Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Texaco, The Spanish Civil War, And Today's OPEC Announcement -- February 18, 2016

I am reading an "advance reading copy, not for resale" Spain In Our Hearts: Americans in the Spanish Civil War, 1936 - 1939, Adam Hochschild, best-selling author of To End All Wars. When I ordered the book, it became one of three books to be read at the same time. The other two were biographies: one of Ayn Rand and the other of Coco Chanel.

I had no idea where Hochschild's book would take me. I was more than pleasantly surprised. Because it is an advance copy it does not include an index, which is a "plus" since I can't see ahead of time what the author covers in this book. The book does have the notes, bibliography, and references, suggesting that the only "thing" missing is the index.

Today, I read chapter ten which is worth the price of the book. The chapter explains how Texaco, headquartered in New York City became the first, and later, the predominant, supplier of oil and petroleum products to Franco during the Spanish Civil War, and how FDR let that continue, in effect supporting both Nazi Germany and Italy, leading up to WWII. Texaco provided all the oil Germany, Italy, and the Nationalists needed for waging the Spanish Civil War, and the company provided all the oil requested on credit. The Republic held all the Spanish gold; the Nationalists were essentially penniless (or peseta-less, I suppose). I did not recall this story from Yergin's The Prize. I re-checked the latter, and the following words or phrases do not appear in the index in The Prize: Spain, Spanish Civil War, or Torkild Riebur. The chapter concludes:
Years later, when oil companies began issuing credit cards to consumers, a joke made the rounds of industry insiders: Whom did Texaco give its first credit card to? Francisco Franco.
Chapter 10 is worth the price of the book, and it told me all I need to know about the current challenge facing the oil and gas industry.

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