Someone in the United Kingdom suggested to Harvester Wheatsheaf that I might be able to write a history of energy in the international economy during the twentieth century. The project seemed fascinating. It proved to be a significant learning experience. Still, I am just as happy to remain ignorant of my sponsor's identity.
At the time that I agreed to do this, there existed no similar history. While this is not necessarily an argument supporting the writing of one, I believed that in this case, it might be a useful venture. There were dozens, scores of estimable books on aspects of the energy scene during the twentieth century and their number increased geometrically after 1973. Some covered relatively short chronological periods. Others spanned significant time periods but focused on a particular country, a company, a fuel or energy source or process, or a crisis. Historians are supposed to place time frames and their events in context so their readers can better understand them. I thought this would be possible for energy as it moved across state borders and worked its influences around the globe. In any event, I have tried to explain some of the ramifications for the present of the often critical events of the past.
Many people helped me in my task. Some even wished I were working on something that I was more suited to, at least that is the way I interpreted criticisms of first drafts. Those who agreed to read portions of this study are not at all to be blamed because I perservered.
Among the folk providing indispensable support were the staffs of the libraries at Leicester University, * Leicester, UK, London University, and the University of Kansas, Lawrence, USA. An opportunity to review sources that would not have been available to me was offered by the Economic and Social History Department at Leicester University.