There is not much market for reviews of books published almost a decade and a half ago, so without further ado, my thoughts on The Prize, by Daniel Yergin. This evaluation is overdue because I started reading the book when I bought it, back in 1997. I put it down around page 400 (which is a little more than halfway), so this review is likely, very likely, to be stronger on the second half of the book.
Yerginâ€™s subtitle is The Epic Quest for Oil, Money & Power, which gives both theme and thesis. The title, if I am remembering an early part of the book correctly, comes from a statement made about oil by Winston Churchill: “The prize was mastery itself.â€ The argument is that understanding oil is central to understanding the twentieth century and, by extension, the world today. To complaints that the war in Iraq is “all about oil,â€ the only proper answer is “Of course.â€ The last centuryâ€™s major conflicts, and many of its smaller ones, were driven by oil, determined by oil, or both. Without an understanding of oil, much of the period will remain opaque.