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The Prize: The Epic Quest for Oil, Money, and Power

The Prize: The Epic Quest for Oil, Money, and Power

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The Prize: The Epic Quest for Oil, Money, and Power is Daniel Yergin
Daniel Yergin
Daniel Howard Yergin is an American author, speaker, and economic researcher. Yergin is the co-founder and chairman of Cambridge Energy Research Associates, an energy research consultancy. It was acquired by IHS Inc...

's 800-page history of the global oil industry from the 1850s through 1990. The Prize became a bestseller owing to its release date: it was published in October 1990, two months after the invasion of Kuwait
The State of Kuwait is a sovereign Arab state situated in the north-east of the Arabian Peninsula in Western Asia. It is bordered by Saudi Arabia to the south at Khafji, and Iraq to the north at Basra. It lies on the north-western shore of the Persian Gulf. The name Kuwait is derived from the...

 ordered by Saddam Hussein
Saddam Hussein
Saddam Hussein Abd al-Majid al-Tikriti was the fifth President of Iraq, serving in this capacity from 16 July 1979 until 9 April 2003...

 and three months before the U.S.-led coalition began the Gulf War
Gulf War
The Persian Gulf War , commonly referred to as simply the Gulf War, was a war waged by a U.N.-authorized coalition force from 34 nations led by the United States, against Iraq in response to Iraq's invasion and annexation of Kuwait.The war is also known under other names, such as the First Gulf...

 to oust Iraq
Iraq ; officially the Republic of Iraq is a country in Western Asia spanning most of the northwestern end of the Zagros mountain range, the eastern part of the Syrian Desert and the northern part of the Arabian Desert....

i troops from that country. It eventually went on to win the Pulitzer Prize.

The Prize has been called the "definitive" history of the oil industry, even a "bible"; some critics, though, consider the book too sympathetic to the perspective of the oil industry, of which the author is, in a way, a part.

Popular success

In 1992 The Prize won the Pulitzer Prize for General Non-Fiction
Pulitzer Prize for General Non-Fiction
The Pulitzer Prize for General Non-Fiction has been awarded since 1962 for a distinguished book of non-fiction by an American author that is not eligible for consideration in another category.-1960s:...

. and has been translated into fourteen languages. Now out of print in hardcover, The Prize was published in a paperback edition (ISBN 0-671-79932-0) that was released at the end of 1992, and is currently in print. The Prize is often cited as essential background reading for students of the history of petroleum
Petroleum or crude oil is a naturally occurring, flammable liquid consisting of a complex mixture of hydrocarbons of various molecular weights and other liquid organic compounds, that are found in geologic formations beneath the Earth's surface. Petroleum is recovered mostly through oil drilling...

. Prof. Joseph R. Rudolph Jr. said in Library Journal, for example, that The Prize, "written by one of the foremost U.S. authorities on energy
In physics, energy is an indirectly observed quantity. It is often understood as the ability a physical system has to do work on other physical systems...

, . . . is a major work in the field, replete with enough insight to satisfy the scholar and sufficient concern with the drama and colorful personalities in the history of oil to capture the interest of the general public. Though lengthy, the book never drags in developing its themes: the relationship of oil
An oil is any substance that is liquid at ambient temperatures and does not mix with water but may mix with other oils and organic solvents. This general definition includes vegetable oils, volatile essential oils, petrochemical oils, and synthetic oils....

 to the rise of modern capitalism
Capitalism is an economic system that became dominant in the Western world following the demise of feudalism. There is no consensus on the precise definition nor on how the term should be used as a historical category...

; the intertwining relations between oil, politics, and international power; and the relationship between oil and society in what Yergin calls today's age of 'Hydrocarbon Man'."


Ten years in the making, The Prize draws on extensive research carried out by the author and his staff, including Sue Lena Thompson, Robert Laubacher, and Geoffrey Lumsden
Geoffrey Lumsden
Geoffrey Lumsden was a British character actor who had a lengthy career on television.By some way his best known role was Captain Square in Dad's Army, the pompous commander of the Eastgate platoon of the Home Guard who was a rival of Captain Mainwaring.He appeared in a few episodes, though...

. Daniel Yergin has excellent connections with the oil industry, and is the Chairman of a private energy consulting firm called Cambridge Energy Research Associates
Cambridge Energy Research Associates
Cambridge Energy Research Associates is a consulting company in the United States that specializes in advising governments and private companies on energy markets, geopolitics, industry trends, and strategy...

, Global Energy Analyst for NBC and CNBC, member of the board of the United States Energy Association and of the U.S.-Russian Business Council. Yergin's history has 61 pages of notes and a bibliography of 26 pages that lists as sources not only 700 books, articles, and dissertations, 60 government documents, 28 "data sources", more than 34 manuscript collections, fifteen government archives, eight oral histories, and four oil company archives (Amoco
Amoco Corporation, originally Standard Oil Company , was a global chemical and oil company, founded in 1889 around a refinery located in Whiting, Indiana, United States....

, Chevron
Chevron Corporation
Chevron Corporation is an American multinational energy corporation headquartered in San Ramon, California, United States and active in more than 180 countries. It is engaged in every aspect of the oil, gas, and geothermal energy industries, including exploration and production; refining,...

, Gulf
Gulf Oil
Gulf Oil was a major global oil company from the 1900s to the 1980s. The eighth-largest American manufacturing company in 1941 and the ninth-largest in 1979, Gulf Oil was one of the so-called Seven Sisters oil companies...

, and Royal Dutch Shell
Royal Dutch Shell
Royal Dutch Shell plc , commonly known as Shell, is a global oil and gas company headquartered in The Hague, Netherlands and with its registered office in London, United Kingdom. It is the fifth-largest company in the world according to a composite measure by Forbes magazine and one of the six...

), but also 80 personal interviews with key individuals like James Schlesinger and Armand Hammer
Armand Hammer
Armand Hammer was an American business tycoon most closely associated with Occidental Petroleum, a company he ran for decades, though he was known as well as for his art collection, his philanthropy, and for his close ties to the Soviet Union.Thanks to business interests around the world and his...



The Prize was the basis for a six hour documentary television series titled The Prize - The Epic Quest for Oil, Money, & Power, narrated by Donald Sutherland
Donald Sutherland
Donald McNichol Sutherland, OC is a Canadian actor with a film career spanning nearly 50 years. Some of Sutherland's more notable movie roles included offbeat warriors in such war movies as The Dirty Dozen, , MASH , and Kelly's Heroes , as well as in such popular films as Klute, Invasion of the...

. The series is said to have been seen by 20 million people in the United States.

The book is also available as an abridged audiobook, read by Bob Jamieson
Bob Jamieson
Robert John Jamieson, known as Bob Jamieson, was a television news correspondent for ABC News until January 2008. After getting his start in local news in St. Louis and Chicago, he joined NBC's national news bureau in 1971. There he reported on a variety of national and international news,...

 with a run time of 2 hours and 53 minutes.

In 2011 Yergin'sThe Quest: Energy, Security, and the Remaking of the Modern World was published by Penguin Press. The Quest is considered the sequel to The Prize.

External links