Wildcatters

Roger M. Olien

In the 1970s and 1980s the Texas wildcatter was a recognizable figure in popular culture. Since then, the wildcatter’s role is less celebrated but still important, as shown in the new introduction to this edition of a book originally published in 1984 by Texas Monthly Press. Drawing heavily on oral histories, this book tells the story of the West Texas independents as a group, looking at their business strategies in the context of their national, regional, and local conditions. The focus is on the Permian Basin and southeastern New Mexico over the sixty-year period in which the region rose to prominence on the American oil scene, producing about one-fifth of the nation’s output. It is a story that covers vast technological change, governmental regulation, and economic fluctuation with profound implications for the oil and gas community. The new introduction brings the story up-to-date by addressing not only the subsequent careers of the wildcatters described in the book but also the role of independents in the current economy.

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