Private Empire

Private Empire

ExxonMobil and American Power

Book - 2012
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Winner of the Financial Times and Goldman Sachs Business Book of the Year Award 2012

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

In Private Empire 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 four hundred interviews; field reporting from the halls of Congress to the oil-laden swamps of the Niger Delta; more than one thousand 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.
Publisher: New York : Penguin Press, c2012.
ISBN: 9781594203350
Characteristics: 685 p. :,maps ;,25 cm.


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Dec 25, 2016

Outstanding research and writing. Since this was published in 2012, four years before Rex Tillerson was chosen to be Trump's Secretary of State, Coll's conclusions and revelations are all the more interesting. Tillerson's predecessor, Lee Raymond, was Dick Cheney's buddy so the closeness between ExxonMobil and the Bush White House isn't surprising. But Raymond got out at a good time (if losing the war and ruining the economy can be considered good) because things got tougher when Tillerson took over. So now looks like a good time for Tillerson to step out before things get worse in Indonesia, Nigeria, Equitorial Guinea and Venezuela. On the other hand, it appears that Tillerson has a friend in the Kremlin and he will certainly play that card even if he is theoretically not involved at ExxonMobil.

Illya1 Jul 15, 2013

A nice book to read to still has any illusions that our country is good. All those ideas are toss aside and completely destroyed. I am amazed that the American government allowed to publish this book. Excellent research and investigation of the Oil industry and anybody related to it. Anybody who read this book cannot say that people like Dick Chenny, George Bush and even Bill Clinton have American Interests best at heart. It expoeses the ugly truth of Oil business and what is takes to go to the top.

Mar 22, 2013

Negative rating for lack of valid scholarship and research: Coll, the president of the New America Foundation (principally funded by Peter G. Peterson's Peterson Foundation [protege of David Rockefeller, his mentor] and the Pew Charitable Trusts [the oil company people]), passes on the popular mythology that Rockefeller's Standard Oil was really broken up into 34 individual companies. As we know from John Moody's "The Masters of Capital" this was only broken up on paper, and from various other sources we know that holding companies were created, stocks were transferred to them, obfuscating the true ownership or lack of actual divestiture. We also know how this was done, thanks to William C. Moore's "Wall Street" which explains that Standard Oil was traded in the Curb Market then (not the New York Stock Exchange) thus making opaque the ownership of their assets during this so-called break-up. Coll can't or won't tell us the real ownership of ExxonMobil, because he's paid not to. (ExxonMobil is essentially Standard Oil, only bigger and more powerful today.)

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