Private Empire

  • by Steve Coll
  • Narrated by Malcolm Hillgartner
  • 24 hrs and 16 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

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 400 interviews, field reporting from the halls of Congress to the oil-laden swamps of the Niger Delta, more than 1,000 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.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Dense. But enjoyable

This is a really good book but incredibly long and at times the detail get in the way of the narrative. I also find the chronology skips about as different issues and projects are discussed which can be confusing.



That said, the story is engaging and well read. I didn't know much about the oil industry and this was an eye opening account of the power players. At its best this is riveting stuff.
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- Neil

Great book, butttt

This is a great book. More like a thriller than a work of non-fiction. That said I would recommend to Audible that they don't use character voices for this type of book. It is distracting and takes from the story.

Also the version I have has regular skipping noises in it. Not clear what the cause is. I reinstalled the app and redownloaded the book, but this did not improve it.
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- R

Book Details

  • Release Date: 01-05-2012
  • Publisher: Penguin Audio