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The incredible tale of how ambitious oil rivals Marcus Samuel, Jr., and Henri Deterding joined force.......

Title : Breaking Rockefeller: The Incredible Story of the Ambitious Rivals Who Toppled an Oil Empire
Author :
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ISBN : 9780525427391
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 352 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Breaking Rockefeller: The Incredible Story of the Ambitious Rivals Who Toppled an Oil Empire Reviews

  • Lady Wesley
    2019-05-15 16:06

    Breaking Rockefeller is the best kind of popular history -- with fascinating characters fully brought to life in Peter Doran's lively prose. If you always thought that Teddy Roosevelt and the trust busters brought about the break-up of the Standard Oil behemoth (as I did), you know only a part of the story. Doran introduces the reader to Marcus Samuel, Jr., and Henri Deterding, who formed their own "team of rivals" to attack Rockefeller from outside the U.S.The story of the oil industry's early days could have been dryly factual, but Doran makes it into a page-turner without sacrificing authenticity.I was entertained, and I learned something. You can't ask for more.Note: I received an advance copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.

  • Marks54
    2019-05-10 11:52

    This book is an engaging account of the origins of the Royal Dutch Shell group in the oil industry. The author is a policy/energy wonk and not a professional historian. The story tends to focus on individuals rather than the complexities of corporate structures, antitrust law, or geological strata. This is not a huge problem, since the individuals in this story are literally of world historical scope - John D. Rockefeller, Henri Deterding, Marcus Samuel, Winston Churchill, Teddy Roosevelt, and others. The result is a book that tells an important and highly readable story and is similar in style to authors like Erik Larson.I especially liked several aspects of how Mr. Doran told this story.First, business strategies are not seen as developing by themselves as if they were garden plants. Instead, these strategies develop in opposition to those of other firms (and governments). Shell and Royal Dutch develop in opposition to Standard Oil and Rockefeller. That opposition is central to the development of these firms, their amalgamation and their entry into the US market. This is the difference between seeing strategy as a plan versus seeing it as a game, in which subsequent actions depend upon the moves of an opponent.Second, government - in this case really big government - is an inherent part of the story. Shell could not have succeeded against Standard without the antitrust attacks on Standard by US Federal and state governments. Doran clearly wants to cast Samuel and Deterding and plowing free market field to free the oil business from the stranglehold imposed by Standard oil. However, this is not the free market mayhem of the open outcry markets in Chicago of days past but instead a battle among would be oligarchs who all want to dominate their business to the extent possible.Third, technology, collusion, and competition are all interlinked in this story. Sure, one needs to have a sufficiently sophisticated technology or else one will not get the required scale and scope of production and will lose out to better endowed competitors. However, that technology needs to fit within the business context of the industry in order to provide its intended value. The best technologies do not always win out, especially in the short tun. For example, the development of the ultrasafe tanker by Shell was critical to its strategy of taking on Standard. For the technological superiority of the tanker to help Shell, however, the design of the ship had to be accepted as safe by the Suez Canal authorities, the opposition to the acceptance of that design had to be defeated, and the Canal had to be under the control of the British government. Once all of these stars fell in line, then Shell had a competitive advantage, at least for a while. Until they did, the enhanced tanker design could not help Shell enough to make a difference.Finally, the book argues for the importance of history and the need to understand it to appreciate the present. While such claims can prove dubious, especially in books targeted to policy audiences, I think Mr. Doran has a case here and his concluding chapter is worthwhile. The linkage with contemporary Russia and Gazprom and the crisis in the Ukraine is reasonable and shows that Standard Oil has provided a playbook that is still relevant.On top of all this, it is a very entertaining book.

