Crude Reality

Crude Reality

Petroleum in World History

Brian C. Black


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This concise, accessible introduction to the history of oil tells the story of how petroleum has shaped human life since it was first discovered oozing inconspicuously from the soil. For a century, human dependence on petroleum caused little discomfort as we enjoyed the heyday of cheap crude—a glorious episode of energy gluttony that was destined to end. Today, we see the disastrous results in environmental degradation, political instability, and world economic disparity in the waning years of a petroleum-powered civilization—lessons rooted in the finite nature of oil. Considering the nature of oil itself as well as humans’ remarkable relationship with it, Brian C. Black spotlights our modern conundrum and then explores the challenges of our future without oil. It is this essential context, he argues, that will prepare us for our energy transition. Bringing his global perspective and wide-ranging technical knowledge, Black has written an essential contribution to environmental history and the rapidly emerging field of energy history in this sweeping, forward-looking survey.


Brian C. Black:
Brian C. Black is head of the Division of Arts and Humanities and professor of history and environmental studies at Penn State Altoona.