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Oil and Sovereignty: Petro-Knowledge and Energy Policy in the United States and Western Europe in the 1970s

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Oil and Sovereignty

Petro-Knowledge and Energy Policy in the United States and Western Europe in the 1970s

Rüdiger Graf
Translated from the German by Alex Skinner

474 pages, 5 illus., bibliog., index

ISBN  978-1-78533-806-9 $135.00/£99.00 Hb Published (April 2018)

eISBN 978-1-78533-807-6 eBook

Hb View cartYour country: United States - Click here to remove geolocation   Buy the eBook! $39.95 Request a Review or Examination Copy (in Digital Format) Recommend to your Library Available in GOBI®


“The author has to be commended for the wealth of information and detail and for providing researchers with a key instrument to understand the energy crisis of the 1970s.” • Journal of Contemporary History

“…deeply researched and creatively conceived…Among its many strengths, Oil and Sovereignty demonstrates the benefits of a comparative as opposed to a purely national perspective. Every serious scholar of oil and international relations should study this exemplary work and engage its arguments.” • H-Net

“…an outstanding book [that] paints a profoundly complex picture of the wrenching transformations of the 1970s, and makes a powerful case that the roots of our current travails lay in that traumatic decade that is only now coming into better historical focus with detailed studies like his own.” • EuropeNow

Praise for the German Edition:

“Succeeds in the difficult task of shedding new light on a topic that has been analysed from many different perspectives… It deserves a wide readership.” • German History

“Highly convincing… Decisively broadens our understanding of the oil crisis of 1973–74.” • H-Soz-Kult


In the decades that followed World War II, cheap and plentiful oil helped to fuel rapid economic growth, ensure political stability, and reinforce the legitimacy of liberal democracies. Yet waves of price increases and the use of the so-called “oil weapon” by a group of Arab oil-producing countries in the early 1970s demonstrated the West’s dependence on this vital resource and its vulnerability to economic volatility and political conflicts. Oil and Sovereignty analyzes the national and international strategies that American and European governments formulated to restructure the world of oil and deal with the era’s disruptions. It shows how a variety of different actors combined diplomacy, knowledge creation, economic restructuring, and public relations in their attempts to impose stability and reassert national sovereignty.

Rüdiger Graf heads the Research Department on Economic History at ZZF Potsdam. He received his doctorate from the Humboldt University of Berlin and has also taught at Ruhr-University, Bochum. He is the author of Die Zukunft der Weimarer Republik: Krisen und Zukunftsaneignungen in Deutschland 1918–1933 (2005) and co-author of Europäische Zeitgeschichte seit 1945 (2010), an introductory textbook on postwar European history.

Subject: History: 20th Century to Present Political and Economic Anthropology


List of Illustrations

Introduction: Sovereignty and Petro-Knowledge

Chapter 1. The World of Oil in the 1950s and 1960s
Chapter 2. Shortages, Forecasts, Prevention: Supplying the Western World with Oil
Chapter 3. The Global Communication of the ‘Arab Oil Weapon’
Chapter 4. The Politics of Sovereignty in the Energy Crisis: The United States
Chapter 5. West Germany within the World of Oil
Chapter 6. Oil Conferences: Global Interdependence and National Sovereignty
Chapter 7. Petro-Knowledge, the Perception of Limits and Sovereignty: Creating the Oil Crisis

Conclusion: Sovereignty in Crisis and the Oil Crisis in Contemporary History


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