  • Steven Peterson
    2019-04-25 17:45

    A fascinating book. John D. Rockefeller had established the Standard Oil Company, which used its near monopoly power to dominate the oil market in the United States. This book is a study in how two entrepreneurs--competitiros at times and collaborators at other times--entered the American market and competed with Standard Oil. The success of the new group--Royal Dutch Shell--was a bit less than met the eye, but it was surely an important event in American oil business and policy and politics.The progenitors of Royal Dutch Shell. . .Marcus Samuel began with developing a plan of action for oil from Baku and other sites in Russia. Thus became, over time, Shell Oil. Then, Henri Deterding, who used oil from Southeast Asia to create what became known as Royal Dutch. While they were working to develop their separate enterprises, Other figures were involved in the picture--such as the Rothschild family.With the development of oil tankers that could traverse the Suez Canal, Samuels experienced a breakthrough. Over time, he and Deterding developed a prickly business relationship.In the United States, Standard Oil was torn apart under the aegis of antitrust laws. At a point in time, Royal Dutrh Shell entered the American market and succeeded. Calling this a Rockefeller "breaking" is a bit off target, since Standard Oil had been weakened by government action. Nonetheless, a fascinating book about oil politics and business. . . .

  • Bimal Patel
    2019-05-16 12:02

    What an awesome book written on history of petroleum business by Peter Doran. The author's story telling style makes this book very riveting. The book starts out by giving the readers a glimpse of the birth of Rockefeller's Standard Oil Company and how it came to rule the petroleum business all over the world. It's fascinating to learn about a Jewish merchant's son in England and a Dutch tobacco agent, who eventually created a company that could go head to head with Standard Oil of Rockefeller. Still if it weren't for US legal system, Standard would have been the most powerful company even now. Thanks to the creation of antitrust laws that eventually gave fair fighting chance to other player and made US land of opportunities in business. This book couldn't come at a better time when oil price are at an all time low and the geopolitical map for oil business is an changing.I am sure this book will find it's audience among history buffs but even if you are not a history buff, you will still come out with good deal of knowledge about the history of petroleum business. That being said, I highly recommend it.

  • Margaret Rusciolelli
    2019-05-17 17:01

    Who knew the world of oil from crude to refined could be interesting? Peter Dorian's book of oil tycoons is history in an easy to digest form. The fluctuating gas prices we experience in the 21st century have always been part and parcel of this industry. Well written, no pun intended.

  • Jb
    2019-05-11 18:11

    As a student at the University of Texas, I recall one of my professors, who once had worked for a newspaper in Kahoka, Mo., talking about how the Standard Oil Co. practiced "cut to kill" in the town. That meant that any new gas station that tried to open up would soon be driven out of business. Standard would cut prices ridiculously low, then once the new competitor, who couldn't match the low prices, was gone, the Standard station would raise its price sky high. John D. Rockefeller's Standard Oil Co., using such predatory business practices, at first dominated the global oil industry. Who eventually helped break up Standard's monopoly? Investigative reporter Ida Tarbell was one. She was able, with connections such as Mark Twain, to gain access to the inner workings of the company and expose its shady practices. Also, trust busters such as Sen. John Sherman who originated the Sherman Anti-Trust Act and President Teddy Roosevelt who worked to enforce it. Then Royal Dutch Shell emerged as a powerful competitor. Lively characters, gushers, dry wells, political intrigue, oil tanker design and construction permeate this book. What's the difference between an illegal monopoly and a legal one? You'll find the answer here.

  • Sherrie Pilkington
    2019-04-25 14:56

    ***I won this book in a GoodReads Giveaway***4.5 stars. Interesting and engaging. The author let the story meander through different stories and ideas as he told the tale of how Rockefeller's empire was brought down. There were strong personalities, scandals, intrigue, and it read more like a novel than a history book. It was very hard to put down as it kept touching on fresh ideas and situations.My only complaint is the final chapter. In trying to make parallels with modern times, he ended up writing a political tirade against the Jones Act. While I don't disagree with his arguments, it was a very awkward way to end such a fine book.

