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BOOKS AND THE CULTURE What’s Good for the Seven Sist rs By Michael Plaster Austin GLUT BUBBLES SHORT-AGES DISRUPTIONS EMBARGOES ENTITLEMENTS DEPLETION ALLOWANCE PRORATIONING RESERVES OFFSHORE ONSHORE ARAMCO PAHLEVI CON-TROL DECONTROL RECON-TROL CARTEL QUADDAFI QUOTAS OLD GAS NEW GAS PETRODOLLAR KUWAIT -This as the language of the oil industry in the 1970s a language whose meaning was felt in our pocketbooks. The language is explained in Robert Sherrill’s recently-released The Oil Follies of 1970-1980, subtitles “How the Petroleum Industry Stole the Show \(And has written a thorough, analytical account of the people, issues, and events relating to the oil industry, his use of chronological format makes it difficult to follow a topic. In fact, the book is organized like an array of newspapers, periodicals, and government documents over the decade 1970-1980. This is unfortunate, for it does read like ten years of newspaper clips and lacks the impact a more thematic organization would have produced. Still, the Sherrill book represents a necessary and timely update. OIL FOLLIES is the most recent link in a line of written work on the oil majors that hasn’t had an adequate addition since Anthony Sampson’s The Seven Sisters, published in 1975, and John Blair’s The Control of Oil, published a year later. Sherrill does us all a favor by reflecting, in detail, on oil-related issues of the last decade that will influence the economic aspect of our lives for the rest of this century and beyond. What occurred in Michael Plaster is Energy and Natural Resources Specialist with the Texas AG’s office. the 70s was the single-most massive shift in wealth the world has experienced. And this, Sherrill contends, was not accomplished by the private entrepreneur responding to the exigencies of the marketplace but by the politics of darkness and guile. The nature of that darkness is well illustrated by Sherrill’s use of the Cornelius Vanderbilt quote, THE OIL FOLLIES OF 1970-1980 By Robert Sherrill New York: Anchor Press/Doubleday 1983; 580 pp., $19.95 “Law! What do I care about the law! Hain’t I got the power?” And, when the major oil companies found the legal system adequately profitable and without constraints on their desire for more, they quickly and easily caught the fever of patriotism. Sherrill provides an historical background to the decade of the 1970s and decade. \(The appendix is the one section of the book that is organized along clear lines of subject matter and provides one of the most concise, as well as condensed, outlines of antitrust history background recalls the economic dominance of John D. Rockefeller’s Standard Oil Company at the turn of the century of both railroads and pipelines and the lawsuit brought by the U.S. government against Standard Oil for monopolistic activities in violation of the Sherman Antitrust laws enacted just a few years earlier. Though Standard Oil was organizationally fragmented as a result of the precedent-setting antitrust case, its dismembered parts the corporate structures now known as Exxon, StanMobil went on to become the economic behemoths we now know. Thus, three daughters of Standard Oil joined their step-sisters British Petroleum, Shell, Gulf, and Texaco which we collectively know as the Seven Sisters. Sherrill does introduce readers to legislative attempts to restrain the oil majors from dominating an assortment of oil and energy markets, like those made during the reform decade of the 1930s. Of course, more of Sherrill’s time is spent identifying those legislative measures and political events that benefitted the oil majors, at times on behalf of the petroleum industry at-large, and on other occasions simply and purely for self-interest. In the battles that have been fought. the certainty of victory has always been on the side of the major oil companies. Adlai Stevenson III accurately summarized the history of the oil majors’ success: “What has passed for an energy policy in the past was made in the boardrooms of the nation’s major oil companies. Our national energy priorities have been based on the premise that ‘What was good for Exxon is good for the country.’ ” And: “Almost every time there has been a choice between what is best for Big Oil and what is best for the nation, Big Oil has won.” OIL FOLLIES presents a good historical view of American political involvement in the Middle East on behalf of the oil majors, starting with the CIAsupported overthrow of the popular, though naive, leader of Persian nationalism, Mohammed Mossadegh, and the reinstatement of the Pahlevi regime, whose Shah we came to know well. Sherrill contends that it was the greed of the major oil companies that gave impetus to OPEC’s boldness in the world oil markets and spurred the sheikdoms and autocracies of the Middle THE TEXAS OBSERVER 19