• The World

  • A Brief Introduction
  • By: Richard Haass
  • Narrated by: Dan Woren
  • Length: 10 hrs and 24 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: History, World
  • 4.6 out of 5 stars (300 ratings)
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Publisher's Summary

New York Times Best Seller

An invaluable primer from Richard Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations, that will help anyone, expert and non-expert alike, navigate a time in which many of our biggest challenges come from the world beyond our borders.

Like it or not, we live in a global era, in which what happens thousands of miles away has the ability to affect our lives. This time, it is a coronavirus known as Covid-19, which originated in a Chinese city many had never heard of but has spread to the corners of the earth. Next time it could well be another infectious disease from somewhere else. Twenty years ago it was a group of terrorists trained in Afghanistan and armed with box-cutters who commandeered four airplanes and flew them into buildings (and in one case a field) and claimed nearly 3,000 lives. Next time it could be terrorists who use a truck bomb or gain access to a weapon of mass destruction. In 2016 hackers in a nondescript office building in Russia traveled virtually in cyberspace to manipulate America's elections. Now they have burrowed into our political life. In recent years, severe hurricanes and large fires linked to climate change have ravaged parts of the earth; in the future we can anticipate even more serious natural disasters. In 2008, it was a global financial crisis caused by mortgage-backed securities in America, but one day it could well be a financial contagion originating in Europe, Asia, or Africa. This is the new normal of the 21st century.

The World is designed to provide listeners of any age and experience with the essential background and building blocks they need to make sense of this complicated and interconnected world. It will empower them to manage the flood of daily news. Listeners will become more informed, discerning citizens, better able to arrive at sound, independent judgments. While it is impossible to predict what the next crisis will be or where it will originate, those who listen to The World will have what they need to understand its basics and the principal choices for how to respond.

In short, this book will make listeners more globally literate and put them in a position to make sense of this era. Global literacy - knowing how the world works - is a must, as what goes on outside a country matters enormously to what happens inside. Although the United States is bordered by two oceans, those oceans are not moats. And the so-called Vegas rule - what happens there stays there - does not apply in today's world to anyone anywhere. US foreign policy is uniquely American, but the world Americans seek to shape is not. Globalization can be both good and bad, but it is not something that individuals or countries can opt out of. Even if we want to ignore the world, it will not ignore us. The choice we face is how to respond.

We are connected to this world in all sorts of ways. We need to better understand it, both its promise and its threats, in order to make informed choices, be it as students, citizens, voters, parents, employees, or investors. To help listeners do just that, The World focuses on essential history, what makes each region of the world tick, the many challenges globalization presents, and the most influential countries, events, and ideas. Explaining complex ideas with wisdom and clarity, Richard Haass' The World is an evergreen book that will remain relevant and useful as history continues to unfold.

©2020 Richard Haass (P)2020 Penguin Audio

Critic Reviews

"This is the book that explains how the world really works, how it is changing, and why it matters. Just what every citizen and student needs to read." (Madeleine Albright)

"This terrific work delivers completely on its promise to provide readers with a basic understanding of the world. It is hard to imagine anyone more suited for this ambitious task than Richard Haass. His narrative flair, depth of experience, and wide-ranging knowledge sparkle on every page." (Doris Kearns Goodwin) 

"An essential book - just what the world needs now to put things in perspective." (Ray Dalio)  

What listeners say about The World

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    5 out of 5 stars

Excellent Primer for young adults

If you’re just entering adulthood and wonder why the world moves in ways you don’t comprehend around you, or just feel that the public schooling curriculum left you with lots of job skills but not much depth of global context then this is your book. It’s very up to date and covers a massive swath of modern history, politics and the threads of logic and ripples of cause and effect which shaped the world you are entering. What this book will not do is go deep. The subjects covered justify long texts which could (and do) fill hundreds books of equal size to grant a reader more than passing knowledge. Personally, I would love to have read this book 10+ years and 200 books ago, a roadmap to learning, and I can wholeheartedly recommend to anyone starting such a journey. The only caveat is to be aware the author does, at times, share his political opinion which needs to be recognized by the reader as that, rather than fact. Mercifully this is less than a handful of times. Overall, well deserving of your time.

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A relevant read!

A carefully outlined and nicely delivered text by Richard Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations.

It begins with a brief history of the world starting with the Thirty Years’ war (in the seventeen century) and ending in what the author refers to as the Post-Cold War era.

It later graduates it’s readers to a series of more intricate topics such as immigration, trade, conflicts and alliances, monetary policies, order, and the principles of self-determination.

It may feel ideologically biased at times, perhaps due to the added personal commentary by the author. However, regardless of Haass’ agenda, the book (or it’s content) should be a reading essential and a prerequisite for anyone seeking to formulate an opinion (political or otherwise) about our history, the present, and what lies ahead.

This book may not recalibrate your personal ideologies but it will certainly give you a fresh perspective about our past, and the root causes of some of the present challenges we face. Some of the more socially-oriented topics will likely make you question the ethical aspects of politics (or lack thereof), or at the very least, leave you with a broader view of the world and the mechanics of globalization.

2 people found this helpful

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A Brief Introduction Indeed

This book is meant for those who pay absolutely no attention to the world around them. There is not much to be learned from this book if you already follow current events and have a decent appreciation for history. No offense to the author, he addressed in the title and in the preface.

2 people found this helpful

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Important primer for today's world

For those who either didn't have access to or avail themselves of any International Relations courses this book is an excellent launch point.

1 person found this helpful

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Great history lesson, extremely biased on current climate

This book is excellent in providing a history lesson on how the world was formed. I was really enjoying it up until the modern era. He completely lost me as he became extremely biased! The blatant views on current policies and international relations became overbearing, coupled with the endorsement of one-sided news sources, all credibility was lost.

Because the history lesson was so good, I’ve given this book three stars. Had the entirety of book been like the last 25%, it would have received two stars.

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This is a 101 Basic Course

I can honestly I say this book did not cover any new ground for me, not once during thus book did I stop to take notes, which hasn’t ever happened before. That being said, for a world affairs neophyte, this book will give you a very sound foundation.

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Amazing Book!

While each chapter of the book could have its own book, Richard does amazing job at summarising historical events that shaped and continue to shape international relations and foreign policy of the United States. Must Read!

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Very informative

Very informative, great addition to the library although seeming targeted at an audience lacking in any world knowledge. But nevertheless still a good listen

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Fantastic Book

Covers a wide range of subjects in a very readable way Recommend it to anyone looking for an even-handed review of past and current history.

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Must read

For those of you who thought irrelevant requirements were a waste of time. Read it

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  • Anna Athanassiou
  • 06-23-20

Excellent World Politics General Picture

Dear Author,

I surfed gladly from back to back, learning a few details from the past and insights from the insider who you definitely are. The book really gives an honest overview of world politics, from the US point of view of course.
One issue, though got me distressed, namely: why on earth didn't you mention Poland in the Fall of communism credits?! Not even one phrase! In my, and not only, view the Berlin Wall would not fall if Wałęsa didn't do his bit!
It would be great to hear your explanation of the omission.
With kind regards!

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  • Anonymous User
  • 06-10-20

No heading

fascinating and lucid explanation of conditions prevailing in the world today. and that is all I have to say