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November 24 , 2007

Crude World: The Violent Twilight of Oil

The Violent Twilight of Oil


Oil makes the world work. It has become so vital that even a small reduction in output can cause economic chaos. We know that our reliance on oil is potentially disastrous but what we are less clear about is the terrible damage it inflicts on the countries that produce it. The people who should benefit most from the riches of oil are, quite often, harmed by it.

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Crude World offers a passionate look at some of the most awful places in the world - the violent, repressive and polluted countries where oil is extracted. Peter Maass follows the journey of oil and shows how the substance sullies so much of what it touches, poisoning land and rivers, promoting political bloodshed and creating corruption on a staggering scale. We tend to gauge the price of oil by its cost at the petrol station or its role in global warming, but Maass vividly shows an altogether different price paid by people who live in countries that are rich in petroleum but not wealth or freedom. He shows how the profits of oil benefit mainly the companies and governments that receive royalty cheques and will do more or less anything to sustain the flow of money.

From Nigerian fishermen to Moscow oligarchs, from American generals in Iraq to environmentalists in Ecuador, from British executives to Saudi jihadists, Peter Maass connects the dots and shows how our relationship to oil is so deadly. Crude World is a magnificent piece of reportage that reveals the price others pay for the lives we lead.

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