Texas A&M University Press

Kenneth E. Montague Series in Oil and Business History

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Kenneth E. Montague Series in Oil and Business History


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Ben Love

My Life in Texas Commerce

By Ben F. Love; Foreword by James A. Baker III

Serving as CEO of Texas Commerce Bancshares in the 1980s, during the collapse of the Texas banking industry, Ben Love had an inside view of the debacle. His story, told here in detail for the first time, provides an insightful perspective on the Texas banking industry’s evolution after World War II, its decline, and its subsequent recovery. It also offers a glimpse into of the kind of character that creates men of power. Love grew up with his family during the Great Depression. Their farm outside Paris, Texas, taught him hard lessons about opportunity and financial security lessons that would serve him well in the future. After America’s entry into war in 1941, Love flew 8th Air Force B-17 combat missions over Europe, and then settled in Houston with his business degree in the late 1940s. His entrance into the world of banking began as a member of the board of directors for River Oaks Bank & Trust. Houston was rapidly growing into a metropolis, and he accepted an offer to leave River Oaks to join Texas Commerce Bank in 1967. As president of Texas Commerce Bank (TCB) in 1969 and CEO in 197289, Love cultivated change from single banks to holding companies, garnering a national reputation for his banking organization. In 1984, Texas Commerce was the twenty-first-largest bank in the country. Under his competent management, TCB was the only Big Five Texas bank to survive the economic downturn. One reason for its continued success lies with Loves successful merger in 1987 with the Chemical Bank of New York, now J. P. Morgan Chase. Not only does Ben F. Love’s memoir reveal an inside look at the evolution of banking in Texas, but it will serve as an instructional guide to future business leaders and managers.

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Electric City

General Electric in Schenectady

Julia Kirk Blackwelder

For seven decades the General Electric Company maintained its manufacturing and administrative headquarters in Schenectady, New York. 

Electric City: General Electric in Schenectady explores the history of General Electric in Schenectady from the company’s creation in 1892 to the present. As one of America’s largest and most successful corporations, GE built a culture centered around the social good of technology and the virtues of the people who produced it. 

At its core, GE culture posited that engineers, scientists, and craftsmen engaged in a team effort to produce technologically advanced material goods that served society and led to corporate profits. Scientists were discoverers, engineers were designers and problem solvers, and craftsmen were artists.

Historian Julia Kirk Blackwelder has drawn on company records as well as other archival and secondary sources and personal interviews to produce an engaging and multi-layered history of General Electric’s workplace culture and its planned (and actual) effects on community life. Her research demonstrates how business and community histories intersect, and this nuanced look at race, gender, and class sets a standard for corporate history.

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Labor, Civil Rights, and the Hughes Tool Company

By Michael R. Botson Jr.

On July 12, 1964, in a momentous decision, the National Labor Relations Board decertified the racially segregated Independent Metal Workers Union as the collective bargaining agent at Houston’s mammoth Hughes Tool Company. The unanimous decision ending nearly fifty years of Jim Crow unionism at the company marked the first time in the Labor Board’s history that it ruled that racial discrimination by a union violated the National Labor Relations Act and was therefore illegal. The ruling was for black workers the equivalent of the Brown v. Board of Education decision by the Supreme Court in the area of education. Michael R. Botson carefully traces the Jim Crow unionism of the company and the efforts of black union activists to bring civil rights issues into the workplace. His analysis places Hughes Tool in the context created by the National Labor Relations Act and the formation of the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO). It clearly demonstrates that without federal intervention, workers at Hughes Tool would never have been able to overcome management’s opposition to unionization and to racial equality. Drawing on interviews with many of the principals, as well as extensive mining of company and legal archives, Botson’s study “captures a moment in time when a segment of Houston’s working-class seized the initiative and won economic and racial justice in their work place.”

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Offshore Imperative

Shell Oil’s Search for Petroleum in Postwar America

By Tyler Priest

 “. . . tells a dramatic story of imaginative businessmen and engineers who propelled Shell forward in the search for ways to locate and recover oil from the depths of the sea.”—Southwestern Historical Quarterly    “This book clarifies some of the concerns that are specific to a company like Shell and shows how information acquisition and processing provided the company with a tangible competitive advantage.”—Business History Review    “This book’s narrative is sustained throughout by easily understood explanations of the technical details of drilling and production.”—Journal of Southern History 

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Oilfield Revolutionary

The Career of Everette Lee DeGolyer

Houston Faust Mount II

Everette Lee DeGolyer wore many hats—and he wore them with distinction. Though not a geophysicist, he helped make geophysics central to oil exploration. Though not a politician, he played an important role in the national politics of energy. Though trained as a geologist, he became an important business executive. DeGolyer left his stamp on oil exploration and his name on a number of philanthropic institutions, including the DeGolyer Library at Southern Methodist University.
This account of DeGolyer’s life, at once readable and yet authoritative, covers the period from his training with the United States Geological Survey in the American West, to his geological exploration of Mexico during the Revolution of the 1910s, his pioneering investment in geophysical prospecting technologies, and his work on behalf of the United States government in World War II, including a ground-breaking secret mission to the Middle East. Houston Mount develops his account of the career of Everette Lee DeGolyer in a way that provides a useful lens through which to examine the rising fortunes of earth scientists in the oil industry and in government—a process for which DeGolyer’s spectacular career was both an exemplar and a catalyst.

