Book Reviews of scientific fields with history and social sciences and considers the book an environmental history. The story begins in Pennsylvania but quickly moves to the oil discoveries in Oklahoma. Frehner splits his narrative into three divisions. The first section explains how early "folk" prospectors used black boxes, witching sticks, or divining rods in attempts to locate oil. At times, these prospectors were successful, but he argues that this success was luck or instinct based on previous successes. These early practitioners became "practical men" who observed that often oil could be found around specific surface formations. Frehner equates these oilmen to wildcatters who did not know why they found oil on hills or along streams, but were frequently accurate when spotting wells. He emphasizes that unlike many resources, oil was hidden deep underground. This circumstance made locating oil more difficult than locating other natural resources, and this fact increased the importance of professional geologists. In the final section, Frehner details the proliferation of academically trained geologists who refined their theories after surveying geological formations, creating statewide geological surveys and collecting data to make observations more reliable and the study of geology more scientific. Frehner's work focuses on
Southwestern Historical Quarterly – Texas State Historical Association
Published: Sep 16, 2012
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