Private Empire by Steve Coll

62%

22 Critic Reviews

“Private Empire” is not as original and absorbing as Coll’s excellent Pulitzer Prize-winning “Ghost Wars,”...
-NY Times

Synopsis

An “extraordinary” and “monumental” exposé of Big Oil from two-time Pulitzer Prize winner Steve Coll (The Washington Post)



In this, the first hard-hitting examination of ExxonMobil—the largest and most powerful private corporation in the United States—Steve Coll reveals the true extent of its power. 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—featuring kidnapping cases, civil wars, and high-stakes struggles at the Kremlin—and the narrative is driven by larger-than-life characters, including corporate legend Lee “Iron Ass” Raymond, ExxonMobil’s chief executive until 2005. A penetrating, news-breaking study, Private Empire is a defining portrait of Big Oil in American politics and foreign policy.




 

About Steve Coll

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STEVE COLL is most recently the author of the New York Times bestseller The Bin Ladens. He is the president of the New America Foundation, a nonpartisan public policy institute headquartered in Washington, D.C., and a staff writer for The New Yorker. Previously he worked for twenty years at The Washington Post, where he received a Pulitzer Prize for explanatory journalism in 1990. He is the author of six other books, including the Pulitzer Prize-winning bestseller Ghost Wars. He lives in Washington and New York.
 
Published May 1, 2012 by Penguin Books. 700 pages
Genres: Business & Economics, Biographies & Memoirs, Education & Reference, History, Political & Social Sciences. Non-fiction
Bestseller Status:
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Peak Rank on May 20 2012
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Critic reviews for Private Empire
All: 22 | Positive: 11 | Negative: 11

Kirkus

Excellent
Apr 01 2012

Leaks, reserves, PACs, hydrofracking, bloated corporate profits and more: all pertinent concerns nicely handled by Coll in this engaging, hard-hitting work.

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Guardian

Good
Reviewed by Ian Pindar on May 31 2013

...shows how changes in the world oil industry since the 1950s meant the company had to adapt to survive. But its power remains unchecked, making this thorough and accessible portrait of the secretive corporation fascinating and deeply disturbing.

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Guardian

Excellent
Reviewed by Iain Morris on Jul 21 2012

Whatever one's perspective, Coll's work is a thoroughly researched and finely written portrayal of a business whose activities have profound implications for us all.

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NY Times

Below average
Reviewed by ADAM HOCHSCHILD on Jun 08 2012

“Private Empire” is not as original and absorbing as Coll’s excellent Pulitzer Prize-winning “Ghost Wars,”...

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NY Times

Above average
Reviewed by Dwight Garner on Apr 26 2012

Mountains of facts are mined, crushed and consumed as narrative fuel. If Mr. Coll were a corporation, you would want to impose a carbon tax on him.

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Globe and Mail

Below average
Reviewed by Roger Morris on May 18 2012

The author and his researchers are masterful at the encyclopedic, yet remind us that encyclopedias are inevitably summaries. Too often this is compilation without inner context, detail without meaningful depth.

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The Washington Post

Below average
Reviewed by Moisés Naím on May 11 2012

his reporter’s instincts to stick to the facts and let readers interpret their meaning is one weakness of this otherwise extraordinary book.

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The Telegraph

Excellent
Reviewed by Ian Thomson on Jul 30 2012

on the whole the book offers an admirably balanced analysis which allows us to make up our own minds about this most secretive of American corporations.

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Christian Science Monitor

Below average
Reviewed by Erik Spanberg on May 01 2012

In Private Empire – a book that, no doubt, will be described as exhaustive in reviews – Coll all but avoids dry holes in his wildcatting expedition to drill down into the story of a company that operates in many respects as its own nation.

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San Francisco Chronicle

Excellent
Reviewed by Bruce Watson on Apr 29 2012

Private Empire is not so much an indictment as a fascinating look into American business and politics. With each chapter as forceful as a New Yorker article, the book abounds in Dickensian characters.

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The Seattle Times

Excellent
Reviewed by Ken Armstrong on May 04 2012

Coll's work will be a stunning description and dissection of a corporation's struggles to balance technical expertise with occasional forays into social engineering.

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Open Letters Monthly

Below average
Reviewed by Greg Waldmann

If Private Empire has a major flaw, it’s that this wider context is too often left unexplored. The book is constructed like a series of interrelated magazine articles.

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The Daily Beast

Excellent
Reviewed by Jimmy So on May 06 2012

ExxonMobil’s business affects not only our consumption but our industries, geopolitical influence, health, environment, and human rights. Which makes Private Empire a brutally important book. Coll has forged the biography of “a corporate state within the American state,” as he so aptly calls it.

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Boston.com

Excellent
Reviewed by David Shribman

Steve Coll puts it in “Private Empire,’’ his powerful portrait of a powerful economic force,

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USA Today

Excellent
Reviewed by Steve Weinberg on Jul 22 2012

Coll is able to admire the professional skills and zeal within the corporation while simultaneously sometimes criticizing the ruthlessness and lawlessness that sometimes become apparent.

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Business Week

Below average
Reviewed by David Kamp on May 18 2012

More often than not, Private Empire is a compelling and elucidatory work, though its disciplined, very ExxonMobil-esque adherence to rigor and propriety does make for some moments of reader fatigue. (Would a light sprinkling of personality-based gossip or insouciant asides have hurt?)

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Book Forum

Excellent
Reviewed by Coral Davenport

Coll employs language that’s plain, clear, and free of accusation. Though some of the details recounted across the sprawling narrative of Private Empire are outrageous, the reporting is deep and fair.

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Business Insider

Excellent
Reviewed by The PolyCapitalist on Jul 06 2012

Coll's book is extremely well written and enjoyable to read. It provides a balanced, deeply researched examination of one of the world's largest and most powerful corporations and is highly recommended for anyone interested in learning more about Exxon Mobil and the geopolitical dynamics of the global oil industry.

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Columbia Journalism Review

Below average
Reviewed by Gloria Dawson on Aug 06 2012

The book travels the globe but rarely takes a moment to put all the pieces together. Private Empire is an engrossing account of one corporation, but in many ways it misses the chance to put the company into context. The detailed descriptions of events could easily be trimmed and concluded with contextual analysts.

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On Earth.

Below average
Reviewed by Jason Tanz on Apr 30 2012

Coll conducted hundreds of interviews to compile this exhaustive -- sometimes exhausting -- history of one of the world's most secretive companies.

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n plus 1

Below average
Reviewed by Gary Sernovitz on Jul 18 2012

Private Empire never rises to greatness due to some architectural flaws...This results in a book with no momentum and not much glue. This is a long book about an oil company with remarkably little (unspilled) oil in it.

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Foreign Policy

Below average
Reviewed by David Biello on May 01 2012

But if Coll is seeking to build an indictment against ExxonMobil, as seems to be his aim, he does not achieve it.

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Reader Rating for Private Empire
71%

An aggregated and normalized score based on 231 user ratings from iDreamBooks & iTunes


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