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From Barnes & NobleBarnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers
Few would argue against the notion that oil equals wealth. Few, that is, except the average citizens of Africa's oil-producing countries. Of course, big money is being pumped into the area just as oil is being pumped out -- $50 billion will be spent, nearly one-third of it by the United States, over the next three years. Almost without exception, from Nigeria to Chad, Congo to Angola, Sierra Leone to Equatorial Guinea, a pattern emerges: There is precious little percolation of oil wealth from top to bottom.
The lack of proper monetary distribution fuels other problems. Greed unites local politicians and foreign oil executives, to the detriment of nearly everyone else. Inflation, driven by the influx of foreign currency, further impoverishes villagers; agriculture, once the foundation of their economies, collapses, and the onetime breadbasket nations of the continent can no longer feed even themselves. Starvation, corruption, and myriad social ills follow.
Ghazvinian traveled to each country to assess the situation, an often-dangerous enterprise that made possible this thoughtful (and despite its serious subject matter, wholly entertaining) assessment of both the pitfalls and potential of oil exploration on Africa. With observations as witty as they are wistful, he illuminates a murky mega-business in a distant part of the world, which impacts our lives, and even more, the lives of those living in its shadow every day. (Summer 2007 Selection)