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The Future History of the Arctic, By Charles Emmerson

Political hot spot with its name in Northern Lights

The Arctic has long been considered a timeless place, existing apart from human civilisation. But, as Charles Emmerson argues in this ambitious study, it is set to assume an increasingly central role in world affairs, as countries tussle over the untapped oil and gas reserves beneath the ice.

Emmerson gives us a sense of the region's past as well as its uncertain political and environmental future, documenting the history of polar exploration and examining the rise of Russia, the US and Canada as Arctic powers. An expert on geopolitics, he writes with insight and authority, but the book would have benefited from ruthless editing – there are times when the thread of his argument is lost amid reams of extraneous detail.