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Max Thornburg was very involved with the Middle East and helped create some of what the world is having to deal with now. You can't think of those countries without thinking of oil and turmoil. Max Thornburg was involved in both.
Max Weston Thornburg (October 10, 1892 – September 21, 1962) was an American petroleum executive and government adviser. He was a petroleum adviser to the United States Department of State and a senior oil executive for the Standard Oil of California (SOCAL) and California-Texas Oil Company, Ltd. (Caltex) in the Middle East including Bahrain and Iran. He was a special assistant to the Undersecretary of State from 1941 to 1943 during World War II.To read an in-depth article about Max Thornburg read The Catalyst of Nationalization: Max Thornburg and the Failure of Private Sector Developmentalism in Iran, 1947-1951 by Linda Wills Qaimmaqami. It's quite interesting to read in light of where we are today so it's worth downloading.
Thornburg was born in Long Beach, California to Eva Louise (née Holbrook) and Charles Hix Thornburg. He married Leila Baldwin Berry on March 30, 1918 in Lynchburg, Virginia. Leila's father, Rufus Albert Berry, was in the real estate business and also the postmaster in Berkeley, California.
Thornburg received a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of California, Berkeley in 1917, and then a Bachelor of Science (1921), and a degree in chemical engineering (1933), both from UC Berkeley. He also did post-graduate work at the University of Grenoble in 1919. He served in the United States Army from 1917 to 1920, stationed at Camp Lewis, Washington, and in France. He was discharged with the rank of captain.
In June 1936 the Standard Oil Company of California (SOCAL; later Chevron) and the Texas Corporation (Texaco) formed a new entity called California-Texas Oil Company, Ltd. (CALTEX), to market and distribute the crude oil produced by SOCAL east of the Suez Canal and the refined products produced at their new refinery being built on Bahrain Island. Thornburg was named a vice-president of the new entity, CALTEX. James Andrew Moffett, II., was named the chairman, as well as a director, and Howard M. Herron was president.
In the 1930s, the ruler of Bahrain gave the island of Umm as Sabaan as a gift to Thornburg. Later he was a vice president of Bahrain Petroleum Co., Ltd (BAPCO).
Thornburg was named as a "special consultant on international petroleum matters," by Secretary of State Cordell Hull, in August 1941, to serve under Harold L. Ickes, Secretary of the Interior and defense oil coordinator. Thornburg was to keep Ickes informed of the international aspects and problems of petroleum, which was crucial to the war effort both overseas and domestically to keep supplies flowing.
Thornburg died in Santa Monica, California at age 69. He was survived by his wife, Leila (née Berry) Thornburg (September 21, 1893 – October 13, 1969. They had three children, Roann (1919-1983), Priscilla (1922-1988), and Russell (1927-1989). (SOURCE: Wikipedia)
Searching for photos of Max Thornburg brought up only one shot of him with his wife and children. Sadly the link to the actual photo seemed to be dead. However, I did find this video from the July 9, 1951 CBS episode of the Longines Chronoscope show. Max Thornburg is introduced as "the war time petroleum advisor to the Department of State and expert on middle eastern affairs." It's fascinating.