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The Reckoning by David Halberstam

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27. WAR AND OIL

THE EQUATION THAT PERMITTED the United States to survive on cheap oil was growing ever less stable. The Middle East was becoming increasingly turbulent, and the signs of rising Arab nationalism (and a declining Western ability to control that nationalism) were clear from the mid-fifties on. In 1954, Gamal Abdel Nasser had come to power in Egypt, in a coup engineered by young army officers. More than any other figure in the Arab world he seemed to have a vision of Arab nationalism. He had read in American books that it cost the oil companies only 10 cents to produce a barrel of oil in the Middle East, and that the average Middle Eastern well produced four thousand barrels a day, far more than the average American well. Oil, then, ...

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