Thunder in the Earth

By Edwin Lanbam
‘THIS here oil is a curse. I tell you, Cobb, it’s a curse. When it comes so a man can’t keep his eyes on his plow and goes hog-wild and forgets that good land is for farming, then it sure is a curse.’ ‘You put your finger on it there, Dad. It’s a curse on the men that go after it because of the way they do it. Oil ain’t evil, but I guess men are. I guess I was.’ These two sentences from near the end of the novel are really the novel itself in little. Cobb Walters, a country boy, strikes oil in Texas. Easy wealth turns his head. Dreaming of becoming a great oil magnate, he imitates all the vices of the newly rich, goes from bad to worse, and is finally involved in ruin and tried for murder. It is an exciting story, full of the drama of a boom town, and a very vivid picture of a deplorable episode in American life. Cobb is about as wrong-headed a hero as one could imagine, and yet is understandable and likable. There is a good deal about the history and economics of oil and about the technique of boring, piping, marketing, speculating, all of which will appeal to men. It is, in fact, a man’s book.