The nineteenth century was an exciting and dynamic era of rapid progress in industry and technology. One of the most vigorous of the new industries was petroleum. It first transformed the way people lit their houses, displacing whale oil and other substitutes, and then revolutionized the entire field of energy and helped create the modern world. During the nineteenth century, oil was overwhelmingly dominated by the United States and the Russian Empire, together responsible for 97% of the world’s production; and over the course of the century, nearly all the Russian Empire’s oil came from the territory that is now the independent state of Azerbaijan. Many people don’t know that the world’s first industrial oil well was drilled in Azerbaijan in 1846, thirteen years before Drake’s celebrated well in Pennsylvania. This book covers oil in the United States and Azerbaijan, in all its dynamism, from its earliest beginnings to the turn of the twentieth century. It treats both business and technology, from the early wildcatters to Standard Oil and the Nobel Brothers (yes, that remarkable family created more than a famous prize!). The book echoes into the present day; for good or ill, oil still moves the world.
Marius Vassiliou received his PhD in geophysics from the California Institute of Technology and is author of The Historical Dictionary of the Petroleum Industry.
Mir-Yusif Mir-Babayev is professor at Azerbaijan Technical University.
Chapter 1: Characterizing Nineteenth-Century Oil Production
Chapter 2: Illumination: The Nineteenth Century’s “Killer App”
Chapter 3: Before the Nineteenth Century
Chapter 4: The First Modern Oil Well
Chapter 5: Nineteenth-Century Oil in the United States
Chapter 6: Nineteenth-Century Oil in Azerbaijan
Chapter 7: Technology and Operations
Appendix A: Barrels and Poods
Appendix B: Important Individuals
Appendix C: Chronology
Appendix D: Statistical Tables
“Two Titans” is a gusher! It’s the finest examination of the concurrent first discovery of commercial oil deposits in the United States and the Caucasus. Marius Vassiliou and Mir-Yusif Mir-Babayev take their places alongside Daniel Yergin and Ron Chernow in explaining the birth of the petroleum age and the spectacular growth of the oil economy in the late 1800s.
The authors are to be congratulated and commended for bringing together such divergent topics into one very readable book. The work is extremely well researched and nicely organized. This book should be required reading for anyone with even the slightest interest in the history of our world petroleum industry. And even for those with little interest in the history of petroleum, this book will certainly spark an interest.