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The Oracle of Oil

A Maverick Geologist's Quest for a Sustainable Future


Mason Inman (Author)

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A biography of Marion King Hubbert, one of the twentieth century’s most influential energy experts, who was dubbed the “father of peak oil”.

In 1956, geophysicist and Shell Oil researcher Marion King Hubbert forecast that American oil production would peak surprisingly soon and decline steadily thereafter. Hubbert’s prediction outraged the architects of the US oil industry at the time but it was largely correct. Amid a twenty-first century shale boom, Hubbert’s logic remains a source of debate.

Richly researched, The Oracle of Oil rescues the history of a man who shocked the scientific community with his brilliance, eccentricity and controversy. Mason Inman shows Hubbert was a man of his era: a time of great intellectual ferment and discovery tinged by dark undercurrents of intellectual witch hunts. A portrait of a man whose prescient ideas about sustainability still resonate today, The Oracle of Oil looks to the past to find a guiding philosophy for our energy future.


“... well written, deeply researched and rich in anecdote – Hubbert’s character and his intellectual achievements sing out.” — New Scientist


Short-Listed — PEN Center USA Literary Award for Research Nonfiction, 2017