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SLCL’s Westfall Series Presents Pulitzer Prize-Winning Journalist Steve Coll

Press Release

Monday, May 20, 2013 - 10:00a.m.


The St. Louis County Library Foundation’s ‘Buzz’ Westfall Favorite Author Series is pleased to present Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and bestselling non-fiction author Steve Coll for a discussion and signing of his book “Private Empire: ExxonMobile and American Power.” The event will take place at Library Headquarters (1640 S. Lindbergh Blvd.) on Monday, June 3, at 7:00 p.m. The program is free and open to the public. Books will be available for purchase at the event from Left Bank Books.

Winner of the Financial Times and Goldman Sachs Business Book of the Year Award for 2012, “Private Empire” is an extraordinary and monumental exposé of Big Oil from two-time Pulitzer Prize winner Steve Coll. Coll investigates the most powerful private corporation in the United States, revealing the true extent of its power. ExxonMobil’s annual revenues are larger than the economic activity in most countries. Around the world, ExxonMobil’s sway over politics is greater than that of the US embassy. In Washington, ExxonMobil spends more money lobbying than almost any other corporation. Yet despite its outsized influence, it is a black box.

“Private Empire” pulls back the curtain, beginning with the Exxon Valdez accident in 1989 and leading to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010. The action spans the globe in heart-stopping scenes that feature kidnapping cases, civil wars, and high-stakes struggles at the Kremlin. At home, Coll goes inside ExxonMobil’s headquarters, where top executives in the “God Pod” (as employees call it) oversee a corporate culture of discipline and secrecy. A penetrating, newsbreaking study, “Private Empire” is a defining portrait of ExxonMobil and the place of Big Oil in American politics and foreign policy. 

Steve Coll, winner of a 2005 Pulitzer Prize for “Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan, and Bin Laden” and a 1990 Pulitzer for journalism, is a contributor at The New Yorker magazine. Previously he spent 20 years as a foreign correspondent and senior editor at The Washington Post. He is the author of seven books, including the New York Times bestseller “The Bin Ladens: An Arabian Family in the American Century.”

The program with Steve Coll is a St. Louis County Library ‘Buzz’ Westfall Favorite Author Series presentation. The Westfall series features authors of politics, current issues, history, and sports. The series is co-sponsored by Jack Dubinsky and Sons; McMahon Berger; Sachs Properties; Brown Smith Wallace LLC; Royal Banks of Missouri; St. Louis Business Journal; Midwest Library Service; The Booksource; Ivey-Selkirk Auctioneers; S.M. Wilson & Co.; Arthur J. Gallagher and Co.; and Stifel, Nicolaus.

Program sites are accessible. Upon two weeks notice, accommodations will be made for persons with disabilities. Contact St. Louis County Library by phone 314-994-3300 or visit