: New: Book Report: The Great Getty

This biography tells the story of J. Paul Getty, oil tycoon. Getty made his millions the old-fashioned American way: his father was an oil tycoon. Reading about his early years as he lucks into a fortune will make you want to bring back the estate tax. (You think I'm overly harsh about this guy, but he might have agreed with me: In his various divorces he was reluctant to pay child support for the kids he'd fathered.) He comes off as clueless about things outside the world of oil and finance. He had a thick FBI file because he praised the Nazis and Hitler long after it was clear they were bad news. (It was sufficiently clear such that the FBI would take notes of public praise.) When you read the praise, he seems to have missed the substance of what he was seeing a la wow, that Hitler guy's speechifying sure got the audience excited.

He did better at world politics where oil was concerned. Negotiating for rights to drill in the neutral zone between Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, he offered to pay something like what those rights were worth. This caused great consternation amongst other drillers in the area, who had historically gotten away with much much lower prices. Since these other drillers had gotten their rights through postcolonial-powers connections… it was not a good look. (At least nowadays? Maybe back then, folks still took that kind of patronizing colonial verbiage seriously?)

Anyhow, he seems to have been a difficult person to know. But a good person to study if you want to find out a bit about how the world got into its current state.

Tags: book business

blog comments powered by Disqus