The Prize

The Prize

The Epic Quest for Oil, Money & Power

Free Press, 1993
First Edition: 1991




  • Innovative


This significant tome is Daniel Yergin’s fascinating, 1992 Pulitzer prize-winning account of the personalities, politics, adventures and misadventures behind the evolution of the ruthless global oil business. This authoritative, intelligent and highly entertaining book reports on the past, present and future of the commodity that shapes the world power struggle. Yergin delves knowledgeably into fulcrum events. For example, shortly before World War I, Winston Churchill made the fateful decision to convert British navy’s fuel from coal to Iranian oil. This decision set off the modern Western quest for Middle Eastern oil. The world is still feeling its wrenching impact, and Yergin shows how and why. getAbstract finds that this book provides an essential context for understanding today’s international conflicts.


Inside Oil

Three overarching themes emerge from the history of the oil business:

  1. Oil is intertwined with capitalism and modern corporations – Oil is the world’s largest business. It powers the industry that developed modern pricing, marketing, corporate strategy and technology, both in the U.S. and internationally. Yet despite these deliberate efforts, luck, fate, risk and reward also have shaped the industry. It is so profitable that seven of the top 20 Fortune 500 firms are oil companies.
  2. Oil is intrinsic to international politics and economics – World War I helped define oil’s geographical boundaries as replacement for the horse and the coal-fired engine. In World War II, Japan, Germany and the Allies all coveted oil. Japan attacked Pearl Harbor to gain access to oil in the East Indies, while the Nazis sought control of the oil fields in Russia’s Caucasus Mountains. After WWII, oil was the prize at stake in the 1956 Suez Crisis, which marked the end of European colonial power. Since the 1970s, oil has played a large role in the Iraq wars. It drove U.S. misadventures in Mexico, Russia and...

About the Author

Daniel Yergin heads an international energy consulting firm. A former lecturer at the Harvard Business School and at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School, he co-authored the bestseller Energy Future. His book Shattered Peace is a classic history on the origins of the Cold War.

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