Crude Genius

The Making of an International Oil Baron William H. McGarvey


“An unknown and hitherto untold story of one of the true pioneers of the international oil industry.” William McGarvey was crowned the “Petroleum King of Austria,” dubbed “Europe’s Rockefeller,” advised the British government in the great debate over converting its naval fleet to oil fuel in preparation for World War I. His story is one that links Canada, the US, Austro-Hungary, Russia, and Romania. Today, we are witnessing a global campaign to bring to an end King Oil’s 150-year reign by shrinking the world’s reliance on fossil fuels. Yet the story of the early years of how the petroleum world evolved remains wrapped in obscurity. Crude Genius fills in an important gap in that history. The story of William McGarvey covers just five decades. Yet in that period, McGarvey became a leader in the procurement of oil, and raised it from a primitive act to a sophisticated international business. He transformed the primitive practice of oil extraction into a science and a powerful technology. He drilled and refined oil, he manufactured equipment, and built pipelines.