the next fix

This is the start of a three-book review I did for the current edition of the LRB:

African oil is sweeter and lighter than Middle Eastern crudes and in recent years it has begun to look increasingly desirable. For political reasons, it became especially attractive after 9/11, and today the US imports more oil from Africa than from the entire Persian Gulf. But there is competition: China now imports more than a quarter of its oil from African countries and Angola has overtaken Saudi Arabia to become its chief supplier. In Poisoned Wells: The Dirty Politics of African Oil, Nicholas Shaxson argues that these developments are alarming. While the people who live in Africa’s big oil-producing countries are getting poorer and angrier, their leaders ‘have a rising tide of money at their disposal’ and are ‘fit for mischief’. He warns of a ‘cosy post-colonial complacency’ blinding Westerners to the fact that African oil isn’t a threat only to the people who live in the countries where it’s produced: it’s also ‘spreading poison deep into the fabric of the international financial system and the rich world’s democracies’.

  • Poisoned Wells: The Dirty Politics of African Oil by Nicholas Shaxson  
  • Oil Wars edited by Mary Kaldor, Terry Lynn Karl and Yahia Said 
  • Untapped: The Scramble for Africa’s Oil by John Ghazvinian
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2 thoughts on “the next fix

  1. congratulations for the piece on Angola in the LRB. this is a Brazilian reader of yours (Accra, circa 1997/98, does it ring any bells?). please keep up the good writing. back in Brasilia now, after periods in Geneva (WTO) and Japan. would love to resume contact.

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