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The New Great Game: Blood and Oil in Central Asia Hardcover – September, 2003


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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Conventional thinking on a possible confrontation between the U.S. and China assumes that the geography of conflict will be off of China's coast over the Taiwan issue or as competition for the Spratly Islands heats up. In his first book, veteran war correspondent Kleveman makes the intriguing argument that the challenge to U.S. primacy will in fact take place to the west of China's hinterland province Xingjiang over the resources of the energy-rich Caspian Sea and the surrounding Central Asian republics. The central thesis, that the U.S., China, Russia and Iran are now engaged in a New Great Game, a power struggle for control of the region's vast oil and gas reserves, is thinly woven through the narrative in what is largely a war zone travel diary. Kleveman, who readily admits his conviction that the recent war in Iraq was motivated by the interests of Houston oilmen, similarly treats the war on terrorism as little more than a pretext for the presence of U.S. troops in the region to secure oil interests and pipeline routes. Thus, the book gives the impression that Kleveman has selectively presented interviews with oil ministers and locals that lend his argument the most weight, while giving short shrift to those with opposing views. The work draws attention to a little understood and increasingly important part of the world where oil, Islam and terrorism converge to create havoc, but in the end, Kleveman fails to show that competition and not cooperation will mark the development of the region's resources.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Review

"A timely and daring book to remind us that the Great Game is alive and well in the 21st century." -- Jason Elliot, author of An Unexpected Light: Travels in Afghanistan

"A well-argued, well-observed journey into a little-known area likely to be of much importance in days to come." -- Kirkus Reviews

"An urgent, vigorous insight into a vital issue of the new century. Undertaken with clear sight and bulldog energy." -- Colin Thubron, Author of The Lost Heart of Asia

"Kleveman's odyssey…reveals that this conflict is just one front in a global oil war." -- Jonathan Kaplan, author of The Dressing Station

"Part reportage part essay, written with journalistic wit….A book that will provide us with ideas and analysis for some years." -- Riccardo Orizio
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Atlantic Monthly Press; 1 edition (September 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0871139065
  • ISBN-13: 978-0871139061
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.3 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,975,294 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

24 of 24 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 7, 2003
Format: Hardcover
One may agree or disagree with the political arguments Lutz Kleveman makes about U.S. energy imperialism in Central Asia, but his evidence is certainly startling and compelling. This makes the book very timely, especially in light of another oil war being in full swing in Iraq, and it should be part of the public discourse.
But what I really loved about The New Great Game is the amazing journey the author took me on! He actually traveled to all the countries he writes about, often risking his neck, from Chechnya to Afghanistan. This is first-hand reporting at its best, really allowing the reader to see, hear, smell, and feel the places and people Kleveman encounters - be they warlords or oil tycoons. Some of them I will not forget in a long time. And all the while Kleveman keeps his sharp eye and clear mind for who and what is important for the oil story.
I seriously and whole-heartedly recommend this wonderful book!
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By doomsdayer520 HALL OF FAME on January 5, 2006
Format: Paperback
The Central Asia region, symbolically centered on the vast raw material resources in and around the Caspian Sea, was the subject of the "Great Game" struggle of colonial times, during which Russia and England spent generations trying to extend their influence into this mysterious, inaccessible, and often lawless region. In recent years, Central Asia has again been thrown into a battle among far greater powers, due to the international drive for new supplies of fossil fuels and the war against terrorism. The United States has taken England's place in machinations with the Russians, while the emerging regional powers of Iran and China are becoming involved, with everyone trying to extend their political influence in the region and to secure energy supplies. In this book Lutz Kleveman utilizes the historical concept of a "New Great Game" to describe how Central Asia is again looming large in the world's strategic geopolitics (and petropolitics). Kleveman's conceptions of a "New Great Game" are reasonably effective, but this background argument operates only as a rather thin shell around a travel diary and short-term war reporting.

Kleveman definitely traveled to many intriguing and downright dangerous locations while researching the book. He met with opposition leaders in Afghanistan and Pakistan, dictators and demagogues in the former Central Asian Soviet Republics (including the bizarre personality cult in Turkmenistan and the shamefully overlooked human rights violators of U.S. ally Uzbekistan), and oil company plutocrats in Azerbaijan and Russia. Kleveman also took very intriguing forays into the not-so-axis-of-evil stability of Iran, and the obscure Uighur lands of Western China.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 18, 2003
Format: Hardcover
This is one of the most brilliant books I have read in years!
Ever feel that the Bush administration's is hijacking the War on Terror to pursue U.S. oil interests in Iraq and Central Asia? Well, the journalist Lutz Kleveman traveled to the frontlines and oil fields to find out. What he discovered on his fascinating journeys from the Caucasus all the way down to Afghanistan is eye-opening..
And what an adventure tale this book is, too! The author beautifully weaves his bold political analysis into gripping travel writing. His encounters with the power players in the region, be they Russian oil bosses or Afghan warlords, make for a great read. I enjoyed every page of it!
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19 of 22 people found the following review helpful By P. Eastwood on September 20, 2004
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The book is interesting. The trouble is, the author appears to be a bit gullible for a seasoned journalist. I work in the Caspian oil industry. Some of the items the author presents as 'fact' are just plain wrong. He tells one story about the offshore life of a driller, "Thomas", whom he met in a bar in Baku. It is obvious to me that some drunken rig-hand was spinning him a line, and Kleveman swallowed it. Similarly, he gets the facts wrong about the Iranian gunboat incident; it involved a seismic vessel, not a rig. It makes a huge difference.

Knowing that he got wrong some simple facts that it would have been very easy to check, I have to question the rest of the book. What else is he stating as fact with little or no verification?

Also, the author's opinion and agenda are apparent. The book is not objective. If you bear these points in mind the book can allow some insight into, say, why the Russians are so adamant to hang on to Chechnya, etc. But, as another reviewer said, you can get the same information by reading the newspaper; probably with a broader scope and less bias.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By doesitmatter on August 31, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Over the past couple of years I have become increasingly interested in learning about where the things we take for granted in a consumer society come from. Beyond every label (Or non-label in the case of gas/oil - why not?) of "Made in XXXX" is a story I want to know more about. This has been one of my travel themes during my recent world travels over the last 2 years around the world where I was on the road for more than 1 year - most recently 7 months straight.

One of the things I've learned more about is the oil and gas industry. From visiting the reasons for our oil dependency as shown at the Petersen Auto Museum in LA, which chronicles the rise of the automobile and visiting the largest Toyota (Camry) plant in the US in Kentucky. Continuing to where oil is sourced by crisscrossing Texas, visiting Spindletop (Where oil was first found in Texas) and the refineries of East Texas, exploring natural gas rich Qatar, visiting the wealth of the UAE, or seeing the price of cheap oil in Jakarta, Indonesia I feel I am a little more informed than most.

Since returning home I watched the entire 4 VHS set of the Prize by Daniel Yergin which covers the entire modern oil industry (1850s-present). As I was at the library looking for other books on resources I came across the New Great Game.

Once I started, I could not let it down.

Mr. Kleveman engages the reader immediately. He talks with so many influential people and visits every country in the region that one can't but help realize that he knows his stuff. All of these countries (Mostly the Stans of Central Asia) are well off the travel map for tourists. His first hand on the ground research is of much value and illuminates the players and the intricacies of the area from both a historical and oil standpoint.
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