Marshall D. Shulman Book Prize

2014 Citation Recipient

Per Högselius

The Marshall D. Shulman Book Prize, established in 1987 and sponsored by the Harriman Institute at Columbia University, is awarded annually for an outstanding monograph dealing with the international relations, foreign policy, or foreign-policy decision-making of any of the states of the former Soviet Union or Eastern Europe published in the previous calendar year. The prize is dedicated to the encouragement of high-quality studies of the international behavior of the countries of the former Communist Bloc.

Winner: Per Högselius
Title: Red Gas: Russia and the Origins of European Energy Dependence (Palgrave Macmillan)

In this superb example of transnational history, Red Gas, by Per Högselius, tells the story behind Western Europe’s dependence on Russian natural gas, beginning in the 1960s all the way up to the present day.  Drawing upon multiple archives in Russia, Ukraine, Germany and Austria, Högeselius’ account has many moving parts:  including Alexei Kortunov, the visionary official at the head of Soviet gas production who advocated the export of natural gas to Western Europe beginning in the 1950s; Rudolf Lukesch, the enterprising director of Austria’s state-owned steel industry who arranged the first deal importing Soviet gas in exchange for pipeline in 1968; and German Chancellor Willy Brandt, who saw the gas trade as part of his Ostpolitik strategy to reduce cold war tensions.  Högselius guides the reader with confidence and clarity through the intricacies of cold war diplomacy, the complexities of doing business between the capitalist West and socialist East, and all the technical constraints involved in creating an infrastructure that can transport natural gas from Siberia to Western Europe.   The result is a far more nuanced view of the energy trade as a political resource for both importers and exporters.  Despite Western fears that dependence on Soviet gas might make Europe vulnerable to “politically motivated supply disruptions,” the Soviets had both an economic and political interest in honoring its agreements even when tensions were high, and even when they had to reduce distributions to their own population.