Coming up on the 100th anniversary of political violence and oil

A visit to a used bookstore in Omaha has caused a detour in the planned summer reading list:  The Prize.  This is a landmark history of the oil industry.  It seems that we’re coming up on the 100th anniversary of political and religious violence sending shock waves through the oil markets:

“[Russian] government officials, fearful of revolution, provided arms to the Moslem Tatars, who rose up to massacre and mutilate Christian Armenians, including the leaders of the oil industry [in Baku].  … Strikes and open rebellion spread again throughout the empire in September and October 1905.  In the Caucasus, it was race and ethnic conflict, and not socialism, that drove events.  Tatars rose up once more in an attack on the oil industry throughout Baku and its environs, intent on killing every Armenian they could find, setting fire to buildings where Armenians had taken refuge, pillaging every piece of property on which they could lay their lands. …

“The news from Baku had a profound effect on the outside world.  Here, for the first time, a violent upheavel had interrupted the flow of oil, threatening to make a vast investment worthless. … As for the Russian industry itself, the tally was dismaying: Two-thirds of all oil wells had been destroyed and exports had collapsed.”

That’s page 131 out of 900.  We’ll see what happens next…

6 thoughts on “Coming up on the 100th anniversary of political violence and oil

  1. Read The Prize in high school for history. Yergin was my hero then. I should re-read it because I knwo I didn’t get all of it then.

  2. ‘The Prize’ is one of the best and most enlightening books I’ve read, right up there with ‘The Making of the Atomic Bomb’ by Richard Rhodes for gaining understanding about the 20th Century. Is Bill Gates Calouste Gulbenkian?

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