Private Empire: ExxonMobil and American Power

( 17 )

Overview

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

In this, the first hard-hitting examination of ExxonMobil—the largest and most powerful private corporation in the United States—Steve Coll reveals the true extent of its power. 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 ...

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Overview

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

In this, the first hard-hitting examination of ExxonMobil—the largest and most powerful private corporation in the United States—Steve Coll reveals the true extent of its power. 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—featuring kidnapping cases, civil wars, and high-stakes struggles at the Kremlin—and the narrative is driven by larger-than-life characters, including corporate legend Lee “Iron Ass” Raymond, ExxonMobil’s chief executive until 2005. A penetrating, news-breaking study, Private Empire is a defining portrait of Big Oil in American politics and foreign policy.

Winner of the 2012 FT Goldman Sachs Business Book of the Year Award

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Editorial Reviews

The New York Times Book Review
…this book isn't so much a story of Exxon Mobil's influence over the American government. Rather, it's a picture of a corporation so large and powerful—operating in some 200 nations and territories—that it really has its own foreign policy…the book assuredly does what it sets out to do: show the inner workings of one of the Western world's most significant concentrations of unelected power.
—Adam Hochschild
The New York Times
[Coll's] new book, like his previous ones, is a big dig. Mountains of facts are mined, crushed and consumed as narrative fuel. If Mr. Coll were a corporation, you would want to impose a carbon tax on him. Private Empire is meticulous, multi-angled and valuable. It is also, perhaps surprisingly…impartial…It's among this book's achievements that it attempts to view a dysfunctional energy world, as often as not, through Exxon Mobil's eyes. The company is portrayed here, some egregious missteps aside, as possessing an honorable if rigid corporate culture that seeks to supply a product (unlike tobacco companies, to which it is often compared) that a functioning society actually must have.
—Dwight Garner
Ed Crooks
If there was ever a company that deserved a proper corporate biography, it is ExxonMobil.

As the world's largest non-governmental producer of oil and gas, and for several years the world's largest listed company by market capitalisation, it has been at the heart of many of the central issues of our time, from the debate over climate change to the war on terror. It is surprising that it has not been the subject of a serious book-length investigation until now.

The good news is that Private Empire is worth the wait. Meticulously researched and elegantly written, it is likely to be the definitive work on its subject for many years to come. Steve Coll, president of the centrist think-tank the New America Foundation, is honest about Exxon's strengths as well as its flaws, and presents both sides of the arguments with scrupulous even-handedness. Conclusions about whether the company is a force for good or ill in the world are left for the reader to decide.

The book does not trace Exxon's full history back to its roots as John D. Rockefeller's Standard Oil in the 1870s, which is in a way a shame: there are some instructive parallels to be drawn about the tensions between governments and the oil industry then and now.

But by choosing a shorter period - the 21 years between the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska and BP's 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico - Coll is able to focus more sharply on the story of Exxon's remarkable success in the modern world.

In a series of episodes, jumping around the globe from Indonesia to Chad to Iraq to Washington, he tells the stories of how the company has advanced the interests of its shareholders in its dealings with democratic governments, dictators and in¬surgents. At every stop there are vivid anecdotes, sharp insights and telling details.

In one striking image, Coll compares the chief executive of Exxon with the president of France or the chancellor of Germany: broadly friendly to US interests, in other words, but not always perfectly aligned with them.

The company has always had close ties to the US government, and that was particularly true under president George W. Bush because of the good relationship between Dick Cheney, the vice-president, and Lee Raymond, Exxon's chief executive from 1993 to 2005. Even then, though, Exxon's leaders always insisted on putting the company's needs first, and clashed with the administration over issues such as relations with Hugo Chávez, president of Venezuela, and Bush's ambition to cure the US of its 'addiction' to foreign oil.

It is Raymond who emerges as the book's anti-hero. Ferociously bright and frequently just plain ferocious, he was the dominant force at Exxon even before he formally took command, and picked his successor Rex Tillerson, who still leads the company.

As Coll explains, Raymond was responsible for many of the central features that have defined the company over the past two decades, including the engineering rigour and focus on safety - exhaustively overhauled following the Exxon Valdez oil spill - that have made Exxon the industry's most admired company for operational excellence. He was also the inspiration behind the company's vigorous rejection of the need to take action to avert the threat of climate change. That line has been modified under Tillerson, but the company still insists on the central role fossil fuels will play in energy supplies for decades to come.

Exxon is in a sense a living fossil. In the 1950s its peers as rulers of the US corporate landscape were companies such as US Steel, IBM and General Motors, and while they have to varying degrees fallen by the wayside, Exxon has continued to prosper.

Its financial success is undeniable: the company now has a higher credit rating than the US government.

The price, as Coll puts it, may be that "global warming on a scale scientists describe today as dangerous will occur".
Financial Times (US energy and industry editor)

SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE

"ExxonMobil has cut a ruthless path through the Age of Oil. Yet intense secrecy has kept one of the world's largest companies a mystery, until now. Private Empire: ExxonMobil and American Power is a masterful study of Big Oil's biggest player… Coll's in-depth reporting, buttressed by his anecdotal prose, make Private Empire a must-read. Consider Private Empire a sequel of sorts to The Prize, Daniel Yergin's Pulitzer-winning history of the oil industry… Coll's portrait of ExxonMobil is both riveting and appalling… Yet Private Empire is not so much an indictment as a fascinating look into American business and politics. With each chapter as forceful as a New Yorker article, the book abounds in Dickensian characters.”

Library Journal
Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Coll (Ghost Wars) combines a corporate history of the world's biggest energy company with a survey of energy geopolitics. He begins with the Exxon Valdez oil spill in 1989, suggesting that the ongoing public criticism it generated fostered a corporate culture that is conservative, defensive, highly disciplined, and focused on cost and efficiency. While Coll covers corporate leadership and the Mobil and XTO mergers, he concentrates on the company's relentless pursuit of replacement oil reserves, its tactics to mitigate threats from environmentalism and alternative fuels, and its attempts to influence government policy. He follows the company's maneuvers in politically unstable parts of the world such as Africa and Indonesia and shows how it has coped with nationalism in Russia and Venezuela. He closes with BP's Deepwater Horizon debacle and a summary of where the United States stands today with regard to the environmental and economic costs of fossil fuel dependency. VERDICT In a very long work, Coll manages to keep his text clear, informative, and at times riveting. Highly recommended for students of the energy economy as well as for motivated general readers. [See Prepub Alert, 11/21/11.]—Lawrence Maxted, Gannon Univ., Erie, PA
Kirkus Reviews
A thorough, sobering study of the pernicious consolidation of Big Oil. With admirable restraint, New Yorker contributor and two-time Pulitzer winner Coll (The Bin Ladens: An Arabian Family in the American Century, 2008, etc.) demonstrates how the merger of Exxon and Mobil has allowed the company to wield more power and wealth than even the American government, in the manner of John D. Rockefeller. Exxon had functioned as an independent corporate state since its antitrust breakoff from Standard Oil in 1911, and was ranked by profit performance in the top five corporations from the 1950s through the end of the Cold War. With the catastrophic spill of the Valdez in Alaska in 1989, the network of secrecy and internal security within Exxon was exposed but hardly tempered. The iron chief who emerged from the crisis, Lee Raymond, reappraised risk and security within the organization and took a hard line against efforts to extract from it punitive damages. Moving the headquarters to Texas in 1993, the company retrenched in its nose-thumbing determination to encourage and supply America's thirst for oil, casting around at more far-flung spots in the world that could provide the crude--such as where Mobil held attractive assets, in places like West Africa, Venezuela, Kazakhstan and Abu Dhabi. The Exxon-Mobil merger in 1999 created a global behemoth and also provoked small wars at drilling spots where the poor and disenfranchised deeply resented the foreign workers on native soil and disrupted the extraction by violence and insurgency. Raymond and his cohorts' cynical spin on the denial of global warming and the role of the burning of fossil fuels makes for jaw-dropping reading, as does the company's cunning manipulations of the war in Iraq to garner an oil deal. The Obama administration's emphasis on renewable energy sources and environmental concerns has barely challenged the formidable political power of Big Oil. Leaks, reserves, PACs, hydrofracking, bloated corporate profits and more: all pertinent concerns nicely handled by Coll in this engaging, hard-hitting work.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780143123545
  • Publisher: Viking Penguin
  • Publication date: 5/28/2013
  • Pages: 704
  • Sales rank: 236,551
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 1.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Steve Coll

STEVE COLL is most recently the author of the New York Times bestseller The Bin Ladens. He is the president of the New America Foundation, a nonpartisan public policy institute headquartered in Washington, D.C., and a staff writer for the New Yorker. Previously he worked for twenty years at the Washington Post, where he received a Pulitzer Prize for explanatory journalism in 1990. He is the author of six other books, including the Pulitzer Prize-winning bestseller Ghost Wars.

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Read an Excerpt

A few days before the Exxon Valdez ran onto Bligh Reef, tens of thousands of Hungarians marched through Budapest. The demonstrators turned the commemoration of an 1848 uprising against Austrian rule into a revolt against Soviet-backed communism. “Resign!” they shouted outside downtown buildings housing Communist Party bureaucrats. “Freedom! . . . No more shall we be slaves!” They carried flags from Hungary’s pre-Communist era and demanded the withdrawal of Soviet military forces. “Ivan, Aren’t You Homesick?” and “Legal State, Not a Police State” declared their protest signs.

