Marcus Samuel, Jr., is an unorthodox Jewish merchant trader. Henri Deterding is a take-no-prisoners oilman. Read more...
Marcus Samuel, Jr., is an unorthodox Jewish merchant trader. Henri Deterding is a take-no-prisoners oilman. In 1889, John D. Rockefeller is at the peak of his power. Having annihilated all competition and possessing near-total domination of the market, even the U.S. government is wary of challenging the great anaconda of Standard Oil. The Standard never loses that is until Samuel and Deterding team up to form Royal Dutch Shell.
A riveting account of ambition, oil, and greed, "Breaking Rockefeller" traces Samuel s rise from outsider to the heights of the British aristocracy, Deterding s conquest of America, and the collapse of Rockefeller s monopoly. The beginning of the twentieth century is a time when vast fortunes were made and lost. Taking readers through the rough and tumble of East London s streets, the twilight turmoil of czarist Russia, to the halls of the British Parliament, and right down Broadway in New York City, Peter Doran offers a richly detailed, fresh perspective on how Samuel and Deterding beat the world s richest man at his own game."
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2016-03-14
- Reviewer: Staff
Plucky upstarts challenge John D. Rockefeller and his Standard Oil monopoly in this lively history of the early petroleum industry from Doran, creator of the History of Oil podcasts. He examines the period from 1889 to 1911 when the secretive, penny-pinching Rockefeller controlled 80% of the world’s oil but faced threats from foreign competition and domestic antitrust initiatives. Doran focuses on two innovative rivals: Britain’s Shell Oil, founded by status-hungry merchant Marcus Samuel, whose advanced tankers shipped cheap kerosene from Russian refineries to Asia; and Royal Dutch Oil, which used pioneering geology to find rich oil fields in Indonesia. These companies and their colorful founders braved considerable risks to drill and sell oil—and to survive the price wars and buyout stratagems that Standard launched to crush them. Doran’s vigorous narrative conveys the drama of the oil industry in its heroic days, featuring grueling stretches of dry wells followed by marathon gushers; lurid, greedy oil boomtowns; and the wars, revolutions, and production gluts that made the business a roller-coaster. He’s also good at untangling the underlying dynamics of finance, marketing, technology, and transportation. The result is an entertaining portrait of the oil industry’s past and the business forces that still shape its present. (June)