The current report is the analysis of the core themes of the book The Oil and the Glory: The Pursuit of Empire and Fortune on the Caspian Sea written by Steve LeVine against the background of the “Great Game”. This book is of great value taking into consideration the experience of the author. The Oil and the Glory is the discussion of the situation on the Caspian Sea territory with a view to the development of oil fields and their value.
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The territory of Central Asia has been one of the most disputable issues and the source of prosperity of different Russian companies. Did the rich oil businessmen represent Russian Federation or the countries of the former Soviet Union only? The answer is yes, taking into consideration the book The Oil and the Glory: The Pursuit of Empire and Fortune on the Caspian Sea written by Steve LeVine.
Thus, it is necessary to tell a few words about the author of the story and his experience of journalist. Steve LeVine has worked as a journalist in a number of periodicals in the United States of America. Due to his profession he travelled a lot and saw a great number of different countries, each having its unique history. Furthermore, Steve LeVine worked on the territory of former Soviet Union and Central Asia.
As an experienced journalist, the author of the book The Oil and the Glory: The Pursuit of Empire and Fortune on the Caspian Sea decided to analyze the history of the Caspian Sea territory and the oil aspect respectively. The book represents not just a chronicle of this territory and people. This work is the result of the research and observations.
Thereby, the book introduces the political, economic and social situation of the countries described in the story. The Oil and the Glory also discusses some additional characters that made their contribution to the economic situation, relations between countries and the interrelations of the global companies interested in the development of oil fields on the Caspian Sea territory.
The core themes of the book
The main problems of the Caspian region and the oil development situation discussed in the book are raised in order to introduce the contradictions and the implicit conflict between the East and the West worlds. These conflicts root deep into the history, the “Great Game” was one of the first large-scale ‘battles’ for the Caspian Sea territory. Oil and the development of oil fields is the main topic of the book; all the characters and events are included to discuss the problem from different points of view and analyze all possible variants of succession of events.
What are the reasons for oil aspect discussion? Did the author want to show the readers, how clever he is? Did the author of The Oil and the Glory wanted to show his political-economic-history knowledge? The history of the Central Asia can be found in the online sources. What do we need this book for? Why do we have to read another oil-history discussion?
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The answer can be found in the very beginning of the book. The Oil and the Glory: The Pursuit of Empire and Fortune on the Caspian Sea represents the evaluation of effectiveness of the development of oil fields, the interrelations between countries interested in oil development, the long lasting conflicts and disputes between the largest countries of the world. The largest conflicts in the world concern the oil fields; consequently, the “Great Game” was not an exception, but rather a rule. The leaders of these countries know what they struggle for.
Oil is one of the most powerful engines of the wealth and negotiations. The petroleum exporting countries are interested in the cooperation with the countries who own some oil fields that can be developed. The necessity of cooperation lies in the modern world situation. It is impossible to attack some country only if it has some minerals to explore and develop.
On the other hand, all the readers are sure to remember a certain conflict related to the oil issue. Do not you remember? What about the war in Iraq? The United States of America attacked the country that had developed oil fields. In this case the most important thing was that the aggressive part (USA) made an attempt to draw a veil over the war. This phenomenon was represented to the world community as the fight with terrorism.
After some research a question rises: Why the terrorism represents such a threat for American population and government and is not treated like this in any other country of the world? Consequently, the readers can make a conclusion about the reasons for discussing the oil aspect: oil can lead to wars; oil is the source of fortune; oil is the integral part of the global economic relations. The oil was considered one of the disputable issues in the relationships between Russian and British Empires.
Thereby, the oil aspect is the main theme discussed in the book by Steve LeVine. The territory is described as the source of oil, as “Experts speculated that the region was on top of a seventy-million-year-old residue of dead microorganisms”.1 The description of the rich-in-oil territory evolves from the beginning of the book where the author mentions the city of Baku and describes it as the frontier settlement: “In the early nineteenth century, Baku was a frontier settlement with the air of a medieval duchy”.2
The description of the oil fields is combined with the analysis of the interrelations between the countries of the former Soviet Union and the West. The Oil and the Glory: The Pursuit of Empire and Fortune on the Caspian Sea gives the reader a full notion of the situation with the oil fields and the attempts of Moscow to monopolize the development of the Caspian oil fields. The “Great Game” in this respect can be considered nothing but an ordinary confrontation which took place in the imperialistic era.