The defiant march added to the cracks spreading that spring through the structures of global politics. The Berlin Wall fell a few months later, in November. The Soviet Union fissured and then disappeared. Democratic and free-market revolutions and revivals swept through Central Europe, Africa, Asia, and Latin America. Ethnic, religious, and territorial conflicts, long subdued by the cold war, erupted one after another. The world was remade, tossed, liberated—and reopened for international business.

The Valdez wreck stunned Exxon and its rising leader, Lee Raymond. The disaster would change the corporation profoundly. Internal reforms imposed by Raymond in response to the accident would turn one of America’s oldest, most rigid corporations into an even harder, leaner place of rule books and fear-inspiring management techniques. At the same time, Raymond and the rest of Exxon’s leaders would gradually pass through the introspection triggered by the Valdez spill and seek out the oil and gas plays that opened so unexpectedly after 1989. An age of empire beckoned America and Exxon alike.

In a bracingly short time, Anglo-American optimism and idealism about free markets, foreign investment, and the rule of law found adherents in the most unlikely world capitals. Brand-new nations brimming with oil and gas and others previously closed to Western corporations hung out FOR LEASE signs to lure geologists from Houston and London: Russia, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Angola, Qatar, and tiny Equatorial Guinea, on the West African coast, soon to market itself through its Washington lobbyists as the “Kuwait of Africa.” These post–cold war opportunities for American, British, French, and Italian oil companies could be ambiguous, risky, and sometimes fleeting. Resentful nationalism and suspicion of the United States and Europe persisted in many capitals of the new oil powers. State-owned petroleum companies from China, India, Brazil, and elsewhere were rising quickly as competitors. Exxon might be America’s largest and most powerful oil corporation, but it would require all the political influence, financial resources, dazzling technology, speed, and stamina that its leaders could muster to seize the lucrative oil deals made possible by communism’s fall and global capitalism’s revival.

The United States now stood unchallenged as a worldwide military power. Exxon’s empire would increasingly overlap with America’s, but the two were hardly contiguous. Pentagon policy, after the Soviet Union’s demise, sought to keep international sea-lanes free; to reduce the global danger of nuclear war, terrorism, and transnational crime; to manage or contain Russia and China; to secure Israel; and to foster, against long odds, a stable Middle East from which oil supplies vital for global economic growth could flow freely. Exxon benefited from the new markets and global commerce that American military hegemony now protected. Yet the corporation’s activity also complicated American foreign policy; Exxon’s far-flung interests were at times distinct from Washington’s. Lee Raymond would manage Exxon’s global position after 1989 as a confident sovereign, a peer of the White House’s rotating occupants. Raymond aligned Exxon with America, but he was not always in sync; he was more akin to the president of France or the chancellor of Germany. He did not manage the corporation as a subordinate instrument of American foreign policy; his was a private empire.

Exxon’s power within the United States derived from an independent, even rebellious lineage. The corporation had been hived off from John D. Rockefeller’s Standard Oil monopoly in 1911, after a bruising antitrust campaign led by economic reformers and populist politicians. The visceral hostility toward Washington sometimes eschewed by Exxon executives eight decades later suggested some of them had still not gotten over it.

Exxon’s size and the nature of its business model meant that it functioned as a corporate state within the American state. Like its forebearer, Standard, Exxon proved across decades that it was one of the most powerful businesses ever produced by American capitalism. From the 1950s through the end of the cold war, Exxon ranked year after year as one of the country’s very largest and most profitable corporations, always in the top five of the annual Fortune 500 lists. Its profit performance proved far more consistent and durable than that of other great corporate behemoths of America’s postwar boom, such as General Motors, United States Steel, and I.B.M. In 1959, Exxon ranked as the second-largest American corporation by revenue and profit; four decades later it was third. And more than any of its corporate peers, Exxon’s trajectory now pointed straight up. The corporation’s revenues would grow fourfold during the two decades after the fall of the Berlin Wall, and its profits would smash all American records.

As it expanded, Exxon refined its own foreign, security, and economic policies. In some of the faraway countries where it did business, because of the scale of its investments, Exxon’s sway over local politics and security was greater than that of the United States embassy. In impoverished African countries increasingly important to Exxon’s strategy, such as Chad, the weight of the corporation’s investments and the cash flow it shared with local governments overwhelmed the economy and became the central prize in violent local contests for power. In Moscow and Beijing, Exxon’s independent power and negotiating agenda competed with and sometimes attracted more attention than the démarches issued by American secretaries of state. Yet the corporation could also be insular and even passive in the faraway places where it acquired and produced oil and gas. It fenced off local operations and separated its workforce from upheaval outside its gates. If its oil fl owed and its contract terms remained intact, then Exxon often followed a directive of minimal interference in local politics, especially if those politics were controversial, as in the case of the African dictatorships with which the corporation partnered, or the countries, such as Indonesia and Venezuela, where civil conflict swirled around Exxon properties. In Washington, Exxon was a more confident and explicit political actor. The corporation’s lobbyists bent and shaped American foreign policy, as well as economic, climate, chemical, and environmental regulation. Exxon maintained all-weather alliances with sympathetic American politicians while calling as little attention to its influence as possible.

