This tour de force pursues two basic lines of narrative: a more intimate story in an Illinois gas station, where its workers struggle and customers complain as gas prices climb. A larger narrative is international. Salopek managed to get access to records that allowed him to trace the sources of a particular shipment of gasoline. He then visits a few of those places to show readers the “trouble” their driving is linked to.

The piece is similar in approach to The Oregonian’s Pulitzer-winning “The French Fry Connection.” But in that case the trail goes forward in time: Richard Read follows a shipment of Idaho potatoes around the world to a McDonald’s in Singapore.

At the time this story was posted on the Digest, Salopek had gone on to another assignment for National Geographic in Sudan. He’d been arrested there on charges of espionage and was awaiting trial.

Read “A Tank of Gas, a World of Trouble,” by Paul Salopek

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