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The Teapot Dome Scandal: How Big Oil Bought the Harding White House and Tried to Steal the Country (2008)

by Laton McCartney

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2668101,954 (3.71)14
In The Teapot Dome Scandal, acclaimed author Laton McCartney tells the amazing, complex, and at times ribald story of how Big Oil handpicked Warren G. Harding, an obscure Ohio senator, to serve as our twenty-third president. Harding and his so-called "oil cabinet" made it possible for the oilmen to secure vast oil reserves that had been set aside for use by the U.S. Navy. In exchange, the oilmen paid off senior government officials, bribed newspaper publishers, and covered the GOP campaign debt. When news of the scandal finally emerged, the consequences were disastrous for the nation and for the principles in the plot to bilk the taxpayers: Harding's administration was hamstrung; Americans' confidence in their government plummeted; Secretary of the Interior Albert Fall was indicted, convicted, and incarcerated; and others implicated in the affair suffered similarly dire fates. Stonewalling by members of Harding's circle kept a lid on the story--witnesses developed "faulty" memories or fled the country, and important documents went missing--but contemporary records newly made available to McCartney reveal a shocking, revelatory picture of just how far-reaching the affair was, how high the stakes, and how powerful the conspirators.--From publisher description.… (more)
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Showing 1-5 of 8 (next | show all)
The Teapot Dome Scandal, by Laton McCartney, details the involvement of President Harding's Cabinet with shady business deals on oil leases on public lands. The author provides thorough investigation as to who's-who in the scandal, although it's perhaps overly detailed in many areas. The book concludes with the ultimate trials of the major figures involved. ( )
  rsutto22 | Jul 15, 2021 |
A century ago, a few oilmen put cash into a presidential race and a scandal was born. Parallels to super-PACs are obvious but McCartney treats this as a period piece. Either way it's quite a yarn.
  rynk | Jul 11, 2021 |
High marks for readability. This history book reads like a novel. It's a tale of intrigue and corruption that perhaps helps to understand where some of today's activities arose. In a scandal that erupted, where the perps ripped off the US government for millions, and their own shareholders for more millions, no one went to jail, except a couple of short stays for contempt of court and contempt of Congress. Even after the Supreme Court reclaimed the Teapot leases because of the illegal way in which they were obtained, it was difficult to get juries to convict. There were a number of deaths and disappearances throughout, some attributable to suicide, some to accident, others unsolved. This book is a play-by-play of the process that got Warren Harding elected against the odds, and led to a further entrenching of the idea that the rich are immune from the consequences of their actions. A corrective for anyone who thinks this is a new force in American politics, and also an interesting look inside partisan politics of the early 20th century. ( )
  Devil_llama | Dec 9, 2012 |
Rating: 4.5* of five

The Book Report: Big Oil bought the election of 1920 for Sen. Warren G. Harding of Ohio, because he was amenable to giving away huge amounts of money to the oil companies, including using American power in Mexico to undo the Mexican nationalization of the oil companies' assets there. Part of the payoff to the oil interests was assigning leases worth about $100 million (in 1920 dollars...well north of a billion now) in the US Navy's strategic petroleum reserve in several locations.

Including Teapot Dome, Wyoming.

It all unraveled, the leases were voided, and thanks to a crusading Montana populist Sen. Tom Walsh, several really rich and really corrupt men spent some token time in jail.

Despite his proven knowledge of the transactions, Harding's vice-president was re-elected in 1924 (Harding died in 1923, some suspect at Mrs. Harding's hand, so he would never have to testify before the Walsh Committee).

Oh for the good old days.

My Review: This book was published in 2008, an election year. I do not think this was an accident. The GOP, a sink of depravity and greed since the Taft Administration, did not need any help losing that election...the fact that the sitting vice-president didn't run as the candidate tells you all you need to know there, the GOP knew what was coming and wanted someone else to take the blame for it...but this book, about a conspiracy of evil, greedy GOP pols, their money-men, and the full intent to defraud We-the-People for private wealth, was still well-timed.

Lest any stupid damnfool conservative start mooing about bias, I rush to report that the author does not say the words I've said. The author reports the facts as history has them. The Committee reports, the papers of all parties concerned, all extant documentary evidence, was used in a careful reconstruction of the actual events that led to the Teapot Dome Scandal, as we've come to call it.

The fact that the documentary evidence makes the conservatives look like evil, greedy bastard mo-fos is just a bonus. Embrace the demon within, GOP/Tea Party supporters! Align yourselves with those who think nothing of splashing out millions to buy the votes and influence the course of the river of money that flows from any government into their own pockets, with the minimum of trickle-down into the Public Good.

Do it openly, and in full knowledge of what kind of rotten sleazebags you're supporting...they've never been any different. Read this book and see why. ( )
4 vote richardderus | May 11, 2012 |
Fabulously written, an incredible story. This is an unbelievably complex tale, and I can't still can't believe the author got it all down. But the word repetition and details were, at times, maddening.

If only this book had had a thoughtful and thorough editor, it certainly would have been one of the best books I ever read. ( )
  Eliz12 | Dec 26, 2011 |
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(Author's Note) In the interest of full disclosure, I should mention that my family benefited from some of the ill-gotten gains accumulated from the Teapot Dome affair.
"The Oil King of Oklahoma" came back to the Randal Hotel and flopped down on the bed in room 28 without undressing.
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In The Teapot Dome Scandal, acclaimed author Laton McCartney tells the amazing, complex, and at times ribald story of how Big Oil handpicked Warren G. Harding, an obscure Ohio senator, to serve as our twenty-third president. Harding and his so-called "oil cabinet" made it possible for the oilmen to secure vast oil reserves that had been set aside for use by the U.S. Navy. In exchange, the oilmen paid off senior government officials, bribed newspaper publishers, and covered the GOP campaign debt. When news of the scandal finally emerged, the consequences were disastrous for the nation and for the principles in the plot to bilk the taxpayers: Harding's administration was hamstrung; Americans' confidence in their government plummeted; Secretary of the Interior Albert Fall was indicted, convicted, and incarcerated; and others implicated in the affair suffered similarly dire fates. Stonewalling by members of Harding's circle kept a lid on the story--witnesses developed "faulty" memories or fled the country, and important documents went missing--but contemporary records newly made available to McCartney reveal a shocking, revelatory picture of just how far-reaching the affair was, how high the stakes, and how powerful the conspirators.--From publisher description.

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