• The Absent Superpower

  • The Shale Revolution and a World Without America
  • By: Peter Zeihan
  • Narrated by: Toby Sheets
  • Length: 13 hrs and 44 mins
  • 4.7 out of 5 stars (853 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

What listeners say about The Absent Superpower

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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.

11 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.

8 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.

6 people found this helpful

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Worth The Investment Of Your Time

Outstanding. Provides reassurance in an uncomfortable time. Listen to become better informed in an environment soaked in misinformation.

1 person found this helpful

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Good analysis, a few glaring blind spots.

Let's get the petty out of the way 1st. The author is an older Gen Xer that thinks his generation had it worse by coming of age in the 80s then Millennials coming of age during the Great Recession. He comes across at best as condescending, and at worst willfully ignorent of the socioeconomic reality that shaped Millenbials. I kinda want to meet him to ask how his generations narsisitic nihilism, is better the my generations narsisitic nihilism? They are obviously two sides of the same coin.

Okay, with that out of my system let's get to the important stuff. What the author knows he really knows, mostly geo politics and how fossil fuels effect it. What he doesn't know he kinda glosses over, or ignores, or perhaps dosen't know he doesn't know. Not that you should expect any author to know everything on such a complex issue, but you should listen with that in mind. One of the glaring omissions is hydrogen and nuclear from his discussion of green tech. Perhaps he wants to srick to what people have already imbraced, but they aee still there. Honestly unless you are tracking the evolution of his predictions or want the more academic background, stick to "The End of the World is Just the Beginning" by the same author. It's newer, and as a result has more clarity and conciseness, though he still neglects hyrogen and nuclear. Also it doesn't hurt that he seriously pulled back his condensention toward Millennials. I assume he realized who his primary audience actually is.

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Ziehhan said this is his favorite. I would agree

A well crafted book providing a well packaged, densely informative yet digestible reason of how energy independence of the United States changes it's behavior and how that impacts every nation on the planet.

My biggest gripe is with the narration. He couldn't take the time to read out the acronyms. For example when dealing with big numbers he simply states the letters of each acronym (e.g., 13 M B P D instead of clearly saying 13 million barrels per day). Just breaks with how an actual reader would think of the acronym when one sees it on the page. Would one say 35 M P H in real life?

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It's all about the fracking

It's a great update to the previous book but I expected more analysis of issues other than energy. The focus is definitely narrower than the first one.

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all the facts missing from political discord

I like hell Peter dives deep into the numbers and the fact highlights the future trends and then draws conclusions. I don't always agree with his conclusions, but I appreciate the "facts first" approach
can we send EVERYONE in politics to study under him for a year ???

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Wished author narrated own book

Love all of Peter’s content, enjoy his videos and books. My comment is I would have rather heard this audio book through his voice as many are accustomed to listening to rather than someone else, made it less enjoyable for some reason.

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Did not age well

The thesis of this book needs to be reimagined. The future of energy is not fossil fuels. It’s solar, wind, and battery storage. Look up ReThinkX and Tony Seba.

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  • Michael
  • 01-04-22

Fascinating, if sobering, insights

Peter Zeihan has a grasp of global history, geography, politics and in particular energy economics that is very impressive. What makes this book so enjoyable is gently ironic tone of voice and punchy delivery, neither of which I’ve encountered before in anything this well researched. It’s a winning combination of expert and engaging.

If like me you enjoy history, geo politics, economics and/or need to see where the CEO political winds are blowing for business, you’ll find this a superb book.

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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

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  • mathew collins
  • 06-23-20

Wishful thinking

It’s a good book with a lot of good points but it seems to think everything is just Geography and fails to account for other factors such as history and the average IQ of the population of a given country. Another example of missing out the details is he says that’s Japan would take Sakhalin from Russia lol does he realise it’s the nuclear age we live in and Russia has as much or more nukes then the USA. He also pants America as the golden county, like completely superior to any nation or group of nations, he’s fucken dreaming, it will be lucky to stay together with all the race bating and tensions, some kind of civil war is possible. Same with the idea that Europe will risk or vice a verse Russian risk nuclear war with each other over the Ukraine or Poland, no bullshit that will not happen with two nuclear powers