How Big Oil Conquered the World

 

How Big Oil Conquered the World

 

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From farm to pharmaceutical, diesel truck to dinner plate, pipeline to plastic product, it is impossible to think of an area of our modern-day lives that is not affected by the oil industry. The story of oil is the story of the modern world. And this is the story of those who helped shape that world, and how the oil-igarchy they created is on the verge of monopolizing life itself.

Oil. From farm to pharmaceutical, diesel truck to dinner plate, pipeline to plastic product, it is impossible to think of an area of our modern-day lives that is not affected by the petrochemical industry. The story of oil is the story of the modern world.

Parts of that story are well-known: Rockefeller and Standard Oil; the internal combustion engine and the transformation of global transport; the House of Saud and the oil wars in the Middle East.

Other parts are more obscure: the quest for oil and the outbreak of World War I; the petrochemical interests behind modern medicine; the Big Oil money behind the “Green Revolution” and the “Gene Revolution.”

But that story, properly told, begins somewhere unexpected. Not in Pennsylvania with the first commercial drilling operation and the first oil boom, but in the rural backwoods of early 19th century New York State. And it doesn’t start with crude oil or its derivatives, but a different product altogether: snake oil.

 

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