In The Revenge of Geography, Robert D. Kaplan builds on the insights, discoveries, and theories of great geographers and geopolitical thinkers of the near and distant past to look back at critical pivots in history and then to look forward at the evolving global scene. Kaplan traces the history of the world's hot spots by examining their climates, topographies, and proximities to other embattled lands. The Russian steppe's pitiless climate and limited vegetation bred hard and cruel men bent on destruction, for example, while Nazi geopoliticians distorted geopolitics entirely, calculating that space on the globe used by the British Empire and the Soviet Union could be swallowed by a greater German homeland.
Kaplan then applies the lessons learned to the present crises in Europe, Russia, China, the Indian subcontinent, Turkey, Iran, and the Arab Middle East. The result is a holistic interpretation of the next cycle of conflict throughout Eurasia. Remarkably, the future can be understood in the context of temperature, land allotment, and other physical certainties: China, able to feed only twenty-three percent of its people from land that is only seven percent arable, has sought energy, minerals, and metals from such brutal regimes as Burma, Iran, and Zimbabwe, putting it in moral conflict with the United States. Afghanistan's porous borders will keep it the principal invasion route into India, and a vital rear base for Pakistan, India's main enemy. Iran will exploit the advantage of being the only country that straddles both energy-producing areas of the Persian Gulf and the Caspian Sea. Finally, Kaplan posits that the United States might rue engaging in far-flung conflicts with Iraq and Afghanistan rather than tending to its direct neighbor Mexico, which is on the verge of becoming a semifailed state due to drug cartel carnage.
A brilliant rebuttal to thinkers who suggest that globalism will trump geography, this indispensable work shows how timeless truths and natural facts can help prevent this century's looming cataclysms.
©2012 Robert D. Kaplan (P)2012 Tantor
"A solid work of acuity and breadth." (Kirkus)
Audible has changed my life! Dry , itchy eyes were destroying one of my greatest pleasures - reading. Now I am experiencing books again!
In "The Importance of Being Earnest," Oscar Wilde's very upright English aristocrat Lady Bracknell says something like " I hate arguments; they are so often convincing."
Well, this book is a convincing and not-altogether-welcome argument, but an important and sobering one nevertheless. Using rock-solid evidence from lots of sources (modern and historical), Robert Kaplan tells us why we shouldn't dismiss geography as a determiner of politics simply because technology has made the world so "small". Our assumption that the whole world would be democratic if it just had the chance and the right example has tripped the US (and others) up most recently in Afghanistan and Iraq. The overturn of oppressive governments in Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, and potentially Syria may not be turning out the way we thought/hoped they would either.
So, woe to those who don't know or heed the lessons of history and the enormous influence that geography has always had on the peoples of the world! I suppose this should be self-evident, but it wasn't made clear in the history classes I took.
Many of the theories of geopolitical history and warfare are quite detailed and scholarly and will be more than some readers wish to explore. The lessons, though, seem to me to be essential in understanding not only the past but in preparing for the future.
These truths may be unpalatable and frightening for those of us who believe that, at heart, all human beings basically think alike and want the same things. I suspect Kaplan's more realistic and more cautionary view of the world is correct, and we should all hear about it.
I was often uncomfortable listening to this, but I recommend it highly for those who want a clear-eyed view of what may be coming in the future!
I really wanted to like this book because I love history and current events. Maybe my opinion of the book would have been different if I had read it instead of listening to it as an audiobook. The narration was so painful. He would stop in the dead center of a sentence so it sounded like this: "The mountains kept forces at bay." (stop) .......... (extremely long pause) "and this affected the type of army that the county would build." He especially did this after the word "which" and as you can easily imagine, that inappropriate pause broke up the entire train of thought.
The theory behind the book is that geography affects countries which affects war which affects current events. But the book is very disorganized - shooting from one country to another, with ancient history followed by current events. There has to be a better way to organize the topics.
This is the first time I have not finished a book but I couldn't take it anymore. I intend on making another effort but the fact that I consider reading this to be a chore says plenty.
I can only think of a very select few who'd be interested in this material.
Learning modern military national strategy
It could have been more lively
I think another review I read on this book nailed it. The book was slow to pick up, the first half was pretty boring and read like a dry text book, but after that it got more interesting.
Learning about why Russia, Turkey, China and some other nations did X, or what some of China's actions say about it, or the importance of Mexico was really interesting. Long detailed summaries of academics was... dry..
Decent book but far too much "name dropping" of other political scientists and too little original thought. Author is a bit pretentious with frequent French phrases and bragging about his travels. Narrator reminded me of my old world history professor and he seemed almost bored speaking the material. Was hoping for interesting conclusions and analysis along the lines of George Friedman but was disappointed that he referred more often to the conclusions of others than developing his own.
Say something about yourself!
I was initially very excited to listen to the book because of my interest in the subject. However, the first part of the book is like listening to someone reading a textbook aloud. 80 Percent of the first part of the download is a historical framing of the subject. This was, frankly, tedious (in large part due to the narration). I was twice tempted to just delete the book from my IPOD, but decided to continue. Finally, the book started to deliver on its premise and presented several insightful vistas of the future.
I generally do not like to post negative reviews, however, unless you are a die-hard devotee of the subject you may want to pass this one over.
I was so interested in this story, but I couldn't get past the first fifteen minutes. The narration is awful.
Absolutely not. There is a huge difference between a comma and a full stop. It was like listening to William Shatner read poetry.
There is a huge difference between a comma and a full stop. It was like listening to William Shatner read poetry.
I'll have to let you know after I check it out and read it myself.
Learn, understand, then decide whether you accept or reject.
This audiobook does a good job of looking at regional issues and logically attempts to explain what to look out for and how it could impact the region and the rest of the world.
It is a fascinating history of the importance of geography in shaping world events.
Yes, I would recommend it to a friend. The author is a very educated man who has traveled far and wide. His life experiences are a huge bonus in understanding geographic hotspots and the reasons behind the conflicts.
The author shares many stories of his world wide journies to help the listener understand the different areas. It is very helpful for a fuller understanding of the situation.
I especially enjoyed the overview of China and the Middle East. It is helpful to know some geography before listening to this book.
A very thorough overview of potential conflicts in both the near term and long term.
My favorite of Kaplan's books, and I've read most of his works. If you want to learn about the world and geopolitics, start here.
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