PETROLEUM: i Royal Dutch Knight

Like Mark Twain, Sir Henri Deterding once read a report of his death. Unlike Mark Twain, Sir Henri was shocked—not by the report but by the meagreness of his obituary notices, the fact that he was confused with an obscure brother. That was in 1924, and since then Sir Henri has had plenty of publicity, some of it furnished by himself, some by critics who called him "the most powerful man in the world."

Scheming, ambitious third son of a Dutch sailor, Hendrik August Wilhelm Deterding quit his job in an Amsterdam...