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Panic at the Pump

Meg Jacobs has written Panic at the Pump, a history of the 1970s energy crisis in the US which, in her view, destroyed post New Deal liberalism, bringing a generation of small-government conservatives to power.

There were two distinct oil shocks: the first arising from the Yom Kippur War and the resulting embargo (1973-74), the second from the fall of the Shah in Iran (1979).

I haven't read the book, except for brief excerpts available online. I notice it here only as a work likely to prove of interest for my astute and ever-curious readers.

Here's one of those brief excerpts:"[T]he embargo stunned Americans, as if they had come under a surprise attack, if not an outright act of war, because of the serious implications for the economy and the country's security. By 1973, Americans relied on oil for almost half of their energy needs, and each day imports made up an expanding portion of the country's supply."

Imports, the author says, were 36% of US oil supply in 1973, and the public had been unaware of this before the embargo suddenly made it an urgent matter. We thought of ourselves as an oil producing nation -- as indeed, we were and are, though not to a degree that could or can sate our demand for the stuff.


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