The cold war’s end signaled a coming era when nongovernmental actors—corporations, philanthropies, terrorist cells, and media networks— all gained relative power. Exxon’s size, insularity, and ideology made its position distinct. Unlike Walmart or Google (to name two other multinational corporations that would rise after 1989 to global influence), the object of Exxon’s business model lay buried beneath the earth. Exxon drilled holes in the ground and then operated its oil and gas wells for many years, and so its business imperatives were linked to the control of physical territory. Increasingly, the oil and gas Exxon produced was located in poor or unstable countries. Its treasure was subject to capture or political theft by coup makers or guerrilla movements, and so the corporation became involved in small wars and kidnapping rackets that many other international companies could gratefully avoid.

The time horizons for Exxon’s investments stretched out longer than those of almost any government it lobbied. “We see governments come and go,” Lee Raymond once remarked, an observation that was particularly true of Washington, with its constitutionally term-limited presidency. Exxon’s investments in a particular oil and gas field could be premised on a production life span of forty or more years. During that time, the United States might change its president and its foreign and energy policies at least half a dozen times. Overseas, a project’s host country might pass through multiple coups and political upheavals during the same four decades. It behooved Exxon to develop influence and lobbying strategies to manage or evade political volatility.

American spies and diplomats who occasionally migrated to work at Exxon discovered a corporate system of secrecy, nondisclosure agreements, and internal security that matched some of the most compartmented black boxes of the world’s intelligence agencies. The corporation’s information control systems guarded proprietary industrial data but also sought to protect its long-term strategic position by minimizing its visibility. Exxon’s executives deflected press coverage; they withheld cooperation from congressional investigators, if the letter of the law allowed; and they typically spoke in public by reading out sanitized, carefully edited speeches or PowerPoint slides. Their strategy worked: Exxon made a fetish of rules, but it rarely had to justify or explain publicly how it operated when the rules were gray.

As the Valdez wreck made obvious, Exxon’s massive daily operations—soon to produce 1.5 billion barrels of oil and gas pumped from the ground each year, and 50 billion gallons of gasoline sold worldwide—posed huge environmental risks. After the Valdez, Exxon would become again, as it had been in the first decades of Standard Oil’s existence, the most hated oil company in America.

When gasoline prices soared, American commuters felt powerless before its influence. In effect, Exxon was America’s energy policy. Certainly there was no governmental policy of comparable coherence. After fitful, failed efforts to wean itself from imported oil during the 1970s, the United States had evolved no effective government-led energy strategy. Its de facto policy was the operation of free markets amid a jumble of patchwork subsidies, contradictory rules, and weak regulatory agencies. The very weakness of policy favored Exxon. As the public’s frustration grew over rising pump prices and dependence on oil imports that transferred billions of dollars to hostile regimes overseas, Exxon became a natural lightning rod. The corporation managed this criticism with the same coolheaded patience and indifference that it employed to endure political risk in tinpot African dictatorships. Compromise was not the Exxon way.

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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

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 17 )
Rating Distribution

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(8)

4 Star

(6)

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Sort by: Showing all of 17 Customer Reviews
  • Posted May 4, 2012

    Know the Truth before you begin reading.

    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

    4 out of 13 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted May 2, 2012

    Frightening yet true. Disturbingly on-point and revealing. Mak

    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.

    4 out of 13 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 26, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Amazing and Fascinating - Hard to Put Down

    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

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 6, 2012

    Re: Anom. May 4, 2012

    Before you critique any book, may I show you the function of spell-check?

    2 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 27, 2013

    To random

    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

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 27, 2013

    Krisy

    Hey

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 27, 2013

    To random

    Im a female!!!!

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 27, 2013

    Random

    Your also sick!!#! Go get a life in real world instead of being a virtual nerd!!!!!!!!!!!!#######!!!!!!!:D

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 3, 2012

    This book was written for the reader that wants a book to be lon

    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

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 15, 2012

    Interesting and a little scary

    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.

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  • Posted June 19, 2012

    A great primer on a Transnational Corporation

    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.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 13, 2012

    Listened to on a roadtrip

    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.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 9, 2012

    Xavier

    Head to the next book over

    0 out of 13 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 2, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted May 16, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted May 12, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted June 5, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

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