The Oil Kings

  • by Andrew Scott Cooper
  • Narrated by Rob Shapiro
  • 19 hrs and 45 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Struggling with a recession... European nations at risk of defaulting on their loans... A possible global financial crisis. It happened before, in the 1970s.
The Oil Kings is the story of how oil came to dominate U.S. domestic and international affairs. As Richard Nixon fought off Watergate inquiries in 1973, the U.S. economy reacted to an oil shortage initiated by Arab nations in retaliation for American support of Israel in the Arab-Israeli war. The price of oil skyrocketed, causing serious inflation.
One man the U.S. could rely on in the Middle East was the Shah of Iran, a loyal ally whose grand ambitions had made him a leading customer for American weapons. Iran sold the U.S. oil; the U.S. sold Iran missiles and fighter jets. But the Shah's economy depended almost entirely on oil, and the U.S. economy could not tolerate annual double-digit increases in the price of this essential commodity. European economies were hit even harder by the soaring oil prices, and several NATO allies were at risk of default on their debt.
In 1976, with the U.S. economy in peril, President Gerald Ford, locked in a tight election race, decided he had to find a country that would sell oil to the U.S. more cheaply and break the OPEC monopoly, which the Shah refused to do. On the advice of Treasury Secretary William Simon and against the advice of Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, Ford made a deal to sell advanced weaponry to the Saudis in exchange for a modest price hike on oil.
Ford lost the election, but the deal had lasting consequences. The Shah's economy was destabilized, and disaffected elements in Iran mobilized to overthrow him. The U.S. had embarked on a long relationship with the autocratic Saudi kingdom that continues to this day.
Andrew Scott Cooper draws on newly declassified documents and interviews with some key figures of the time to show how Nixon, Ford, Kissinger, the CIA, and the State and Treasury departments - as well as the Shah and the Saudi royal family maneuvered to control events in the Middle East. He details the secret U.S.-Saudi plan to circumvent OPEC that destabilized the Shah. He reveals how close the U.S. came to sending troops into the Persian Gulf to break the Arab oil embargo. The Oil Kings provides solid evidence that U.S. officials ignored warning signs of a potential hostage crisis in Iran. It discloses that U.S. officials offered to sell nuclear power and nuclear fuel to the Shah. And it shows how the Ford Administration barely averted a European debt crisis that could have triggered a financial catastrophe in the U.S. Brilliantly reported and filled with astonishing details about some of the key figures of the time, The Oil Kings is the history of an era that we thought we knew, an era whose momentous reverberations still influence events at home and abroad today.


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Very informative

What did you like most about The Oil Kings?

The story narrates well and to the point. As this is my first book on this subject I can't say if it is better researched or otherwise. Needless to say, that the book has changed the way I read the news and I now check the financial/business papers to fathom 'actual' news. In fact, I'm now more prone to read news relating to 'oil' than rely on news headlines.

What did you like best about this story?

The book almost reads like a novel, yet it is not and it moves quite rapidly. It was difficult to step away from it as I needed to find out what the next chapter said.

What about Rob Shapiro’s performance did you like?

Very good!

Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?


Any additional comments?

I recommend this book to anyone who wishes to understand the current state affairs we find ourselves in. Western nations need to become less oil dependent or continue to be embroiled in Middle Eastern affairs.

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- Rosanella

Poignant tale of the fall of the paradise that was Iran

This book is thoroughly recommended for those interested in politics, business, the oil market, the Middle East and Iran in particular.

Excellent background to the buildup to the Islamic Revolution in Iran in 1979, framed from the perspective of the oil markets and US addiction to oil.

A sad tale of the souring of once vibrant US-Iran relations, though giving hope for the future of relations, given recent events.
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- Magic Marc

Book Details

  • Release Date: 09-08-2011
  • Publisher: Random House Audio