When Daniel Yergin published his Prize: The Epic Quest for Oil, Money and Power in 1992, the general remark that welcomed it is that it is a must read for all educated persons. That is to suggest that anyone who has not read it only has certificate(s) but not education. Yergin’s details of the good as well as the evil things oil has brought about in world politics is why people connect reading the book with being educated.
But it was shortly after the publication of the book that Samuel Huntington also published his “The Clash of Civilisations?” and that took the centre stage as it became the subject matter across the world between those who adore it and those who called it The Clash of Ignorance.
Yergin’s Prize: The Epic Quest for Oil, Money and Power might have been overshadowed first by Francis Fukuyama’s “End of History” which preceded it and later by Huntington’s Clash of Civilisation but it has remained the definitive text about oil in global energy politics. That is along with its sequel, The Quest: Energy, Security and the Remaking of the Modern World, all two making him the ultimate oracle in that field, irrespective of the neoliberal analytic tendency that grounds the totality of his works as a scholar and a practitioner.
Now, Yergin is back but this time, with The New Map: Energy, Climate and the Clash of Nations. This is still very new in the market and no general consensus exists yet in informed circles about it. It is though sure to follow the realist account of the world – the idea that there are realities that underpin how the world works and the way Realists take this as nearly absolute.
So, potential readers will find a lot of emphasis on how powerful actors such as individuals and nations are enacting the world in relation to the climate change and oil. Realists have little patience with small actors. Everything is about big and important doers. In the end though, they are hardly doing more than powerfully visualising the world.
But the challenge of reading a Yergin book on global energy politics is that the meaning of the book would still depend on the reader. In that sense, this is likely to be the number One book in the world today for everyone, from students of energy to politicians, investors, presidents, prime ministers, sundry technocrats, small and big producer nations amongst so many others.