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Standard Oil Company

The Rise and Fall of America's Most Famous Monopoly
Narrated by: Ken Teutsch
Length: 1 hr and 30 mins
Categories: History, World

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Publisher's Summary

"The secret to success is to do the common things uncommonly well." - John D. Rockefeller

The discovery of rich dark pools of oil residing in the pockets beneath humanity's feet remains one of the most pivotal revelations in all of history. Crude oil, a type of fossil fuel, is found swimming near the surface in tar sands and in the cracks of sedimentary rocks. These underground jackpots are used to create petroleum products across the globe, from gasoline and different fuels to heating oils, lubricating oils, and asphalt. For centuries, humans have been combing the lands in search of the lucrative resource; after all, there is a reason they call it "black gold".

Historical records show that humanity has known the importance of oil since the beginning of time. Traces of natural bitumen (a crucial component of asphalt) were found on 40,000-year-old stone tools unearthed in Syrian Neanderthal sites. According to Greek historian, Herodotus, asphalt taken from ancient oil pits and river banks near Ardericca were utilized in the construction of the Babylon towers. Meanwhile, across the globe, bitumen was used as an embalming substance for Egyptian mummies.

The earliest oil drilled oil wells were found in the Sichuan Province of China in 347 CE. These primitive wells ran up to 800-ft deep, and were dug up by a manual rig still used in rural areas today. The apparatus was made of sturdy pipe bamboo and a sharp iron drill attached to it. A group of two or more men operated the machine. Some stood on the wooden lever, which activated the pulley system. The machine hoisted the drill stem off the ground and back into the ground repeatedly, slowly breaking through the earth.

©2016 Charles River Editors (P)2016 Charles River Editors

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  • Philo
  • 19-05-2019

Whets my appetite for more detail

These are fascinating times, characters, and events touched on here. This is a pretty brisk and balanced summary of the story. I find J. D. Rockefeller an intriguing and inspiring character. Others will hear this and think the same of his pioneering investigative-journalist-nemesis, Ida Tarbell. This book, disappointingly for me, doesn't say much after the breakup of Standard Oil. I'm now ready for the massive Ron Chernow bio of Rockefeller. I wish there was a more rigorous and technical business accounting of Standard Oil's deals and doings, and the array of personalities all around, and this is not that book. It is, as one might expect, a superficial and popular summary of that.

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  • Smack
  • 01-12-2016

good to know

good one to have in library. I enjoyed it if you like business history so will you