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If you like to feel like an insider, then this book is for you! I really like Steven Coll's pacing, as he was able to get my attention immediately as he starts with the tragedy surrounding the Exxon Valdez and all the characters involved in this historical event. From there he takes you through the ups and downs of this enormous private enterprise, which I found very insightful.
The key to the success of this book is the neutral perspective assumed by Coll, as I hate books that try to portray something that is simply big as also automatically bad. I am a businessman, and this book allowed me some keen insights into the thinking and doings of a major employer, energy producer, and endless source of speculation and controversy.
This book is not going to change your life by any means, but it is a great impartial look behind the curtain of a major global player.
I would highly recommend this book to any students of business or generally to anyone who likes to glimpse the inside.
7 of 7 people found this review helpful
Private Empire is an excellent investigation of Exxon's (and more recently Exxon-Mobil's) corporate conduct and policies over the last two decades or so. Coll begins with the Valdez spill and offers more of a series of case studies than any continuous history. At times a more detailed backstory of Exxon's pre-1989 development would help, but on the whole Coll's more journalistic approach is effective and interesting.
My only complaint here is the narration - and really it's the trend represented here more than the specific performance I object to. Malcolm Hillgartner's voice is fine, and he generally reads in a clear, expressive manner. But I appeal to him, and to all audiobook producers, to enact a moratorium on foreign accents, at least in nonfiction works. Unless done extremely well, the use of accents to distinguish quotes from speakers of different nationalities is totally distracting - at best comical, at worst borderline offensive. Listening to Vladimir Putin's words (which were spoken in Russian to begin with!) recited in a Bela Lugosi-like "Russian" accent in no way enhances my listening pleasure. Maybe this kind of dramatization is necessary or desirable in narrating works of fiction (though I'd prefer not), but when it's actual historical figures in a work of journalistic reporting, it's just ridiculous. (Ditto w/male narrator's reading women's words in a semi-falsetto. Yuck!)
12 of 13 people found this review helpful
This is a really good book but incredibly long and at times the detail get in the way of the narrative. I also find the chronology skips about as different issues and projects are discussed which can be confusing.
That said, the story is engaging and well read. I didn't know much about the oil industry and this was an eye opening account of the power players. At its best this is riveting stuff.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
This is a great book. More like a thriller than a work of non-fiction. That said I would recommend to Audible that they don't use character voices for this type of book. It is distracting and takes from the story.
Also the version I have has regular skipping noises in it. Not clear what the cause is. I reinstalled the app and redownloaded the book, but this did not improve it.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful