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Dr. Stephen Holland

Asst. Professor

Dr. Stephen Holland

The Prize: The Epic Quest for Oil, Money, & Power by Daniel Yergin

The Prize by Daniel Yergin is a wonderful telling of the story of one of society’s most important (and lucrative!) resources: oil. This book is especially important for me because I discovered it at a crucial point in my career. I had just received my Ph.D. in economics from the University of Michigan and was starting to work at the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). In graduate school, I gained a deep theoretical understanding of economics, but at the FTC I was suddenly expected to apply this knowledge to answer crucial questions about the oil industry. My supervisor, a top-notch theoretical economist from Stanford, kept a copy of The Prize on his bookshelf, and I knew that I should do the same. The book stressed the importance of historical and institutional details that are treated abstractly in theoretical economics. I knew that I wanted to be an economist who understood not only the theoretical constructs of modern economics but also the historical and institutional details of the industry which make the theoretical analysis relevant or not.