The world was forever changed when American geologists and engineers in the 1930s and 1940s discovered oil in Saudi Arabia and developed the Middle Eastern oil industry.
Timothy J. Barger and Thomas W. Lippman will examine this significant period in history when they discuss a book at the Library of Congress by the late, award-winning author Wallace Stegner titled “Discovery! The Search for Arabian Oil.”
The lecture starts at 11:30 a.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 28, in Dining Room A on the sixth floor of the James Madison Building, 101 Independence Ave. S.E., Washington, D.C. Free and open to the public, the event is sponsored by the Library’s Science, Technology and Business Division, and African and Middle Eastern Division.
In 1955, Aramco (the Arabian American Oil Company) commissioned Stegner to write a narrative account of the creation and development of the oil industry in Saudi Arabia. The manuscript was shelved until 1967, when it was unearthed, purged of material that had worried Aramco executives and published in 14 installments of “Aramco World.” An abridged version was published in Lebanon in 1971, but it remained unpublished in the United States until September 2007.
In “Discovery! The Search for Arabian Oil,” Stegner chronicled the construction of the first wells, the political and corporate tussles, and the collaboration across cultures. It’s a tale that includes Saudi princes, U.S. scientists, mechanics, desert guides, British nobility and a cast of colorful characters.
Stegner (1909-1993), who won the Pulitzer Prize in 1972 for “Angle of Repose,” was the author of more than 30 books. He was a writing professor at Stanford University when Aramco hired him to write the narrative account of the oil venture’s early days.
Tim Barger was born in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. His father, Thomas C. Barger, arrived in the kingdom in 1937 as a junior geologist and retired in 1969 as CEO and president of Aramco. The younger Barger established the first Saudi video and cable TV company in Jeddah, and has also worked as a film maker and producer of both films and scientific videos in California for 20 years. In 2000 he founded Selwa Press, which published “Discovery!”
Thomas W. Lippman is an adjunct scholar at the Public Policy Center at The Middle East Institute. For more than 30 years, Lippman was a reporter and editor for the Washington Post. He has written a number of books, including “Inside the Mirage: America’s Fragile Partnership with Saudi Arabia” (2004) and “Madeleine Albright and the New American Diplomacy” (2000).