  • Chess
    2019-04-23 13:52

    Great read on the powerful men Marcus Samuels and Deterding with their companies Shell and Royal Dutch and how they came to surpass and invade the oil monopoly ran by Rockefeller. Beautiful work of world history lost in time.

  • Evan Schneider
    2019-04-21 17:06

    This book was awesome. I learned a lot about how the world has come to be today because of Rockefeller, Samuel, and Deterding. The way Doran ties it into current affairs closes out the book magnificently

  • Haur Bin
    2019-04-23 16:01

    History of Royal Dutch Shell against the backdrop of Standard Oil domination of petroleum industry. Marcus Samuel's entrepreneurial ability coupled with being at the right place at the right time where he was given an opportunity of a lifetime to capitalise on Russian oil boom in Baku where Rothschilds needed someone to move the oil to the Far East. With his earlier business connection as well as bold vision to win on logistics, probably gave rise to the invention of safe & efficient sea transportation for petroleum products. The design and success of Murex through Suez Canal gave Shell the advantage in capturing Far East market share.Separately, Royal Dutch Company led by Kessler and eventually Henri Deterding struck oil in Dutch colonies in Indonesia. Rise of gasoline fuelled internal combustion automobile played to Royal Dutch's hands as the quality of their Indonesian crude oil possessed superior gasoline yield. Both companies were competing against one another on top of price war from Standard Oil hence during early talks, Shell almost took over Royal Dutch playing into Deterding's fear of a Standard/Shell partnership that will crush him in his home ground, Far East. However Samuel missed his chance and the first attempt for merger failed.After Standard Oil's dissolution due to Supreme Court order for anti-trust, Shell was threatened by the rise of socialism through Bolsheviks in Russia which wiped out significant Russian assets. This left Shell in a vulnerable state and Deterding, now having a stronger financial and strategic position, took this opportunity to merge the two companies.Ultimately, Rockefeller was not broken by the rise of RDS but by the ruling from Supreme Court which ironically made him even richer than before.

  • Sankari
    2019-05-11 15:51

    A history of the oil industry including all the major players like Standard Oil and Royal Dutch Shell. Peter Doran does an excellent job of not only accurately depicting the historical events that occurred in the time but also of storytelling. He really delves into the nuances of ambition and greed and different personality types that would prove to be so incredibly influential in the oil industry. I learned so much from this book, and am really disturbed by a lot of things, such as the the Jones Act.

  • Peter Tillman
    2019-04-23 15:55

    Pretty good history of the early oil industry, including Rockefeller's Standard Oil monopoly, the founding of Royal Dutch Shell, and discovery/development of some of the early oilfields. This is interesting stuff, but the book isn't very well-written and keeps going off on tangents and side-trails. Still, I found it worthwhile.

  • Itsme
    2019-05-19 14:58

    It is a fundamental of capitalist economics that wealth concentrates; businesses tend to be monopolies or to fail; rich people get richer and the poor get poorer. This book really makes the point while keeping interest well up

  • Matt swanson
    2019-04-28 16:10

    Awesome reading Great book very informative but simply put and entertaining . The facts and events are well analyzed and presented I also enjoyed the last part scrutinizing present for the kinks with the past

  • Lara Donnelly
    2019-04-29 11:05

    Almost everything about this book was solidly enjoyable, and I learned a lot about the global history of fossil fuels. But the last chapter turned into a rant about fracking and the Jones act that felt out of step with the rest of the book.

  • Jill Stevenson
    2019-04-23 16:09

    Dana review- the title implies some master counter stroke but it is merely the tale of natural forces at work.

  • Matt
    2019-05-04 15:43

    A bit droll and plodding but an interesting story.

  • Ms. Reader
    2019-04-27 12:52

    I received this book from Goodreads First Reads in exchange for an honest review...Fantastic book! Well written and very interesting. Highly recommend giving it a try.

  • Tim Gillen
    2019-05-10 14:08

    Great read.

