Two new books in Energy Society Series from West Virginia Press

Oil and Urbanization on the Pacific Coast: Ralph Bramel Lloyd and the Shaping of the Urban West by Michael Adamson

Oil and Urbanization on the Pacific Coast tells the story of oilman Ralph Bramel Lloyd, a small business owner who drove the development of one of America’s largest oil fields. Lloyd invested his petroleum earnings in commercial real estate—much of it centered on automobiles and the fuel they require—in several western cities, notably Portland, Oregon. Putting the history of extractive industry in dialogue with the history of urban development, Michael R. Adamson shows how energy is woven into the fabric of modern life, and how the “energy capital” of Los Angeles exerted far-flung influence in the US West.

A contribution to the relatively understudied history of small businesses in the United States, Oil and Urbanization on the Pacific Coast explores issues of interest to multiple audiences, such as the competition for influence over urban development waged among local growth machines and outside corporate interests; the urban rivalries of a region; the importance of public capital in mobilizing the commercial real estate sector during the Great Depression and World War II; and the relationships among owners, architects, and contractors in the execution of commercial building projects.

Oil and Nation: A History of Bolivia’s Petroleum Sector by Stephen Cote

Oil and Nation places petroleum at the center of Bolivia’s contentious twentieth-century history. Bolivia’s oil, Cote argues, instigated the largest war in Latin America in the 1900s, provoked the first nationalization of a major foreign company by a Latin American state, and shaped both the course and the consequences of Bolivia’s transformative National Revolution of 1952. Oil and natural gas continue to steer the country under the government of Evo Morales, who renationalized hydrocarbons in 2006 and has used revenues from the sector to reduce poverty and increase infrastructure development in South America’s poorest country.

The book advances chronologically from Bolivia’s earliest petroleum pioneers in the nineteenth century until the present, inserting oil into historical debates about Bolivian ethnic, racial, and environmental issues, and within development strategies by different administrations. While Bolivia is best known for its tin mining, Oil and Nation makes the case that nationalist reformers viewed hydrocarbons and the state oil company as a way to modernize the country away from the tin monoculture and its powerful backers and toward an oil-powered future.


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