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The Oil and the Glory: The Pursuit of Empire and Fortune on the Caspian Sea
by Steve Levine
Remote, forbidding, and volatile, the Caspian Sea long tantalized the world with its vast oil reserves. But outsiders, blocked by the closed Soviet system, couldn’t get to it. Then the Soviet Union collapsed, and a wholesale rush into the region erupted. Along with oilmen, representatives of the world’s leading nations flocked to the Caspian for a share of the thirty billi ...more
Hardcover, 496 pages
Published October 23rd 2007 by Random House
(first published 2007)
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I saw this author speak a few years ago and have had his book sitting on my shelf since then. The book tackles a really interesting topic ... the attempts that oil companies made over several decades to cultivate relationships with political leaders in the Soviet and, later, former Soviet republics bordering the Caspian Sea. I was really captivated by the author's talk and wasn't disappointed in the book at all and wavered as to whether to give it a three- or four-star rating.
The narrative was s ...more
The narrative was s ...more
Aug 22, 2010 Pbwritr rated it 5 of 5 stars · review of another edition
What a fantastic book! I will probably only remember about 5 percent of what I read, it is so chock-ful of people, events, negotiations, etc. The subtitle following the book is :The Pursuit of Empire and Fortune on the Caspian Sea. I had no idea until this book that the Caspian Sea was the site of so much oil, riches, scrabbles for power, nor that the U.S. and the USSR were engaged in mutual developments even during the Cold War. Nor did I know that so much of the oil industry there is politiciz ...more
It's a really comprehensive history of petroleum in the Black Sea region. I thought the first half of the book was more interesting than the second. It's unfortunate the topic was too large to place within a more geopolitical dimension, but this book was thick enough the way it was. I think Levine is a good writer, but he doesn't have a talent with words when writing history. I find that most journalists-turned-authors don't know how to make history come alive like the Barbara Tuchman's or John ...more
My favorite book in the goal I set for the reading challenge this year. At times Levine's character development was tedious, but overall, the depth of detail for the deals structured in the Caspian fields was very engaging and eventually the character development made the plot very dramatic. Levine adequately covered the breadth of topics associated with deals in a non-market environment: politics, war, class and ethnic conflict, greed, ethics, negotiation, border disputes, terrorism. What was m ...more
Exhaustive history of the oil industry in the Caspian region. The author focuses on the period between 1980 and 1995 when the region really opened up to foreign investment. There a lot of players involved over long periods of negotiation , but the author includes a time line to help the reader keep things straight. The lengths to which the companies involved went to close the deals made me realize how large the stakes in oil exploration are.
Good for the information, but it felt like it would never end and that I was reading the same vignette over and over again. Maybe that was the point. The history of the region at the beginning was cool, but the book dwelt paid more attention to and spent longer discussing the Clinton Administration's Central Asian oil policies than the Clinton Administration did.
I learned a ton about the Caspian region and oil. It hit topics I knew nothing about: The Nobel Brothers, a gusher that shot 100 feet high and ran for 3 months, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Jim Giffen and other international "dealmakers", U.S.-Soviet power politics over oil. A bit of a slog, but full of the "wild west" nature of oil exploration.
Steve Levine does a great job unwinding the complicated history of oil and gas developments in the Caspian Sea region from the mid-19th century to 2007. Oh, the bastards who cleaned up at these ventures. Definitely recommended reading for all Eurasian studies or energy industry geeks. I really enjoy Levine's journalistic writing style.
Nov 24, 2007 Sunlita rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Anyone
Well, I don't know much about 'oil' or 'mining' things, but.. this book is written in an excellent 'package' that also entertain its readers. I haven't bought it yet, I'll check if I have some extra-money to do it or not. ^^