Private Empire

ExxonMobil and American Power

By Steve Coll
Penguin Press, Hardcover, 9781594203350, 685pp.

Publication Date: May 1, 2012

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Description
Winner of the Financial Times and Goldman Sachs Business Book of the Year Award 2012
An extraordinary and monumental expose 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.




About the Author
Steve Coll is a writer for "The New Yorker" and author of the Pulitzer Prize- winning "Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan, and Bin Laden, from the Soviet Invasion to September 10, 2001," He is president of the New America Foundation, a public policy institute in Washington, D.C. Previously he served, for more than twenty years, as a reporter, foreign correspondent, and ultimately as managing editor of "The Washington Post," He is also the author of "On the Grand Trunk Road, The Deal of the Century, and The Taking of Getty Oil," Coll received a 1990 Pulitzer Prize for explanatory journalism and the 2001 Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award for outstanding international print reporting and the 2000 Overseas Press Club Award for best magazine reporting from abroad. "Ghost Wars," published in 2004, received the Pulitzer for general nonfiction and the Arthur Ross award for the best book on international affairs.



NPR
Thursday, May 3, 2012

Steve Inskeep talks to Steve Coll about his new book, Private Empire: ExxonMobil and American Power. In it, Coll delves into the business model of one of the country's largest and most profitable corporations. He explores how the Exxon Valdez oil spill in 1989 shaped the culture at the company for years to come. More at NPR.org

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NPR
Wednesday, May 2, 2012

In Private Empire, investigative journalist Steve Coll explains how ExxonMobil has used its money and power to wield significant influence in Washington, D.C., concerning issues like climate change. More at NPR.org

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