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Internal Combustion:
How Corporations and Government
Addicted the World to Oil and
Derailed the Alternatives

EDWIN BLACK. St. Martin's, $27.95
(432p) ISBN 978-0-312-35907-2
Black (IBM and the Holocaust) spins the history of oil's ascendancy to dominance over the global energy market into a sordid tale of conspiracy, deception and murder. This enthralling book begins in the vast forests of Cypress, whose wood fueled the ancient Mediterranean, and extends through the Elizabethan era, in which the Hostmen guild of Newcastle exerted political influence by monopolizing the British coal supply.
The central thread of this well-researched book, which draws upon a vast array of archival sources and an extensive list of secondary texts, picks up centuries later with the competition in the American automotive market between electric power and oil-fueled internal combustion. The definitive blow in favor of oil comes with WWI, which prompted increased demand for gas-powered vehicles at the very moment Thomas Edison and Henry Ford aborted plans to develop an affordable electric car. The decades-long "General Motors Conspiracy" solidifies the demise of electrically powered mass transit in American cities. Through it all, Black manages to keep this complex history compelling. By the time the author makes his final, impassioned plea for a bold new solution to the world's energy crisis, he has already made his case with devastating clarity. (Oct.)