The Secret World of Oil by Ken Silverstein - review by Michael Burleigh

Michael Burleigh

Slick Business

The Secret World of Oil


Verso 281pp £14.99

Virtually any industry lends itself to knocking copy. Take publishing. Greedy agents cook up superfluous books with needy authors and sell them to publishers who have streamlined their lists to a series of predictable commercial formats so as not to embarrass themselves on the balance sheets of their corporate masters. After discreet intervention by gushing publicists, friends of the authors review the books in newspapers sometimes owned by the same corporations. Some authors post adoring online comments on their own books or slander their rivals. Half-hearted efforts are made to sell the books in stores that have been denuded of staff on dying high streets. Of course, we know that such an account would be a travesty of how publishing functions within a Britain that is a beacon to the entire world in this as in so many other respects.

It is much easier to write good knocking copy about much larger and more powerful industries, since readers generally do not know much about investment banks, energy companies, shipping, supermarkets, Google, Amazon or Microsoft and will pretty much believe the worst. Big oil is a favourite in this genre of

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