Meticulously researched and elegantly written, it is likely to be the definitive work on its subject for many years to come. Coll is honest about Exxon’s strengths as well as its flaws, and presents both sides of the arguments with scrupulous even-handedness. Conclusions about whether the company is a force for good or ill in the world are left for the reader to decide. — Read the complete FT review
In Private Empire, Steve Coll, winner of the Pulitzer Prize and author of Ghost Wars and The Bin Ladens, investigates the notoriously mysterious ExxonMobil Corporation and the secrets of the oil industry.
In many of the nations where it operates, ExxonMobil has a greater sway than that of the US embassy, its annual revenues are larger than the total economic activity in most countries and in Washington it spends more on lobbying than any other corporation. Yet despite its outsized influence, it is to outsiders a black box.
Private Empire begins with the Exxon Valdez accident in 1989 and closes with the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Steve Coll’s narrative spans the globe, taking readers to Moscow, impoverished African capitals, Indonesia and elsewhere as ExxonMobil carries out its activities against a backdrop of blackmail threats, kidnapping, civil wars, and high-stakes struggles at the Kremlin. In the US, Coll goes inside ExxonMobil’s ruthless Washington lobbying offices and its corporate headquarters in Irving, Texas, where top executives oversee a bizarre corporate culture of discipline and secrecy.
Private Empire is the masterful result of Steve Coll’s indefatigable reporting, from the halls of Congress to the oil-laden swamps of the Niger Delta; previously classified U.S. documents; heretofore unexamined court records; and many other sources.