To be a useful tool, a bibliography must introduce and explain its subject, justifying its existence by the importance of its subject; cover the subject exhaustively and yet not include extraneous subjects; be intelligently classified so that items can be readily found; and characterize at least some of the literature. On all these counts, Sullivan and McBeth perform well.
The subject is unquestionably important, but a problem arises from the juxtaposition of petroleum and Venezuela. Most of those writing about any aspect of twentieth-century Venezuela or about international oil deal with both petroleum and Venezuela, a fact not always evident from titles or even short descriptions of books and articles. It becomes a tricky decision to accept or leave out borderline items. Winfield Burggraaff’s Venezuelan Armed Forces in Politics, 1935-1959 is missing from this bibliography, as are Raymond Crist’s Venezuela and Anthony Sampsons Seven Sisters. Still, the researchers’ coverage is broad enough so that it is almost a bibliography of modern Venezuela. In an introductory essay, the researchers sketch the role of oil in Venezuela.
The bibliography’s 5, 111 items, including citations from nearly 400 journals, are divided into four classifications. Reference materials are divided into handbooks and annuals, the first 106 items, and journals, the next 117 items. Economics, also in two categories, general economics and economic geography, constitutes the next 364 items. The third category is Petroleum Technology, requiring 415 entries. The great bulk of the bibliography, 80 percent of the entries, is the classification Petroleum, broken down into about 70 subclassifications.
As in most bibliographies, many entries are trivial, consisting of two- or three-page articles of no consequence. For about half the entries, the researchers add a sentence or two, reporting its contents more completely, but they avoid evaluation. Venezuelan and petroleum researchers welcome this bibliography. It should be in any library that has any significant Latin American collection, even though the price is steep.