Finding Oil: The Nature of Petroleum Geology, 1859-1920

Finding Oil: The Nature of Petroleum Geology, 1859-1920

by Brian Frehner


View All Available Formats & Editions
Members save with free shipping everyday! 
See details


Oil has made fortunes, caused wars, and shaped nations. Accordingly, no one questions the idea that the quest for oil is a quest for power. The question we should ask, Finding Oil suggests, is what kind of power prospectors have wanted. This book revises oil’s early history by exploring the incredibly varied stories of the men who pitted themselves against nature to unleash the power of oil.  
Brian Frehner shows how, despite the towering presence of a figure like John D. Rockefeller as a quintessential “oil man,” prospectors were a diverse lot who saw themselves, their interests, and their relationships with nature in profoundly different ways. He traces their various pursuits of power from 1859 to 1920 as a struggle for cultural, intellectual, and professional authority, over both nature and their peers. Here we see how some saw power as the work they did exploring and drilling into landscapes, while others saw it in the intellectual work of explaining how and where oil accumulated. Charting the intersection of human and natural history, their story traces the ever-evolving relationship between science and industry and reveals the unsuspected role geology played in shaping our understanding of the history of oil.  
Purchase the audio edition.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780803290624
Publisher: Nebraska
Publication date: 12/01/2016
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 248
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

Brian Frehner is an associate professor of history at Oklahoma State University. He is the coeditor of Indians and Energy: Exploitation and Opportunity in the American Southwest.

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations



Part 1. Local Knowledge

1. Vernacular Authority in the Oil Field

2. Collaborative Authority: Nineteenth-Century Foundations of Petroleum Geology

Part 2. Contested Knowledge

3. Shared Authority: Practical Oil Men and Professional Geologists

4. Institutional Authority: Field Work, Universities, and Surveys

Part 3. Appropriated Knowledge

5. Geology Organized: Henry L. Doherty's Technological System





Customer Reviews