The Oil Kings: How the U.S., Iran, and Saudi Arabia Changed the Balance of Power in the Middle East

Andrew Scott Cooper. Simon & Schuster, $28 (416p) ISBN 978-1-4391-5517-2
The petro-politics of the 1970s caused world-historical upheavals—and an international melodrama of statecraft—in this scintillating diplomatic history. Historian Cooper untangles the foreign policy conundrum arising from America's support for the reliably anticommunist Shah of Iran, whom Richard Nixon encouraged to raise oil prices so he could afford to buy U.S. weapons. This dynamic, the author contends, created a monster: to support his wild overspending on arms and pharaonic development projects, the Shah demanded huge OPEC price hikes that crippled the world economy—and provoked an American rapprochement with Saudi Arabia, whose flooding of markets with cheap oil ruined Iran's finances and sped the Shah's downfall. Cooper gives a lucid analysis of shifting oil markets and unearths revelations—including American-Iranian planning for invasions of Arab countries—from meticulous research. But this is a saga of not-so-great men and their wranglings. Its centerpiece is Cooper's superb, lacerating portrait of Henry Kissinger. As the super-diplomat's obsession with great-power rivalries founders in a new world of global economics that he can't fathom, Cooper gives us both a vivid study in sycophancy and backstabbing and a shrewd critique of Kissingerian geo-strategy. Photos. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 07/04/2011
Release date: 08/01/2011
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 416 pages - 978-1-85168-860-9
Open Ebook - 416 pages - 978-1-4391-5713-8
Downloadable Audio - 978-0-307-96718-3
Paperback - 530 pages - 978-1-4391-5518-9
Paperback - 530 pages - 978-1-85168-938-5
Ebook - 1 pages - 978-1-85168-869-2
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