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This book does not require recent events in the Persian Gulf to make it an essential addition for most public libraries as well as all college libraries. Written by one of the foremost U.S. authorities on energy, it is a major work in the field, replete with enough insight to satisfy the scholar and sufficient concern with the drama and colorful personalities in the history of oil to capture the interest of the general public. Though lengthy, the book never drags in developing its themes: the relationship of oil to the rise of modern capitalism; the intertwining relations between oil, politics, and international power; and the relationship between oil and society in what Yergin calls today's age of ``Hydrocarbon Man.'' Parts of the story have been told as authoritatively before, e.g., in Irvine Anderson's Aramco: The United States and Saudi Arabia ( LJ 7/81), but never in as comprehensive a fashion as here.-- Joseph R. Rudolph Jr., Towson State Univ., Md.

Energy consultant Yergin limns oil's central role in most of the wars and many international crises of the 20th century. ``A timely, information-packed, authoritative history of the petroleum industry, tracing its ramifications, national and geopolitical, to the present day,'' said PW. Photos. Author tour. (Nov.)

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