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Edward L. Doheny: Petroleum, Power, and Politics in the United States and Mexico
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If there had been a Life Styles of the Rich and Famous in the 1920s, the notorious oil tycoon Edward L. Doheny would surely have been featured. For at the peak of his powers, between 1904 and 1927, this L.A. hometown boy was one of the most important men of his times and, in fact, one of the richest and most powerful men in the world. As the first to discover oil in Los Angeles—which sparked an oil boom there—this multi-faceted entrepreneur profoundly influenced the growth of both Los Angeles and the state of California. Then, as one of its earliest developers, Doheny helped put Beverly Hills on the map. On an international scale, he established vast oil fields in Mexico and virtually controlled that country’s oil industry. This petroleum state that Doheny created and ruled extended over Veracruz, Tamaulipas, and San Luis Patosi and was defended by a Doheny-financed army of 6,000 men. The oil baron’s opposition to the various revolutionary governments is legendary and some historians believe that Doheny was responsible for the murder of Mexican President Carranza. Finally, Doheny played a major role in the Teapot Dome Scandal, the greatest political impropriety in U.S. history up to that time. Dan La Botz has taken this rich collection of material plus new information on Doheny’s personal life and provided the first biography of a man who, for better or worse, left his mark on the nation’s industrial and economic development.
The ten-chapter biography integrates all Doheny’s nefarious doings and gives a full account of his attempts to shape U.S. foreign policy. In addition to assessing Doheny’s public life, the study reviews the causes of his son and his son’s best friend’s deaths. La Botz details how Doheny almost singlehandedly created the Fuel-oil Age by helping convert railroads from coal-burning to petroleum-burning engines and in the process opened up a huge market for petroleum as fuel. Edward L. Doheny, for the first time, gives a complete and accurate estimation of the oilman’s part in the Teapot Dome Scandal, detailing how Doheny bribed his friend Albert Bacon Fall, a cabinet member of the U.S. Secretary of the Interior, and corrupted the highest levels of U.S. government in an attempt to control the U.S. Navy’s oil reserve. As a biography, La Botz attempts to understand the major events of Doheny’s personal life while concentrating on his role as economic and political leader. He also provides us with the history of the Doheny companies and a study of imperialism in its classical period. This in-depth biography will shed much light on the period for students and scholars of U.S. and Mexican history and will be read avidly by general readers interested in the growth of Los Angeles and the infancy of the oil industry.
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