Odell, a former Shell employee who has taught economic geography at the London School of Economics and the University of Rotterdam, broadly analyzes the relationships between the major geopolitical areas of the world and the vagaries of off supply over the last few decades. Originally subtitled A Geographical Interpretation, the book -- a 1970 publication now in its third edition -- has been exhaustively revised in the light of current events. Don't expect it to supplement your prejudices or provide a cocktail-party repertoire of instant analyses and solutions. With few political value judgments, Odell sketches the history of oil production in the Mideast and other petroleum-rich areas such as Venezuela. He explains the various arrangements that oil companies and host countries have come to and describes the stranglehold which the major companies have maintained after building refineries in developing countries. He demonstrates that the Soviet Union -- a tremendous, self-sufficient producer -- is already an important exporter to the non-Communist world (Japan, Scandinavia, Italy, even West Germany) and may easily become the top oil-producing nation in the 1980's. Of the current situation he suggests that the 1973 war turned a manufactured crisis mounted by the oil companies into a real crisis, as the Arabs decided to do unilaterally what they had already been doing in collusion with the oil companies. Odell is Micawberish about the future: by stepped-up exploration of indigenous oil and gas the consuming nations (particularly Western Europe, his main focus) can find enough petroleum resources to meet their needs until well into the 21st century, by which time the necessary technology for nuclear fusion and solar energy will somehow have turned up. He pays no attention to ecological issues or the moral problem of depleting an irreplaceable resource in the hope that our children can solve everything. Still, this doesn't pretend to be a universal answer to troubles; it merely sheds a generally sane light on the global complexity of the situation.