In The Oil and the Glory: The Pursuit of Empire and Fortune on the Caspian Sea, veteran journalist Steve LeVine writes about the high-stakes political gamesmanship over control of the rich oil resources in that region.
Caspian deposits "earned an early, almost mythic reputation," he reports. "Marco Polo's was perhaps the first written account. He reported a gusher that in a single hour produced 'a quantity of oil sufficient to load up one hundred vessels.'"
In modern times, the region's rich petroleum reserves have been the object of schemes involving generations of Western industrialists, the governments of emerging democracies in the former Soviet Union, and various U.S. administrations.
Steve LeVine has been a foreign correspondent for 18 years, writing for The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, and The Washington Post from posts in Pakistan, the Philippines and the Soviet Union. He blogs at OilandGlory.com.