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The Reckoning by David Halberstam

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1. MAXWELL’S WARNING

THERE HAD BEEN PLENTY of warnings. Some experts had pointed out that the sources of oil were not limitless, that consumption was rising faster than production. Some noted that certain of the oil-producing countries were politically unstable and hostile to the United States. The men of the auto industry had never heeded the warnings. They dismissed them as veiled criticisms of the cars they were making.

In June 1973, a young man named Charley Maxwell flew from New York to Detroit to talk to the top executives of the three main auto companies. A decade later astute observers would mark that particular time, mid-1973, as the last moment of the old order in the industrialized world. It was a time when energy was still remarkably ...

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