European Council on Foreign Relations

The Far North in focus

I've written and broadcast about Charles Emmerson's book 'The future history of the Arctic' enough times for it to look as though I'm his agent. I'm not - I just happen to think his book is an excellent treatment of a fascinating subject! Apologies over, I'm going to talk about Charles once again...

I have just started work on a non-ECFR project that touches on ECFR's subject area. I have started presenting audio podcasts for the New Books Network, and the first subject touching on European issues was an in-depth interview with Charles. The interview is here for those interested in the Arctic - and not just those of us Europeans who call Greenland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Finland or Russia our home.

The book builds up a historical picture of a land that is harsh and difficult to understand yet mystical and promising. The people that it breeds are hardy and self reliant: in one memorable quote Charles suggests that Icelanders are adept at dealing with both the good times and bad (and historically they've mainly been at best rather tricky) but are remarkably unprepared for either.

Those untypical good times may be just around the horizon for many in the Arctic, thanks to 2 broader themes: 1. Climate change opening up access to the Arctic's forbidding geography; 2. The potential for this opening up to allow access to minerals, oil and gas at a time when demand for these is high, and stocks are running low.

Have a listen! Next up on the New Books in European Studies channel will be books on Poland and then the Balkans (you can also subscribe to the podcasts through i-tunes, as with ECFR's own podcasts). If you have any suggestions for other authors, please let me know! For those interested in matters below the Mediterranean, I'm also going to be presenting New Books in African Studies, starting with an interview with James Brabazon, the author of 'My friend the mercenary'.

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