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Wheel of Fortune: The Battle for Oil and Power in Russia Hardcover – November 6, 2012
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Thane Gustafson has seen close up the wrenching challenges in the Russian oil industry. This is an excellent book written from firsthand experience. (Lord Browne of Madingley, Group Chief Executive, BP p.l.c., 1995–2007)
Wheel of Fortune not only provides the most comprehensive history of the Russian oil sector to date, but its greatest virtue is that it places the industry's rise in a broader political and historical context that only a deep observer like Thane Gustafson can provide. (Francis Fukuyama, author of The Origins of Political Order)
A tale of the struggle for power and money in the Russian oil industry—with fateful consequence for both Russia and the world. (Andrew Gould, former Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Schlumberger Limited)
For specialists in geopolitics or global energy, this exacting and lucid account should be required reading. (Publishers Weekly 2012-10-08)
Gustafson notes that the Russian oil economy is at a crossroads, with no clear signal ahead. It might well revert to state control, or it might become a free-market leader...A useful, readable primer in a specialized but strategically important corner of geopolitics. (Kirkus Reviews 2012-11-01)
Russian oil has had a bumpy ride. The world leader in the 1980s, the industry went into steep decline with the Soviet Union's dismantling in 1991. When the Iron Curtain rose, the state's oilmen--mostly geologists and engineers--were shocked by a global industry rife with lawyers and traders. Now oil and roubles shunt through the pipelines of new Russia but the relationship between state and industry is often explosive. Energy-policy analyst Thane Gustafson reveals Vladimir Putin's pivotal role, the effects of the 2008 crash, and the complex currents and uncertain future of regional oil. (Nature 2012-11-22)
Few have studied the Russian oil and gas industry longer or with a broader political perspective than Gustafson. The result is this superb book, which is not merely a fascinating, subtle history of the industry since the Soviet Union's collapse but also the single most revealing work on Russian politics and economics published in the last several years. (Robert Legvold Foreign Affairs 2013-01-01)
Gustafson has made an important contribution to the study of Russian capitalism. (Y. Polsky Choice 2013-04-01)
Thane Gustafson's Wheel of Fortune is the fullest account so far of Russian oil in the 1990s and 2000s...Wheel of Fortune is...built on an impressive grasp of the way the Russian oil industry works. But its arguments also have a wider relevance for understanding the country's post-Soviet fortunes...What Wheel of Fortune describes is not so much the displacement of private companies by a state-led model as the creation of a new hybrid form...This blurring of the personnel, motivations and strategic orientations of state and private sectors is the hallmark of contemporary Russian capitalism. No one reading this book could think the Soviet system is simply being re-created under Putin: the most likely outcome of another round of privatizations, it suggests, is a concerted attempt by the state-business elite to turn the companies it controls into private property. (Tony Wood London Review of Books 2013-06-06)
The history of Russia's oil industry since the collapse of communism is the history of the country itself. There can be few better guides to this terrain than Thane Gustafson, a professor of government at Georgetown University who has been studying Russia and global oil for more than three decades. His Wheel of Fortune stands out amid a series of recent books on Russia, combining meticulous research with a storyteller's gift. (Neil Buckley Financial Times 2013-06-01)
Thane Gustafson has produced what will surely be the definitive work on this subject...For the past twenty years Gustafson has shuttled back and forth to Russia, getting to know many of the key players. Having been present at the creation, he is uniquely placed to combine an insider's knowledge of how the industry works with academic analytical skills and a sophisticated understanding of Russian culture and politics. (Peter Rutland Times Literary Supplement 2013-07-14)
A thorough history...of the symbiosis of oil and politics since the unraveling of the Soviet Union. Gustafson masterfully cuts through the confusion of the immediate post-Soviet period to distil a clear narrative about the struggles of the first Russian oil majors and the oligarchs who came to control them; the contributions and failures of international investment in Russia's oil sector; the genesis of energy-attuned leaders; and the evolution of the institutions regulating the sector today. After four decades of studying Soviet/Russian politics and a concurrent two decades of leading IHS CERA's Russian and Caspian energy consulting team, Gustafson has a rare combination of academic understanding and industry acumen, which informs a top-notch analysis of the forces shaping Russia's current economic and political trajectory. The book takes readers through stories of a motley cast of characters: from a handful of obscure Siberian oil generals who inherited control of prize fields, to budding businessmen who rose to become some of the richest in Russia, to public servants for the city of St. Petersburg who came to dominate the country's political machine. Gustafson's research draws on scores of personal interviews with key government and industry players over 20 years. With a keenly observant eye, Gustafson tracks the impact that each of these individuals had on the course of development of the oil industry and its relationship with the political apparatus.
