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The Bridge

The Bridge

Natural Gas in a Redivided Europe

Thane Gustafson

ISBN 9780674987951

Publication date: 01/07/2020

A Marginal Revolution Best Book of the Year
Winner of the Shulman Book Prize

A noted expert on Russian energy argues that despite Europe’s geopolitical rivalries, natural gas and deals based on it unite Europe’s nations in mutual self-interest.

Three decades after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the breakup of the Soviet empire, the West faces a new era of East–West tensions. Any vision of a modern Russia integrated into the world economy and aligned in peaceful partnership with a reunited Europe has abruptly vanished.

Two opposing narratives vie to explain the strategic future of Europe, one geopolitical and one economic, and both center on the same resource: natural gas. In The Bridge, Thane Gustafson, an expert on Russian oil and gas, argues that the political rivalries that capture the lion’s share of media attention must be viewed alongside multiple business interests and differences in economic ideologies. With a dense network of pipelines linking Europe and Russia, natural gas serves as a bridge that unites the region through common interests.

Tracking the economic and political role of natural gas through several countries—Russia and Ukraine, the United Kingdom, Germany, the Netherlands, and Norway—The Bridge details both its history and its likely future. As Gustafson suggests, there are reasons for optimism, but whether the “gas bridge” can ultimately survive mounting geopolitical tensions and environmental challenges remains to be seen.


  • Tells a story that sheds new light on postwar Europe, as well as touching on many of the most important themes of that era…A richly detailed analysis written with a relaxed, lucid style…One of Gustafson’s central themes is the way that economics have often trumped politics in the European gas trade.

    —Ed Crooks, Financial Times


  • 2021, Winner of the Marshall Shulman Book Prize


  • Thane Gustafson is Professor of Government at Georgetown University. A widely recognized authority on Russian political economy and formerly a professor at Harvard University, he is the author of many books, notably The Bridge: Natural Gas in a Redivided Europe and Wheel of Fortune: The Battle for Oil and Power in Russia, as well as Russia 2010: And What It Means for the World (coauthored with Daniel Yergin).

Book Details

  • 520 pages
  • 6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches
  • Harvard University Press

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