| Conde Nast Portfolio | Novembre 2007 | Andy Young |
The Caspian Sea region’s oil was commercialized in 1886, when Zeynalabdin Tagiyev—known as the Azerbaijani Eunuch Maker—struck a gusher that spewed more crude into the sea than all the world’s functional wells were producing at the time. As LeVine’s engaging account details, the area has since been discovered, plundered, and forgotten time and again. But now, with the opening of the Baku-Ceyhan pipeline in spring 2006, the Caspian may well be the key to our energy independence from the Middle East. A former Wall Street Journal writer, LeVine brings this all alive by introducing us to regional strongmen, American fixers, Western oil-company executives, and shady energy traders who, since the breakup of the Soviet empire, have jostled for Central Asia’s enormous oil prize while Mother Russia looms menacingly in the background. The deft political portrait of this strategic, volatile area makes the book essential reading, but it’s LeVine’s fine writing that makes it a pleasure.