(Catherine Yusupov International Affairs 2013-07-01)
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Top Customer Reviews
The book shows Gustafson's substantial knowledge of the petroleum industry as well Russia itself. His knowledge of the details is so amazing that it prompted me to mention the intelligence community link above. He has a number of anecdotes and personal observations to offer. His perspective is American, not Russian; but I think he did his best to be in the Russian shoes -- which is not easy (believe me, I lived in Russia for 30 years).
To me the book was a breath of fresh air because of its "realist" position. Many Anglo-American authors show Russia's "Petrocracy" as a threat to America's interests. Neoconservative think tanks and other organizations keep harping that Russia is sliding into "despotism" and continue blackening Russia's image by churning up a distorted coverage of critical events and policies. Soon after Khodorkovsky was arrested on charges of multiple fraud and tax evasion back in 2003, numerous publications and articles with titles such as "Russia on Trial" and "The Kremlin's Mafia" appeared to promote the image of Khodorkovsky as a courageous opposition leader acting to challenge "despotic" Kremlin.
I am skeptical about that image. So appears to be Mr.Read more ›
Many of the events Mr. Gustafson is talking about happened when I lived in Russia. However, just like a regular ordinary Russian I experienced these at a 5 foot view.. The book helps the reader rise high above and look at the situation at a 30 thousand foot view. It does so by drawing on relations between laws of economics, politics and culture. Despite providing a great 30 thousand foot view, the book contains plenty of detail and anecdotal information to give the reader a feel for what Russia and ordinary Russians went through in the last twenty years.
There is no Detroit without the Big 3. There is no New York without Wall Street.. What the book makes quite clear is that there is no Russia without oil. (Even more clear than I ever imagined.) Understanding the dynamics of the world oil markets and economic policies of the Soviet and then Russian Govt goes a long way towards explaining the path Russia has taken in the last quarter century and the challenges it is facing today.
Russian policy makers should heed to the advice and lessons presented in the book as they navigate the country through the transition embarked on almost 30 years ago.
Finally, I was quite impressed with some of the Russian sayings and proverbs the author quotes in the book. I did encounter several that I had not heard before, despite being a native Russian speaker.
A wonderful book.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Very thorough and detailed. Moslty about the oil industry and not as much focus on the gas industry. Each chapter can stand on its own as an independent long article. Read morePublished 14 months ago by E.K
The author is an expert in Russian O&G business and Russian economics in general. This makes his story sound comprehensive and professional. Read morePublished 20 months ago by Anton
Very good stuff, helped me to get undestood the actual situation in RussiaPublished 20 months ago by kabocza
Fascinating look at the Russian oil industry. Detailed, well written, well sourced.Published 21 months ago by Law student
Thane masterfully succeeded in uncovering the fundamental drivers of the Russian oil industry and its interdependency with the political complex through a comprehensive and... Read morePublished on March 22, 2014 by O&G executive
The main thesis of this book is that Russia will collapse again. Soon. Unless Russia drills offshore and in the Arctic with Western oil company help. Read morePublished on December 28, 2013 by Alice Friedemann
Yes, I know that Russia has a lot of oil and gas. But this book gives the details and the problems that the Russian energy industry faces. Read morePublished on December 15, 2013 by William A. Thayer
Lots of information and very valuable read for anyone interested in learning about the Russian oil industry. The only concern were that some chapters were a bit dry.Published on April 14, 2013 by John Brenon
The book shows great insights to the development of the oil and gas sector in Russia as well as it pronounced implication for the general development of RussiaPublished on March 22, 2013 by Jens Perregaard