"There is a deep landlubber bias in historical and social research. History and social life, we seem to think, happen on the ground."
Eventually the Ottoman empire grew weaker--and the Cossacks came on the scene. The Cossacks were perfectly happy--and perfectly capable--of conducting piracy on the sea in addition to their raids on horseback. But by themselves they weren't able to dominate the Black Sea. But their piratical successes were one of the things that revealed the increasing weakness of the Ottomans. The Russians took note.
The latter history of the Black Sea is story of the conflict between Russia and Turkey over control of the Black Sea--and the efforts of other players, the British, the French--to keep one party from dominating. The Crimean War, among other conflicts, was the result. Among the results of the Crimean War was an attempt to de-militarize the Black Sea.
The book comes out in 2004 and at that time King was optimistic. There were new environmental initiatives to counteract years of neglect and damage. "[C]onflict among the states of the Black Sea zone is now virtually unthinkable." [p.240] Alas. As Yogi Berra may (or may not) have said: It's tough to make predictions, especially about the future.
Still, it's a pretty fascinating book, even if it needs updating. If you've read his other books you'll know, King likes anecdotes and uses them well. There's some good stories in it and it's pretty readable. And especially now, worth reading.
As King notes in the beginning, six countries currently border the Black Sea; if you counted the countries in the Black Sea drainage area, there are 22 possibilities. Out of all those choices, I guess I won't pick the most obscure... King is a professor in the foreign services school at Georgetown, and at least at the time of this book held the Ion Ra chair in Romanian studies. Romania is important in the book, I need to keep up my Romania streak, and so...Romania it is! for the European Reading Challenge. iu