The Prize: The Epic Quest for Oil, Money, and Power - Part 1, Chapter 1 Summary & Analysis

Daniel Yergin
This Study Guide consists of approximately 136 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of The Prize.
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Part 1, Chapter 1 Summary

In 1855, Benjamin Silliman, Jr., a professor of chemistry, fumed when he did not receive payment for the report on "rock oil" he had prepared for a group of investors led by George Bissel. He had substantiated that they could make money marketing the dark, smelly substance, provided it could be harvested in sufficient quantities. The analyses proved scientifically that they could distill a superior, economical fuel for lamps, while a different process could make it useful for lubricating machinery. They formed a company for exploration. In England, entrepreneurs looked to exploit asphalt and its derivative, kerosene. Patents crossed the Atlantic, and by 1859, 34 U.S. companies were producing $5 million worth of the commodity.

By the mid-19th century, oil was hardly unfamiliar to humankind. Known as bitumen in the ancient world, it played a key role in war and peace. The Arabs...

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This section contains 450 words
(approx. 2 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy The Prize: The Epic Quest for Oil, Money, and Power Study Guide
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