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Ed Shaffer.

Edmonton, Hurtig Publishers, c1983.
296pp, paper, $27.95 (cloth), $14.95 (paper).
ISBN 0-88830-233-9 (cloth), 0-88830-234-7 (paper).

Grades 12 and up.
Reviewed by George Gereben.

Volume 11 Number 5.
1983 September.

Oil. Much has been written about one of the most important commodities in today's society, its gluts, its shortages, its price and, perhaps most importantly, its future.

Ed Shaffer, a professor of economics at the University of Alberta, has written a new book dealing with the rise of the American Empire in relation to American control of world oil, primarily in Canada.

In Canada's Oil and the American Empire, Shaffer presents to the reader a wealth, even a glut, of information on the subject of American control of oil. He links, in an admirable and logical fashion, the rise of oil as a world commodity to the emergence of the United States as a world power. He follows this with a description of the current problems it faces as oil no longer totally dominates the energy scene.

Though primarily concerned with the relationship between Canada and the U.S., Shaffer does not neglect the rest of the world. As he traces American dominance, he relates everything in a world-wide perspective and not as an isolated North American incident.

He traces the rise and subsequent faltering of the American empire through several phases of oil development. Starting with the pre-World War I era when development and control of oil was mainly in the hands of private enterprise, to the between war period when Shaffer says "oil became the key commodity in U.S. foreign policy," to the post-World War II era when an effort was made to control all oil resources, particularly in Canada, where American money replaced British investments, a definite pattern is seen in the growth of the American Empire.

The last phase soon gave way to current problems that began to erode the base of American control. Canadian efforts to become energy self-sufficient, OPEC, development of other sources of energy and other factors all combined to change the status quo and led Shaffer to observe "the end of the oil era spells the end of the age of American dominance. The American Empire, like all empires of the past, will fade into oblivion."

It is obvious Shaffer has researched his material well, and there is an abundance of it, too much to merely sit down and read the book for sheer enjoyment. Though well written, the average reader would find the well documented volume rather hard going. Instead, Shaffer's book would be more useful as a resource and reference tool. Because of its subject matter, the book would be useful to both history and economics students of the senior secondary levels and up.

George Gereben, Hamilton, ON.
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