​Kelanic, Rosemary A. (2020) Black Gold and Blackmail: Oil and Great Power Politics. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press. 234 pp.

​ISBN: 978-1-5017-4829-5

Lala Muradova

University of Leuven (Belgium)

Read more about this book: www.cornellpress.cornell.edu

​This book provides an innovative account of how fears of oil coercion shape international politics. It argues that the great powers apply costly and risky policies – 'anticipatory strategies' – to prevent potential threats from hostile oil exporters. Two factors are decisive: the degree of susceptibility of its oil imports to deliberate cutoff (threat to imports) and the difference between a state's domestic oil resources and its consumption requirements (petroleum deficit). The combination of these factors, the argument goes, shapes the degree to which a great power is vulnerable to oil coercion and the type of anticipatory strategy it applies. Kelanic differentiates between three types of strategies, which vary along their costliness: self-sufficiency (e.g. oil stockpiling), indirect control (e.g. alliance with oil states) and direct control (e.g. annex oil states). Black Gold tests its thesis with carefully crafted and nuanced in-depth cases (11 full and 2 baseline vignettes) from four different countries (Germany, Great Britain, US and Japan). Via these cases, Kelanic takes the reader on a historical tour from Britain's conquest of Mesopotamia to oil strategies of Nazi Germany, US efforts to prevent oil during World War I, World War II and the Cold War and all the way to Japan’s surrender in World War II. Case studies are skillfully complemented by a qualitative comparative analysis (QCA) that aims at increasing the broad generalizability of the theory. Overall, Black Gold is theoretically innovative and empirically rich. It is a great gift for those who are interested in the intricacies of international politics of oil. The book will also prove highly useful for understanding the future anticipatory strategies of China – an emerging superpower.