Maass (Love Thy Neighbor) brings fresh detail to a familiar topic in this worrying but never sensationalistic look at the murky world of oil. Supplies of the resource may already have entered a period of rapid decline, with Saudi Arabia, long the world's largest oil producer, possibly passing the peak point of production just as demand from China surges. Maass exposes the staggering destruction oil has wrought in countries less well-known as energy suppliers. The author recounts how the greed of Western oil companies, governments and consumers have propped up such vicious and corrupt dictatorships as that in Equatorial Guinea, where flights run nonstop from the destitute capital to Texas. The author's Toxic Tour of Ecuador uncovers more cause for concern, like the fact that more oil has been spilled into that country's rain forests and stretch of Amazon than were spilled by the Exxon Valdez in Alaska. Reported from countries ranging from Russia to Nigeria, Maass's heartfelt and beautifully crafted book reveals how one of oil's darkly magical properties is that it erases inconvenient memories. (Sept. 23)
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