  • Andrew
    2019-05-22 18:00

    More about Shell and Royal Dutch than about Rockefeller or how he was toppled. Misleading title, but interesting nonetheless.

  • Samantha
    2019-05-13 13:58

    I really enjoyed this book. It is the type of nonfiction I really like; it moves quickly, doesn't feel like a textbook and is obviously very well researched. It follows Marcus Samuel and Henri Deterding as they attempt to make a place for themselves in the oil business. Up until Marcus Samuel decided to challenge him, Rockefeller had formed a huge monopoly over oil. One of the reasons for this was that the oil boom started in America. When they found oil in Russia, and then increasingly everywhere else, it opened the door for someone brave to challenge Rockefeller. Enter Marcus Samuel, who decided to take that risk and try to break into the business.This book is fascinating. It covers a ton of history, and most was history I knew nothing about. There were several moments where something would happen and I would realize "Oh my gosh, I know that company!" It was fun to suddenly realize that some of the companies that are formed in this book are huge companies still around today. This book was informative without lecturing. It keeps your interest by telling a story about these people, not providing the information in a dry way. A problem that I have noticed in a lot of nonfiction is that the author has so many interesting facts they have learned and they want to stuff everything into their book. In these books, often the narrative jumps around and I end up confused and not following the main thread of the book, or the main thread gets totally lost amongst minutiae. Peter B. Doran did not do this, which is one of the reasons the book remained so interesting. He managed to tie in several different people and plots without breaking his narrative. The book was very well put together and very easy to read.I did notice one flaw that bothered me, and I hope it will be caught in the final version of the book. In chapter two, he mentions that three monarchs of England were beheaded and one went mad. I really like British historical fiction and I couldn't think of the three monarchs who were beheaded. So I checked his footnote and he put down Queen Jane, Charles I, and Mary I. Mary I? Queen Mary I died of uterine cysts or cancer (historians aren't quite sure). Definitely natural causes though and I feel that portion of history is so well covered in literature that this might be something that several readers would pick up on. So I hope that gets fixed.Other than that small flaw, I loved this book, and would definitely recommend it. I received this book free from a Goodreads giveaway in exchange for an honest review.

  • Lisa-Michele
    2019-05-05 10:47

    Rockefeller was not really broken so much as he fell from his perch as King of the Hill, so the title puzzles me. This book is about the period in the world economy (1901-1908) when John D. Rockefeller and Standard Oil ruled the world, then others came on the scene and diluted their monopolistic control. I enjoyed learning about the early days of crude oil exploration when the goal was kerosene and gasoline was a mere waste product. Standard was challenged by Royal Dutch and Shell, who eventually combined forces to knock Rockefeller down a peg. Of course, he became even richer as a result, so shed no tears for Johnny. The story then veers into the Ida Tarbell saga where her newspaper expose on Rockefeller’s shenanigans caused the antitrust backlash that shatters his companies apart, and makes him richer still. “By forcing the “splendid happy family” of Standard to scatter, the Supreme Court unintentionally increased Rockefeller’s net worth from an estimated $300 million before the breakup in 1911 to just below a billion dollars.” The break-up gave birth to Exxon, Mobil, Chevron, Amoco, Sun, Conoco and other companies we know and love today. This was a great book for corporate and economic history, but left me feeling like I didn’t understand the individual players as well.

  • Lynn Lyon
    2019-04-21 16:58

    It all started with a hashtag - #LNG. I was introduced to Peter Doran on Twitter with a mutual interest in natural gas. His tweets are insightful but limited with 140 characters. He is a gifted thinker and author. He educates and entertains with this story that looks at the challenges of distance, geography, risk, technology and greed.I love this book. Every chapter was my new favorite through the final pages. Peter is an excellent story teller in writing and in person. Breaking Rockefeller provides a depth of knowledge with personal context for Rockefeller, Samuel & Deterding. This story needs to be told. The energy, innovation and associated wealth of this era deserve a spotlight. I hope we see a blockbuster movie based on the book. The tale of the Titanic is a small story compared to the tale of the Murex. The Big Short is nothing compared to The Big Monopoly ran by the wealthiest man in the world. I love this story and Peter's book. I sent my Dad a copy and look forward to getting his perspective too.

