Academic journal article Texas International Law Journal

Oil, God, and Gold: The Story of Aramco and Saudi Kings

Academic journal article Texas International Law Journal

Oil, God, and Gold: The Story of Aramco and Saudi Kings

Article excerpt

OIL, GOD, AND GOLD: THE STORY OF ARAMCO AND SAUDI KINGS. By Anthony Cave Brown. New York: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1999. 370 pages, $30.00 Hardcover.

Valued primarily for its minor strategic value, Saudi Arabia did not step onto the world stage until World War I, when the worth of what lay beneath its deserts slowly became clear. Oil, God, and Gold traces the history of the Arabian American Oil Company (Aramco) from its creation as a fiercely held American venture to its eventual takeover by the Saudi government. It is the history of what became one of the world's largest and wealthiest oil companies and its efforts to maintain its exclusive oil concession within Saudi Arabia.

Brown puts Aramco's monetary success in the context of its dealings in the Middle East, and in Saudi Arabia in particular. King Ibn Saud's rule was frequently precarious, a situation created by internal discontent among Islamic fundamentalists, and exacerbated by external pressures from other Middle Eastern nations. Aramco had to be prepared for the potential loss of the oil concession, the possibility of outright nationalization, and the influence of OPEC.

Aramco also maintained a frequently tempestuous relationship with its own government, which remained mistrustful of Aramco's separate diplomatic contacts with the Saudi government. This suspicion of the company's secretive dealings culminated in a Senate investigation that eventually came to nothing. …

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