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Oilfield Trash

Life and Labor in the Oil Patch

Bobby D. Weaver

When the first gusher blew in at Spindletop, near Beaumont, Texas, in 1901, petroleum began to supplant cotton and cattle as the economic engine of the state and region. Very soon, much of the workforce migrated from the cotton field to the oilfield, following the lure of the wealth being created by black gold. The early decades of the twentieth century witnessed the development of an oilfield culture, as these workers defined and solidified their position within the region’s social fabric. Over time, the work force grew more professionalized, and technological change attracted a different type of laborer. Bobby D. Weaver grew up and worked in the oil patch. Now, drawing on oral histories supplemented and confirmed by other research, he tells the colorful stories of the workers who actually brought oil wealth to Texas. Drillers, shooters, toolies, pipeliners, teamsters, roustabouts, tank builders, roughnecks . . . each of them played a role in the frenzied, hard-driving lifestyle of the boomtowns that sprouted overnight in association with each major oil discovery. Weaver tracks the differences between company workers and contract workers. He details the work itself and the ethos that surrounds it. He highlights the similarities and differences from one field to another and traces changing aspects of the work over time. Above all, Oilfield Trash captures the unique voices of the laboring people who worked long, hard hours, often risking life and limb to keep the drilling rigs “turning to the right.”

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Richard E. Wainerdi and the Texas Medical Center

William Henry Kellar

In 2012, Richard E. Wainerdi retired as president and chief executive officer of the Texas Medical Center after almost three decades at the helm. During his tenure, Wainerdi oversaw the expansion of the center into the world’s largest medical complex, hosting more than fifty separate institutions. “I wasn’t playing any of the instruments, but it’s been a privilege being the conductor,” he once said to a newspaper reporter.

William Henry Kellar traces Wainerdi’s remarkable life story from a bookish childhood in the Bronx to a bold move west to study petroleum engineering at the University of Oklahoma. Wainerdi went on to earn a master’s degree and a PhD from Penn State University where he immersed himself in nuclear engineering. By the late 1950s, Texas A&M University recruited Wainerdi to found the Nuclear Science Center, where he also served as professor and later associate vice president for academic affairs.

In the 1980s, Wainerdi took charge of the Texas Medical Center, embarking on a “second career” that ultimately expanded the center from thirty-one institutions to fifty-three and increased its size threefold. Wainerdi pushed for and ensured a culture of collaboration and cooperation. In doing this, he developed a new nonprofit administrative model that emphasized building consensus, providing vital support services, and connecting member institutions with resources that enabled them to focus on their unique areas of expertise. At a time when Houston was widely known as the “energy capital of the world,” the city also became home to the largest medical complex in the world. Wainerdi’s success was to enable each member of the Texas Medical Center to be an integral part of something bigger and something very special in the development of modern medicine.

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Strategic Petroleum Reserve

U.S. Energy Security and Oil Politics, 1975-2005

By Bruce A. Beaubouef

In 1973, the United States and other western countries were shocked by the Arab oil embargo. Lines formed at gasoline pumps; fuel stations ran out of supply; prices skyrocketed; and the nation realized its vulnerability to decisions made by leaders of countries half a world away. In response, the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR), which was signed into law by President Gerald Ford in 1975, has become the nation’s primary tool of energy policy. Following its first major use during the Persian Gulf War of 1991, officials and policy makers at the highest levels increasingly turned to the SPR to stave off shortages and mitigate rising energy prices. Author and historian Bruce A. Beaubouef examines, for the first time, the interactions that have shaped the development of the SPR. He argues that the SPR has survived because it is a passive regulatory tool that serves to protect energy consumers and petroleum consumption and does not compete with the American oil industry. Indeed, by the late twentieth century, as American import dependency reached new heights, refiners and transporters increasingly relied upon the SPR as a ready resource to help maintain feedstock when supplies were tight or disrupted. In a time of continued vulnerability, this definitive work will be of interest to those concerned with the history, economy, and politics of the oil and gas industry, as well as to historians and practitioners of oil and energy policy.


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