Happy Book Birthday to Crude Nation!


Book Birthdays celebrate one year of a book’s life in tweets, reviews, and more. This month we’re saying Happy First Book Birthday to Crude Nation: How Oil Riches Ruined Venezuela (Potomac Books, 2016) by Raúl Gallegos! Gallegos, a senior analyst for the consulting firm Control Risks, has been a featured columnist for Bloomberg View, covering Latin American politics, business, and finance. He has been an oil correspondent with Dow Jones and the Wall Street Journal

About the book: 

Beneath Venezuelan soil lies an ocean of crude—the world’s largest reserves—an oil patch that shaped the nature of the global energy business. Unfortunately, a dysfunctional anti-American, leftist government controls this vast resource and has used its wealth to foster voter support, ultimately wreaking economic havoc.

Crude Nation reveals the ways in which this mismanagement has led to Venezuela’s economic ruin and turned the country into a cautionary tale for the world. Raúl Gallegos, a former Caracas-based oil correspondent, paints a picture both vivid and analytical of the country’s economic decline, the government’s foolhardy economic policies, and the wrecked lives of Venezuelans.

Without transparency, the Venezuelan government uses oil money to subsidize life for its citizens in myriad unsustainable ways, while regulating nearly every aspect of day-to-day existence in Venezuela. This has created a paradox in which citizens can fill up the tanks of their SUVs for less than one American dollar while simultaneously enduring nationwide shortages of staples such as milk, sugar, and toilet paper. Gallegos’s insightful analysis shows how mismanagement has ruined Venezuela again and again over the past century and lays out how Venezuelans can begin to fix their country, a nation that can play an important role in the global energy industry.


“Gallegos provides crucial background for the country’s present situation, and also offers a solution for fixing the country’s economy and helping it re-enter the global energy industry.”—New York Times
“Superbly reported.”—Wall Street Journal
“Gallegos’ book provides an excellent summary of today’s Venezuela, and a solid explanation of the historical trends that have produced the country’s ongoing tragedy.”—Jason Fargo, America’s Quarterly
“A timely, important book.”—Publishers Weekly
“A fascinating analysis.”—Foreign Affairs Latinoamérica
“[A] fine book.”—Mac Margolis, Bloomberg View
Author articles and interviews: 
  • Venezuela’s Addiction: The Crisis of Chavismo Is a New Version of an Old Problem via Foreign Affairs
  • Talking Policy: Raúl Gallegos on Venezuelans’ Relationship with Oil via World Policy

On Twitter: 

A word from the author:

Gallegos_RaulThe anniversary of Crude Nation is a good moment to point out that publishing this book was key to retaining my personal sanity. For one, I just needed to get this book out of my head and onto paper after years of mulling how to write a book about Venezuela that really captured the nature of its insane economic reality. And second, because it was my long held view that this country, run by a populist, dictatorial government would end up mired in the deepest crisis in its history, and become an example for the world. Many publishers turned down the book convinced that Venezuela’s woes would end soon and the book would lose relevance. They were far too optimistic. They were wrong. And I was not crazy for expecting a deep political, cultural and economic crisis in Venezuela, even when everyone else insisted it would all blow over quickly. There is a lesson I have learned from this experience and that is that we as humans must have the courage to think tragically, and not always expect the rosy version of events to happen. The other big lesson one must take away from Venezuela’s deepening mess is that power can still be used for evil in this day and age. The fact that we have made enormous technological, social and political strides in the past twenty years, that we have social media outlets like Twitter, Facebook and others, doesn’t meant that bad governments cannot come to power and ruin institutions, the economy and set back our societies several decades. People left behind by globalization and whose culture has changed dramatically in a globalized world are scared and they are willing to elect leaders who promise to return their societies to the perceived golden years of the past, no matter what it takes.

The book has been very well received. It was immediately translated and published in Spanish by Grupo Planeta. It was positively reviewed by the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, and it has received early praise by leading political commentators such as Moises Naim and Iain Bremmer. Moreover, Columbia University’s Knight Bagehot program awarded the book its Christopher J. Welles prize for good storytelling and timeliness. As a result of Crude Nation I have been invited to speak to a number of audiences including briefing staff at the US Department of State, and at the US House of Representatives. And the Cato Institute in Washington, DC chose to present the book in its headquarters this month.

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