The Arctic century is upon us. A great jockeying for power and influence has erupted among nations in the high north. At stake are trillions of dollars in profit or loss, US security, geopolitical influence and the fate of a fragile environment as well as the region's traditional people. As the ice melts and oil companies venture north, the polar regions may become the next Panama Canal, the next Arabian Peninsula-places on earth that remain relatively unknown in one century and become pivotal in the next. Now Shell oil plans to sink exploratory wells in the pristine waters off the North Slope of Alaska-a site that the company believes contains three times as much oil as the Gulf of Mexico.
The Eskimo and the Oil Man tells this story through the eyes of two men, one an Iñupiat Eskimo leader on Alaska's North Slope, the other the head of Shell Oil's Alaska venture. Their saga is set against the background of an undersea land rush in the Arctic, with Russian bombers appearing off Alaska's coast, and rapid changes in ice that put millions of sea mammals at risk. The men's decisions will affect the daily lives of all Americans, in their cities and towns and also in their pocketbooks. The story begins as a fight and ends with a surprise.
In the spirit of Thomas L. Friedman's Hot, Flat, and Crowded, best-selling author Bob Reiss traveled in America's High North over three years and spent time with scientists, diplomats, military planners, Eskimo whale hunters and officials at the highest levels of the government. He traveled to remote villages and sailed on a US icebreaker. The Eskimo and the Oil Man reflects the issues dividing every American community wrestling with the balance between energy use and environmental protection, our love of cheap gas and the romance of pristine wilderness.
"Despite the slightly deceptive title, Reiss offers a nuanced evaluation of the necessity of offshore drilling and ecological preservation. Tracing almost a year in the lives of Edward Itta, the Eskimo mayor of the North Slope of Alaska, and Pete Slaiby, a powerful Shell executive, the engrossing narrative depicts the struggle to reach a drilling decision that will benefit Shell while protecting the native Iñupiat community's way of life." (Publisher's Weekly)
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I live here. This is REAL.
I would recommend this book to anyone who wants a well-balanced view of the problems we face in the North.
Bob Reiss presents a well-researched book detailing what Alaska and the United States will be facing in the near future.
Living in interior Alaska for over 35 years, we have a fairly narrow view of the Northern lands. This book opened our eyes to the importance of our state in the near and far future ... politically, militarily and more. For Alaskans, this is scary.
Bob Reiss presents the reader with both sides of a dilemma that has no perfect solution, though both sides, the elder native Alaskans and the oil companies, are working to do their best. The natives need the oil revenues desperately. Prudhoe Bay oil is drying up. The oil companies need a new, rich domestic source of oil. The solution lies beneath the shelf ice which is now melting north of the North Slope. The problem? The most promising oil fields are in the waters used by the natives for over 4000 years for their traditional whale hunts. Most people outside of Alaska (or Outside, as we call it up here) do not realize the importance of the whale hunts to the native existence. This book explains that, and more. It also gives a fantastic, detailed history of ice and all the different types of ice. Even the government goes to our natives to learn about ice. No one knows more. The Eskimo and the Oil Man explains what is resulting from climate change. I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested in our nation's future. It lies in the North.
- June A. Cook
Very interesting but just too long for 5 stars