Crude Nation


Crude Nation

How Oil Riches Ruined Venezuela

Raúl Gallegos

256 pages
9 photographs, 1 map, index


October 2016


$34.95 Add to Cart

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.


Author Bio

Raúl Gallegos, an associate director 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.


"Superbly reported."—Wall Street Journal

"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

“This briskly written book nicely explains how the oil curse has worked in Venezuela, especially in the Chavez era.”—Fareed Zakaria, CNN

Crude Nation shows how what was once South America’s most stable, wealthy country swerved towards the abyss. A former economic journalist who lived in Caracas. . . . Gallegos blends analysis with reportage, including a picaresque road trip with a Che Guevara lookalike—to show how Maduro inherited a mess and made it worse.”—Rory Carroll, Guardian

"A fascinating analysis."—Foreign Affairs Latinoamérica

"[A] fine book."—Mac Margolis, Bloomberg View

"Crude Nation brilliantly paints the reality, and comprehensively expounds the extent and implications of Venezuela’s mishandling of precious and finite oil riches, and its unpropitious economic mismanagement."—Impeccable Business

"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

"Mr. Gallegos has a sharp eye for the dizzying grind of everyday coping in a western consumerist society reduced overnight into one of shortages, barter, and black markets. A government committed to the empowerment of the underprivileged now presides over a cascading economic contraction that has hurt all economic sectors."—Robert Goddard, Latin Americanist

"A timely, important book."—Publishers Weekly

"A deeply insightful book."—Washington Book Review

“Gallegos provides a compelling, enlightening view into the everyday—challenging readers to understand life in one of the world’s most volatile economies.”—Ian Bremmer, president of the Eurasia Group and author of Superpower: Three Choices for America's Role in the World

“An invitation to understand the tragedy of one of the richest economies in the hands of an irresponsible and tyrannical government.”—Álvaro Uribe, former president of Colombia

“Venezuela’s tragedy was not inevitable. Why did it happen? How could it have been avoided? Who pushed Venezuelan society into the abyss of misery, death and corruption where it now lies? These pages offer interesting clues to answer these questions.”—Moisés Naím, author of The End of Power 

“Raúl Gallegos is a sharp-eyed guide to the alternate universe that is contemporary Venezuela. His new book, Crude Nation, makes for a lively, surprising read.”—Paul M. Barrett, author of Law of the Jungle

Crude Nation ponders Hugo Chávez’s legacy: an economy run more on magical realism than on either Keynes or Marx. How does a country with the world’s largest oil reserves fail so miserably in virtually every critical sector? Gallegos has a compelling theory why and has more answers than most.”—Ann Louise Bardach, PEN award–winning journalist and author of Without Fidel: A Death Foretold in Miami, Havana, and Washington

Crude Nation is essential reading for those wanting to understand what is happening in Venezuela today and what it will take to turn that nation around.”—Shannon K. O’Neil, Nelson and David Rockefeller Senior Fellow for Latin American Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations and author of Two Nations Indivisible: Mexico, the United States, and the Road Ahead

“Raúl Gallegos does a superb job chronicling Venezuela’s myriad woes. No other account captures in such stark terms and vivid detail how calamitous the utter mismanagement of oil riches can be for an economy and society. Crude Nation tells a tragic, cautionary tale—one with untold costs for most Venezuelans.”—Michael Shifter, president of the Inter-American Dialogue think tank 

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Author's Note
1. 1-800-LEO
2. Infinite Wants
3. Let There Be Oil
4. Everyman
5. Funny Business
6. Oil for the People
7. Mango Management
Selected Bibliography

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