(K. Brent Tomer),
Breaking Rockefeller: The Incredible Story of the Ambitious Rivals Who Toppled an Oil Empire. By Peter Doran. Viking; 352 pages; $28.
JUST over 100 years ago Standard Oil, from which both Exxon and Mobil sprang, was the undisputed leader of the global oil industry. American trustbusters were soon hot on the heels of its competition-killing owner, John D. Rockefeller. So too was a scrappy Anglo-Dutch company, the product of a merger of Shell Oil with Royal Dutch in 1907, which had defied fearsome odds to muscle onto Standard’s home turf in America.
That amalgamation had been the work of two men: Marcus Samuel, a brilliant Jewish merchant who built the Shell Transportation and Trading Company from his father’s business selling seashells in Houndsditch, East London, and Henri Deterding, a Dutch wheeler-dealer who built Royal Dutch from unpromising beginnings in the swamps of Sumatra into an Asian powerhouse. These two egos, for years bitter rivals, eventually joined forces to confront a “hammerlock on the planet’s oil market”. Their story, though not new, is grippingly retold in “Breaking…Continue reading