Sources: Oil: A Cultural and Geographic Encyclopedia of Black Gold

Oil: A Cultural and Geographic Encyclopedia of Black Gold. Edited by Xiaobing Li and Michael Molina. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 2014. 2 vols. Acid free $189 (ISBN: 978-1-61069-281-7). Ebook available (978-1-61069-272-4), call for pricing.

In the winter of 2015, as this review is being written, the price of gasoline is plummeting in the United States and what this will mean for the individual, community, and country for the immediate future but also in years to come is unknown. There are a wide range of implications in politics, economics, and international relations as well as effects on what the individual pays for everyday groceries. It is therefore important that libraries provide their communities with the resources that include information and discussion on how energy and its monetary value interact with society.

In Oil: A Cultural and Geographic Encyclopedia of Black Gold, editors Xiaobing Li and Michael Molina have gathered fifteen researchers and academic writers to create a two-volume reference work on “the most important and widely used source of energy in the world” (xiii). Volume 1 has 146 topical entries on key concepts, events, and individuals relevant to petroleum production and consumption while volume 2 provides 79 geographic entries of countries involved in the oil industry. The signed entries (2–4 pages long) are listed alphabetically, complimented by black-and-white photography and completed by individual lists of references. Volume 2 also includes a selected bibliography and a general index.

In their very informative introduction, Li and Molina explain that Oil “provides not only the facts but also a new approach to these important questions by examining issues through historical, cultural, geographic, and political perspectives” (xx). It is this new encyclopedia’s interdisciplinary approach that makes it such a valuable resource by giving a broader context to oil in human society. As Oil takes such a unique and wider perspective on oil production, there is no reference title for comparison, but this reviewer recommends this reference title as a relevant addition to any public or academic library.—Paul MacLennan, Government Documents Coordinator, CSU–East Bay Library, Hayward, California


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