Thursday, May 29, 2014

The Secret World of Oil, by Ken Silverstein

Staff Review by Chris Saliba

Investigative journalist Ken Silverstein uncovers the murky deals, collusion and money-grubbing that lies at the centre of the global oil industry.

It fuels the global economy, but do we really know much about how the oil business is run? How are the deals done, interests protected and most importantly, who are the characters making all the money? Ken Silverstein, a senior investigative reporter with First Look Media, travels to all corners of the globe to interview key figures and conduct research into the murkier side of the oil trade.

Silverstein concentrates on the fixers, lobbyists, PR agents and other players who work in an area where transactions are borderline legal and often morally questionable. Energy resources are often found in Third World countries, which means that dictators, crooks and gangsters are the powerful deal makers. Western democracies, ever eager to get access to oil and gas, are ready to hold their noses while schmoozing these unsavoury characters.

Tony Blair (“the human cash register”) is a case in point and gets a whole chapter devoted to his pecuniary interests. Since leaving parliament he has made a motza in consulting and speaking fees, with clients including several Caspian Sea oil companies.

Arguably the best chapter is the last one on Louisiana, a petroleum rich American state. Silverstein speaks to lobbyists, politicians, PR agents, lawyers and businessmen, drawing a depressing picture of environmental vandalism and an oil industry powerful enough to virtually set the legislative agenda. Silverstein shows that wherever there is oil in abundance, corruption, collusion and deal making are sure to follow.

The Secret World of Oil brims with top class investigative journalism. Ken Silverstein’s work shows careful research and a willingness to travel all lengths to get an interview and a story. His writing helps to pull back the veil and show the reader what happens behind the scenes in the all-powerful oil industry. It’s a scary story of greed, vandalism and corruption that’s not to be missed.

The Secret World of Oil
, by Ken Silverstein. Published by Verso Trade. ISBN: 9781781681374  RRP: $32.99

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