The Absent Superpower

The Shale Revolution and a World Without America
Narrated by: Toby Sheets
Length: 13 hrs and 44 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (580 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

The world is changing in ways most of us find incomprehensible. Terrorism spills out of the Middle East into Europe. Russia, Iran, Saudi Arabia, China, and Japan vie to see who can be most aggressive. Financial breakdown in Asia and Europe guts growth, challenging hard-won political stability.

Yet, for the Americans, these changes are fantastic. Alone among the world's powers, only the United States is geographically wealthy, demographically robust, and energy secure. That last piece - American energy security - is rapidly emerging as the most critical piece of the global picture.

The American shale revolution does more than sever the largest of the remaining ties that bind America's fate to the wider world. It re-industrializes the United States, accelerates the global order's breakdown, and triggers a series of wide ranging military conflicts that will shape the next two decades. The common theme? Just as the global economy tips into chaos, just as global energy becomes dangerous, just as the world really needs the Americans to be engaged, the United States will be...absent.

In 2014's The Accidental Superpower, geopolitical strategist Peter Zeihan made the case that geographic, demographic, and energy trends were unravelling the global system. Zeihan takes the story a step further in The Absent Superpower, mapping out the threats and opportunities as the world descends into disorder.

©2016 Peter Zeihan (P)2017 Peter Zeihan

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Only worthwhile if you're curious about updates

I really enjoyed The Accidental Superpower (TAS) but this sequel read like it was mostly written on airplanes between Peter's "real work". It has value but gets deep into technical aspects of shale production and repeats much of what the first book said. The remainder of much of the book is a basically fictional gameplay of world conflict between powers, something akin to an intel report. Nukes are a glaring omission in this analysis.

I am still glad I listened to it though. I've listened to this book only a couple months after it was released so it's a more up to date take on the major trends Peter outlined in his first book, taking Trump into account. He also, ever so slightly, backs off some of the more questionable assertions of his first book (do rivers really impact transit THAT much in modern times? Is US GDP really the same as post-WWII?) so it's good to see his methodology tighten a little.

There's not really a cohesive thesis in this book so it meanders and gets a bit long winded at times. If you're very interested in an update from TAS or you're interested in the technical aspects of shale production give it a listen. If not, you're probably ok to give it a pass.

10 people found this helpful

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Great book. Missing pdf of maps.

The first book had a pdf of maps attached. I would have really liked to see that here.

5 people found this helpful

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A Bit Disappointing

It's hard to deny that Peter Zeihan is a fascinating speaker, but as I hear more of his stuff I grow increasingly skeptical of his credentials. His latest book, The Absent Superpower brings this into focus. If I had to concisely describe it, I'd say that it was essentially the same content as his earlier book (The Accidental Superpower) with a long promo for the shale oil industry and a far less interesting narrator. He could have made his point about the shale economy in about 1/4 of the time that he did. Instead, he goes on and on about it until you feel like flinging your phone out the window! Then, he abruptly changes gears and delivers a dish-watery, Cliff Notes version of The Accidental Superpower. All this is narrated by Toby Sheets who reads its with the same contrived snarkiness that Zeihan does. Ultimately, I'm left wondering why Zeihan even wrote this book. The obvious answer is to create the appearance of new content without really having any. (That, plus providing fresh grist for his well-paid speaking engagements.) Is this book bad? No, I wouldn't say that. But, I would suggest to anyone who wants to understand Zeihan better to buy the earlier book and listen to 2-3 of his lectures on YouTube. Once you do this, you begin to realize that he actually uses a rather canned, repetitive presentation.

3 people found this helpful

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Too long

The middle part of the book is great and new information. Too much minutiae about m/pd of oil in every aspect of the book. It doesn’t hit the way the could if oil was at $100 instead of $25.

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Must read on geopolitics.

Stop everything and read everything Zeihan has written. Incredibly interesting and information driven. Love this!

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Great book, and grear read

Would encourage abyone to get the book... Definitely fact check the data but I like how Peter brings together the elements that define a countries past and future prospects.

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Gloomy read

Answers a lot of questions but leaves more unanswered. China has a demographic problem, but isn’t Japanese demographics worse?
Won’t world demand for petroleum go down as demographics crash?
I’d recommend this book and listen to Peter talk on YouTube, he’s great and continue questions of his conclusions.

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Geopolitics for the average person

Zeihan makes geopolitics accessible and humorous to the average person. The main stream media I'm sure has lambasted his work due to its contrarian nature, but I have found his work extremely compelling. Great job Peter!

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excellent book on geopolitics

Peter zeihan and George freidman are my favorite geopolitics dtrstegists and both came out of Stratford. Zeihans book links up well with his first book on shale and overall world and US related geopolitics. highly recommended and can't wait for Zeihans 3rd book due out in 2020.

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Wow!

All I can say is read this book and become enlightened! The book is about how America's energy independence will cause us to retreat from being the worlds police force and the changes this will make globally. It is an excellent read!

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  • Sam
  • 04-12-19

I hope he's wrong about the UK's future

Easy going, I look forward to the preceding book. I now know to have a back up plan to move to France or the US

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  • Howard Wright
  • 05-06-18

Brilliant, insightful book

I found this to be a brilliant book which, explains the state of the world, explains the fundamental importance of oil in the world, and sets out the writer's compelling case for fundamental change in the world's order.

I had not realised that the origin of free trade was the USA's need for security post WW2. I hadn't realised the effect of shale oil on the USA's oil security. I hadn't realised that the USA could cut itself off from trade with the world without doing itself that much damage.

I strongly recommend this book for revealing the true state of the world, and the major changes which might occur in the near future. The narration is excellent too.

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  • Javier
  • 11-11-17

Way too similar to the first book.

I was excited to get into this book because I liked the first one. But it’s just too similar to the first. I honestly felt bored listen to this book because everything that would have been exciting to listen to has already been covered in the accidental superpower. Skip this book.

2 people found this helpful