  • Bozworth
    2019-05-09 13:55

    I appreciated a deeper look at Marcus Samuel, particularly in light of Doran's note in the acknowledgments that Samuel had burned his papers. I would have liked more on Deterding - this seemed thin but it may be attributable to Deterding's less colorful nature. Details on the development of the first tanker Murex, the role of geologists practical application of their anticline theory in Sumatra, the Royal Dutch burning "waste" gasoline byproduct from Pangkalan Brandan, the burning of Baku, all helped highlight the development path for Royal Dutch and Shell. Discussion of Rockefeller and Standard are inevitable, and Doran provided a mostly balanced job. The unsubstantiated psychoanalysis of Rockefeller on p. 179 is the exception - Deterding's competitive nature isn't ascribed the same malicious motives. Doran veers into contemporary geopolitics in his final chapter, which seems a disconnected advertisement for his day job. Overall, a decent slice of biography, oil history, and technical development.

  • Dan Darragh
    2019-05-22 18:11

    Fascinating story about how Rockefeller built his empire and what it took to dismantle it. It's hard to grasp just how much money and how much power Rockefeller had at the peak of the Standard Oil monopoly and the effect it had not only on America but the entire world. The last couple of chapters really put the whole thing in perspective and also warn us about what is happening in some parts of the business world today and how it is so intertwined with politics.

  • Robin
    2019-05-21 15:02

    I have always been fascinated by the men who were so powerful during this time period. I always read/hear about how they made their fortunes and the influences they had on our country. This book revealed the other side and the forces that brought down the Rockefeller empire. I had always heard of Roosevelt's hand in the deal but had no idea of what was happening on the other side of the world. It was a nice story to finally hear. As far as the writing, I felt that it could have been condensed. I thought that at some times the author went into great details that had little relevance to the story (what the Orient Express looked like). I would have rather skipped those details and had a more to the point story.

  • Joe
    2019-05-20 15:45

    This is a good book describing the early days of the oil industry. The descriptions of Rockefeller, Samuel and Deterding are fascinating. They were clearly Titan of the industry. I felt that the title was somewhat misleading. The US Supreme Court toppled the Empire. RDS provided the competition. The author acknowledges this on p 253. Also I found it interesting the author list RDS as second to Walmart in the 2014 Fortune 500 listing. That was true in revenue but not profits. RDS has never been know as particularly profitable in the oil industry. I was also surprised that BP was not mentioned in the Chapter on the move to oil fuel for the British Navy. That company was critical in that transition. Overall a good book that I would recommend

  • Aditya Vikram Gupta
    2019-04-23 12:06

    The books does a good job of documenting the dynamics of the oil industry and describing the events that led to the current state of the industry. However, it lacks the spirit of an independent investigation and parts of the book read as though they have been deliberately altered and tampered with. I would definitely recommend the book not only to people enthusiastic about learning about the origins of the oil industry but also to those who are interested in understanding the role of oil in the present-day global geo-political situation.

  • Sus
    2019-05-16 12:50

    Peter is a friend and a gifted storyteller. Who knew the history of oil could be so fascinating? This book is not just a biography of Rockefeller, but a rich tapestry of characters and their ambitions. I was fascinated by the people and events that shaped the oil industry. I couldn't put Breaking Rockefeller down.

  • Alice Central
    2019-05-11 17:56

    This novel is the definition of AMAZING. Never thought I'd be able to learn so much about the clever business man John D. Rockefeller. This novel has drastically modulated my perspective on the oil industry and the business industry.