The book by Steve LeVine represents a number of vividly described characters that made their contribution into the development of oil fields on the Caspian Sea territory. All the characters had a specific interest in this oil. Some were middlemen; the whole chapter of the book discusses one American middleman who acted in order to establish business relations between the petroleum companies of America and Great Britain and the Soviet Union leaders.
The story tells about struggle for oil, for permission to start drilling and the pressure experienced by all parties of the conflict. This very conflict started in the nineteenth century when the two great countries, Britain and Russia, entered the so-called “Great Game”. This pursuit of oil fields affected greatly the territory of Central Asia. This locality was disputable because of the fatal neighborhood of two superpowers.
The region of central Asia was the center of struggle for more influence between Britain and Russia in the nineteenth century because the territory of the modern India was the colony of British Empire which bordered upon Russia. The influence of Russia on Central Asia is indisputable even taking into consideration the present time. Russia considered itself a monopolist of developing the oil fields of Baku; “In the first year after the 1941 invasion Baku produced an astonishing 125 million barrels of oil crucial in mustering the Soviet defense”.3
The competition between two superpowers in the nineteenth century caused the same competition in the twentieth one. The only reason is that the first competition took place between two empires, Russian and British. Nowadays the situation has changed, but not cardinally. Thus, the current competition includes Russia and the United States of America.
Russia tries to secure its neighbors from the influence of the West in order to protect itself, whereas the United States permanently make attempts of invasions into the territories of the former Soviet Union and its backyards. This competition is argued by the author of the book The Oil and the Glory: The Pursuit of Empire and Fortune on the Caspian Sea, he introduced a fresh look on the unfair competition; though, where did you see the fair one.
Steve LeVine questions the genuine interest of the United States of America and the attempts of spreading democratic concepts throughout the world. Does Washington really want to cooperate with the Central Asia petroleum companies? The book represents some ideas about the genuine reasons of the “color revolutions” in the countries neighboring to Russia, Georgia and Ukraine. The revolutions were supported by the United States in order to wreck the Russian economy.
The “Great Game”
One more reason for demonstrations in Georgia is the Russian military troops invasion of the territory of Afghanistan; “Large and unruly pro-independence demonstrations erupted in neighboring Georgia just to the South of Chechnya protests in which troops killed twenty people”.4 The United States of America provoked and sponsored the revolutions in order to weaken the political and economic position of Russia.
The Oil and the Glory: The Pursuit of Empire and Fortune on the Caspian Sea also shows the practice of bribing the leaders, officials and authorities in order to reach success in getting permission to start drilling within the oil fields of the Central Asia. The former Soviet republics which gained their independent with sufficient political and economic help of the United States now are corrupted throughout the hierarchy of the governing powers.
The book written by Steve LeVine is an excellent example of the history of the countries related to the Caspian Sea and the development of oil fields. The author demonstrates importance of oil and oil deposits for the countries of the world, the largest petroleum exporters and the countries neighboring with Russia and involved into the struggle between superpowers.
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The book The Oil and the Glory: The Pursuit of Empire and Fortune on the Caspian Sea written by Steve LeVine represents a kind of chronology of development of oil fields on the territory of the Caspian Sea. The first developments took place near Baku, now the largest petroleum exporting countries tend to participate in the international projects of developing the Caspian oil deposits. The Caspian Basin of oil is one of the largest in the world; consequently, it involves an enormous struggle and competitions.
There are no filthy methods in this “great game” for influence in Central Asia and the world petroleum market. Thus, the book by LeVine explains all methods and pitfalls of the global competition for oil in the Caspian Basin. The Caspian region seems to be extremely attractive for the multinational affair from the point of view of the oil deposits and the perspectives of wealth.
LeVine, Steve. The Oil and the Glory: The Pursuit of Empire and Fortune on the Caspian Sea. New York: Random House, 2007.
1 Steve LeVine, The Oil and the Glory: The Pursuit of Empire and Fortune on the Caspian Sea (New York: Random House, 2007), 4.
2 LeVine, 3.
3 LeVine, 47.
4 LeVine, 145.