Mobil Oil. Together with the United States, Exxon grew in power through­out the 20th Cen­tury to dom­i­nate the world’s oil mar­ket and wield sig­nif­i­cant polit­i­cal power. The author chose to write around the tenure of CEO Lee Ray­mond to tell the story. Through Raymond’s eyes the reader under­stands how deci­sions are made, gov­ern­ments come and go and the rise of this global pri­vate empire. The chap­ters I found fas­ci­nat­ing, and a bit fright­en­ing to be hon­est, were the ones involv­ing ExxonMobile’s secu­rity forces. After an exec­u­tive Sid­ney Reso has been kid­napped and killed Mr. Ray­mond revamped the com­pany from a secu­rity per­spec­tive. Essen­tially Exxon­Mo­bil became its own state with inter­nal secu­rity (filled with ex Secret Ser­vice agents), jet fleets, sol­diers (work­ing for Exxon­Mo­bil or for a for­eign gov­ern­ment which the com­pany paid) and a new build­ing designed for secrecy in Dal­las, TX. In all its rigid­ity, Exxon­Mo­bil changes with the times. After “invest­ing” $722,000 in polit­i­cal action com­mit­tee money in 2008 (I call it bribes), the com­pany decided to sup­port a car­bon tax once Obama was elected, adjust­ing its stance to con­tinue its close rela­tion­ship with Washington’s new administration. Through­out the book it is tol
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Im not here fr se.x im here to meet ew epople. Thats what my friend says it was she said it was a get to gether
brad58 More than 1 year ago
Got this book based on an interview on NPR with the author. Interesting from the point of view of how much influence and "reality" almost unlimited money can buy. The NPR reviewer was appalled at how Exxon was heavily funding the science calling into question global warming while the research arm was studying how they could use global warming to find and exploit oil. Not really surprising, if you think about it.
RedRagingRhino More than 1 year ago
Coll presents a fierce narrative on an oversized corporation that wields enormous power over the globe. If you do not figure out that the mega transnational corporations are in reality authoritarian governments serving a tiny elite, then you are not paying attention.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have been a fan of mr.coll's previous works based upon the simple abundancec of verifiable information, not necessarily because i agree with every conclusion. As with any work that involves something people feel strongly about, read the information and draw a conclusion, i think this book enables the reader to do that. I recommend it and look forward ro re-listening to it in the future to see if i feel differently about it after time and other books.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Before you critique any book, may I show you the function of spell-check?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Im a female!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Your also sick!!#! Go get a life in real world instead of being a virtual nerd!!!!!!!!!!!!#######!!!!!!!:D
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was written for the reader that wants a book to be long in reading. There are a a lot of repetitive information. I love economics but this book was the most trying I have ever read. The title was catching and peaked my interest but the insides couldn't keep me interested
firesidereader2 More than 1 year ago
Frightening yet true. Disturbingly on-point and revealing. Makes me want to hide my head in the sand or scream from the nearest rooftop--or vote Democratic. Yeah, that last one is the only one that really might work. Thanks to the author for putting this truth out there; it took guts, and I'm sure many ideologues will still be in denial...but let them do the legwork to try to disprove it.
chairo More than 1 year ago
So very maney of us in this country are reall, really tired of all the print media that is written from a slanted PC or liberal point of view. You can take any data and turn it into only one point of view and that is what I object to in this muck-raking, yellow journalism world view of this author and the publishing company behind him. Want to get Mr. Obama re-elected? Just write and publish books as this one. Written so one sided, Coll's book is profe our system works and also proves you can use our system to distart the true picture of a great company. Chairo