The Tyranny of Oil: the World’s Most Powerful Industry–And What We Must Do To Stop It.

By Antonia Juhasz, published by HarperCollins, December 2008. 

Paperback edition released Dec. 8, 2009. Updated with a new foreword!

A “timely, blistering critique… white-hot… Explosive fuel for the raging debate on oil prices.” – Kirkus Reviews

“Reminds us that those who don’t learn the lessons of history are fated to repeat its mistakes.” – USA Today

A “thorough, readable takedown of Big Oil.” – Publishers Weekly

The hardest-hitting exposé of the oil industry in decades answers today’s most pressing energy questions: Why did oil and gasoline prices rise and fall so quickly? Where will prices go in the future? Who’s really controlling those prices? How much oil is left? How far will Big Oil go to get it? And at what cost to the economy, environment, human rights, worker safety, public health, democracy, and America’s place in the world? Juhasz investigates the true state of the U.S. oil industry—uncovering its virtually unparalleled global power, influence over our elected officials, its lack of regulatory oversight, the truth behind $150-a-barrel oil, $4.50-a-gallon gasoline, and the highest profit in corporate history. Exposing an industry that thrives on secrecy, Juhasz shows how Big Oil manages to hide its business dealings from policy makers, legislators, and most of all, consumers. She reveals exactly how Big Oil gets what it wants—through money, influence, and lies.

The Tyranny of Oil offers both a new take on problems and a new set of solutions as Juhasz puts forward an immediate call to action—a formula for reining in the industry, its governmental lobbying power, environmental destruction, and violence while reducing global dependence on oil. Her thought-provoking answers to the most pressing energy questions speak directly to readers concerned about oil and gas prices, global warming, wars for oil, and America’s place in the world. With the major players in the world’s most powerful industry charged with collusion, price-gouging, anti-competitive behavior, and unabashed greed, Juhasz calls boldly for the breakup of Big Oil.

Drawing on considerable historical research, Juhasz explores the parallels between today’s companies and Standard Oil, the most powerful corporation of the early 20th century, whose stranglehold on the economy and government was broken only by the vision and persistence of activists and like-minded politicians. We are in a similar position today, she argues, with the 2008 elections offering a unique opportunity for ordinary Americans to come together, reclaim their voices, and shore up our nation’s crumbling democratic foundation.

A tool for meaningful change that blends history, original investigative research and reporting, interviews with key industry insiders, and a unique focus on activism, The Tyranny of Oil is required reading for every concerned global citizen.

“…well-written…. presciently criticizes the weak oversight of the oil futures market.” – The Washington Post

“…part homage to 150 years of anti-monopoly muckraking and trust-busting and part signpost to where the leading edge of the environmental and social activist movements are headed.” – The Toronto Star

“…a brave, groundbreaking case study…. A good first step toward true energy independence is to read this insightful book.” – The Christian Science Monitor

“A Must Read.” – Earthjustice.

“A worthy successor to ‘The Prize’… A riveting read with a bold blueprint for ending the madness.” – Terry Tamminen, former Secretary of the California Environmental Protection Agency.

Book reviews of The Tyranny of Oil here.

Watch Antonia’s talk on The Tyranny of Oil at King’s Books in Tacoma, WA.

The Tyranny of Oil has also been published in Brazil and China.

You can purchase The Tyranny of Oil at your local bookstore or online.

Invite Antonia to speak in your community or request an interview here.

Commentary on The Tyranny of Oil

“Juhasz identifies and articulates an extraordinary problem, provides the critical details, offers real solutions, and gives concrete steps to achieve them. In a world that glorifies war and violence, Juhasz offers thoughtfulness and activism.” 
– Professor Jody Williams, 1997 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, Campaign Ambassador, International Campaign to Ban Landmines

“If our military troops, and the American public, want to know why the US invaded and occupied Iraq, here is the answer. Get your notebooks ready for the facts about oil and the people and companies that are the richest in the world.”
– Colonel Ann Wright, Retired, U.S. Army Reserves

“A worthy successor to ‘The Prize’, The Tyranny of Oil shows how Big Oil is a monopoly that wields more power over our politics and purses than any force in history – a riveting read with a bold blueprint for ending the madness.”
– Terry Tamminen, Former Secretary of the California Environmental Protection Agency under Governor Schwarzenegger

“In a time of crisis, Juhasz bravely and expertly exposes the inner workings of an industry and a government riddled with secrets, lies, and deception. She offers the crucial hard evidence — without which public awareness and reform are impossible. Read this book and refuse to be tyranny’s accomplice.”
– Daniel Ellsberg, author, Secrets: A Memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers

“At last, a no-holds-barred book that traces the story of Big Oil from the rise of John D. Rockefeller’s Standard Oil Company to the scandals and obscene profits of today. In the spirit of Ida Tarbell, the legendary muckraker who first exposed Rockefeller’s monopolist schemes, Juhasz convincingly demonstrates how Standard Oil’s descendants—Exxon, Mobil, and Chevron—have reassembled much of the power once wielded by their progenitor. As she shows, the world environment, the U.S. economy, and the lives of millions have suffered in consequence.”
– Professor Michael T. Klare, author, Rising Powers, Shrinking Planet: The New Geopolitics of Energy

“Juhasz lifts the veil covering Big Oil to uncover an orgy of speculation, mergers, collusion, deregulation, tax evasion, and unprecedented profits. In the clearest of prose, she shows how our elected officials sing and dance to Big Oil’s tune while our military plays the role of bouncers for the industry’s private club. Best of all, Juhasz points the way out and inspires us to free ourselves from Big Oil’s grip to build a more secure, sustainable and peaceful future. Read it and act!”
– Medea Benjamin, cofounder of CODEPINK: Women for Peace and Global Exchange

Key Interviews on The Tyranny of Oil

The Tyranny of Oil, WNYC with Lenard Lopate – October 6, 2008

Leonard Lopate hosts the conversation New Yorkers turn to each afternoon for insight into contemporary art, theater, and literature. We look at how the oil industry got so big, and whether anything needs to be done to keep it in check. Antonia Juhasz is author of The Tyranny of Oil.


Antonia Juhasz: ‘Tyranny of Oil’ Is A Grave Threat, Fresh Air with Terry Gross – October 7, 2008
Author and activist Antonia Juhasz argues that the oil industry’s grip on policy and government has never been stronger.


The Tyranny of Oil: Antonia Juhasz with Amy Goodman – October 7, 2008
Along with so-called clean coal technology, both of the major presidential candidates also supporting expanded offshore oil drilling. We speak to Antonia Juhasz, author of the new book The Tyranny of Oil: The World’s Most Powerful Industry — And What We Must Do to Stop It.

Reviews of The Tyranny of Oil