In discussions of modern Venezuelan history, it is often stated (or assumed) that oil is everything. Petroleum, according to this interpretation, has fundamentally driven the nation's economic, political, social, and cultural evolution for almost a century. Even scholars who hesitate to embrace such a strong view of oil's historical primacy find it difficult to deny the role of petroleum in shaping Venezuela's most recent era. As observers across the political spectrum have noted, the rise, zenith, and crisis of Hugo Chávez's Bolivarian Revolution have followed swings in the global oil market.

The publication of this book by Brian McBeth, an established expert on Venezuelan economic and political history, is thus quite timely. La política petrolera venezolana provides a clear and concise, if somewhat data-dense, introduction to the evolution of the nation's oil policy since the 1920s. With a heavy emphasis on the...

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