In This Review

The Oil and the Glory: The Pursuit of Empire and Fortune on Caspian Sea
The Oil and the Glory: The Pursuit of Empire and Fortune on Caspian Sea
By Steve Levine
Random House, 2007, 496 pp.

Hardly any topic has been more chewed over in recent years than the politics of Caspian Sea oil and gas. But behind the reported head butting of governments, the play-by-play over pipelines, and an endless stream of academic conferences, a bare-knuckle, swashbuckling drama has pitched and rolled, with oilmen vying for a share of these riches. LeVine, a correspondent for The Wall Street Journal, has done due diligence in framing both the historical and the contemporary political settings, but the treat is in the roiling tale of the gambles, bravado, and maneuvering of the dealmakers. James Giffen, the impresario of Kazakhstan's oil surge, now under indictment in U.S. court, plays a central role, but there are many others in the cast. Like a good scenarist, LeVine develops the characters for each segment before proceeding with the plot. For people who liked Michael Douglas in Wall Street, here is an even more subtle and complex movie script.