The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 92, July 1988 - April, 1989

Southwestern Historical Quarterly

The verdict on Graham's contribution to southwestern literature is
still pending. He might have referred to his American legacy when he
wrote that "hardly any of the horses that I rode had shoes on them, and
thus the tracks are faint" (p. 113).
San Joaquin Delta College HARLAN HAGUE
Oil and Honor: The Texaco-Pennzoil Wars, Inside the $iz Billion Battle for
Getty Oil. By Thomas Petzinger, Jr. (New York: G. P. Putnam &
Sons, 1987. Pp. 495. Author's note, preface, photographs, sources,
index. $19.95.)
From 1984 through 1988, two giants of the Texas oil industry-Tex-
aco and Pennzoil-played out an economic and legal drama with far-
reaching implications for the economies of Texas and the nation. At
issue in their struggle was the acquisition of a third oil company, Getty
Oil. In January of 1984, Pennzoil's chairman, Hugh Liedtke, thought
he had closed the deal of his lifetime by acquiring Getty Oil, whose vast
reserves of crude oil seemed destined to push Pennzoil up the ranks of
the nation's major oil companies. Yet as Liedtke savored the moment of
his greatest success, Texaco mounted a sudden and seemingly success-
ful eleventh-hour bid for Getty Oil. Thwarted by its much larger rival,
Pennzoil turned to the courts for relief. After a spectacular trial, Penn-
zoil won an unprecedented $11 billion judgment for real and punitive
damages. Petzinger's account stops with the handing down of this ver-
dict, which ultimately was reduced to "only" about $3 billion after nu-
merous appeals and negotiations between the two companies. His book
presents the best treatment available of this complicated and emotional
episode of corporate warfare, which probably will be studied by future
historians as the climax of the merger and acquisitions spree of the late
197os and early 1980s.
Petzinger covered the Texaco-Pennzoil battle for the Wall Street Jour-
nal, and his book has both the strengths and weaknesses of good inves-
tigative reporting. He makes excellent use of interviews and transcripts
from the trial to reconstruct a lively, personalized account of the events
leading up to the dispute. Included are historical portraits of the com-
panies and the individuals involved. The book is written in an engag-
ing, anecdotal style that is particularly effective in giving the reader a
sense of the people behind the events. The trial over damages was both
dramatic and entertaining, and Petzinger places the reader in a ring-
side seat for the show. Despite the book's length and a measure of re-
petitiveness, few who are interested in the oil industry will put it down
before they have read it through to the end.

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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 92, July 1988 - April, 1989. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101212/. Accessed July 5, 2015.