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A History of Royal Dutch Shell


  • van Zanden, Jan Luiten

    (Professor of Economic and Social History, University of Utrecht)

  • Jonker, Joost

    (Lecturer and Researcher, University of Utrecht)

  • Howarth, Stephen

    (Naval and business historian)

  • Sluyterman, Keetie

    (Professor of Business History, University of Utrecht)


Understanding oil is essential for understanding modern history. The 20th century has rightly been called the century of oil, and the importance of this most strategic of commodities shows now sign of abating in the 21st century. From its creation in 1907 Royal Dutch Shell has played a key role in the global oil industry. For most of the 20th century Royal Dutch Shell was either the largest, or after Standard Oil/Exxon, the second largest oil company. This authoritative and meticulously researched history three volume history provides an unparalleled account of the company's rich and diverse history. It shows how access to oil was both the cause of many a conflict, and a key to victory in wars fought for other causes. Oil powered the economy and provided the raw materials for products such as plastics, detergents, and pesticides which radically changed our culture and material environment. The first volume, by Joost Jonker and Jan Luiten van Zanden covers the development of Royal Dutch Shell from the foundation of the two main constituting companies until the outbreak of the Second World War, years of rapid growth, when the company was dominated by Henri Deterding. The second volume by Stephen Howarth and Joost Jonker takes the story from the Outbreak of the Second World War to the first oil crisis of 1973. Volume three by Keetie Sluyterman highlights how Shell faced up to the nationalizations in the oil industry in the 1970s, and to the challenges of collapsing oils price in the 1980s; and concludes in the 21st century when once again nationalizations and concerns about oil supply resurfaced, and how the two parent companies were finally unified. Based on unrestricted access to Royal Dutch Shell's archives, these beautifully designed and illustrated books provide a unique insight into one of the world's great companies.

Suggested Citation

  • van Zanden, Jan Luiten & Jonker, Joost & Howarth, Stephen & Sluyterman, Keetie, 2007. "A History of Royal Dutch Shell," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199298778.
  • Handle: RePEc:oxp:obooks:9780199298778

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    Cited by:

    1. repec:spr:minecn:v:31:y:2018:i:1:d:10.1007_s13563-017-0122-y is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Michael Heller, 2008. "Corporate Brand Building at Shell-Mex Ltd in the Interwar Period," Working Papers 23, Queen Mary, University of London, School of Business and Management, Centre for Globalisation Research.

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