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Book Review

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British Petroleum and the Redline Agreement: How America's Oil Addiction Created a Legacy of Deceit and War

February 2nd 2012

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British Petroleum and the Redline Agreement. Edwin Black. 2011. Dialog Press. 277 pages.

British Petroleum and the Redline Agreement: The West's Secret Pact to Get Mideast Oil is the third and latest entry in an series of books written by award-winning investigative journalist Edwin Black that tackles the issues surrounding automobiles, energy, and transportation. The previous two books are Internal Combustion and The Plan: How to Rescue Society the Day the Oil Stops. As with all of his other books, Black relies upon a crack research team to uncover and compile an exhaustive trove of heretofore unknown factual information and data.

Buy it here. See Book TV here.

To me, as a dedicated free-market capitalist and defender of American ideals, I would like to believe that the story of petroleum oil exploration should be one of entrepreneurial glory. Instead, the more I learn about the corruption and machinations employed by British Petroleum and its industry cohorts and competitors, the more I realize that we have been the victims of oil’s subjugation for well over 100 years.

With the rise of industrialization and the advent of the automobile and other forms of engine-powered transportation, the world needed a standardized source of fuel for the new machines. That fuel could easily have been a fuel produced by virtually anyone using organic materials. However, a fuel based on simple vegetation or human waste, and a common distillation process that couldn't be patented left little on the table for those who sought unbridled power and wealth. British Petroleum and the Redline Agreement reads like the most exciting Tom Clancy novel entwined with a devious international conspiracy worthy of Ian Fleming’s wildest James Bond adventure; although even for a 007 yarn it might run the risk of being considered too implausible a plot. Buy it here.

Yet, Black’s new book is not a work of fiction or a historical novel that borrows bits and pieces of fact to spice-up a make-believe tale. This is the real thing, the real story. The book opens with startling details of the most tragic global event to occur between the September 11th attacks and the Japanese Tsunami - the BP Oil Disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. It then reaches back to mid 19th century America to explain the founding of the oil industry, before moving half a world away to the troubled oil-rich vastness that became known as the Middle East. For the first time, it is possible to clearly understand the transformation of Mesopotamia into Iraq, Persia into Iran, and how a Hashemite tribal leader came to be installed as the King of Iraq – a land he had no right to rule.

British Petroleum and the Redline Agreement exposes the hidden truths that led to two world wars, countless regional conflicts, millions of dead servicemen and civilians, economic depression, wide-spread health hazards and rampant global terrorism. Although I'm reluctant to describe a book of this magnitude as entertaining, it is certainly that. But more importantly, it is an instructive, fascinating account that is even more relevant today since the subject is at the heart of the current “greatest” financial depression, and because the next oil-induced world war would probably conclude with a cataclysmic exchange of nuclear weapons.

Although this is not an American story, per se, it provides a remarkable discourse on how America gave away its domestic petroleum oil resources to corporate greed, sacrificed the lives of its military personnel to help one set of foreign governments conquer the oil resources of another set, and then allow control of those resources to slip through our fingers into the hands of dictators, despots and ultra-avaricious politicians and businessmen.

This is also not a story of right versus left, capitalism versus socialism, democracy versus autocracy, or religious discord. The players in this authentic drama hail from all sides of the political spectrum, all philosophies, and all religions. The only constant is their fanatical drive for wealth and power. British Petroleum and the Redline Agreement is Edwin Black at his investigative best.

Cutting Edge Contributor Marc J. Rauch is Executive Vice President and Co-Publisher of The Auto Channel.


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