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The Coming Anarchy: Shattering the Dreams of the Post Cold War [Kindle Edition]

Robert D. Kaplan
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (95 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $15.95
Kindle Price: $10.52
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Sold by: Random House LLC

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Book Description

From the bestselling author of Balkan Ghosts and The Ends of the Earth comes a fascinating new book on the imminent global chaos that is as brilliant as it is necessary, as original as it is controversial.

The end of the Cold War has not ushered in the global peace and prosperity that many had anticipated. Environmental degradation is causing the rampant spread of famine and disease, and a rising number of nations are being torn by violent wars of fierce tribalism and trenchant regionalism. Our newest democracies, such as Russia and Venezuela, are bloody maelstroms of violence and crime, while America is beset with an alarmingly high number of apathetic citizens content to concern themselves with matters of entertainment and convenience. Bold, erudite, and profoundly important, The Coming Anarchy is a compelling must-read by one of today's most penetrating writers and provocative minds.

"Analytically daring.... Informed by a rock-solid, unwavering realism and an utter absence of sentimentality.... Kaplan is a knowledgeable and forceful polemicist who mixes the attributes of journalist and visionary." —The New York Times

"Ambitiously eclectic.... [Kaplan] is one of America's most engaging writers on contemporary international affairs." —The New York Times Book Review

From the Trade Paperback edition.

Editorial Reviews Review

Robert Kaplan warns of a "bifurcated world divided between societies like ours, producing goods and services that the rest of the world wants, and those mired in various forms of chaos." This is a familiar theme for previous Kaplan readers (Balkan Ghosts, The Ends of the Earth). For those unacquainted with Kaplan, however, The Coming Anarchy is a fine introduction to one of the most important voices on the future of society and international relations. Kaplan mixes the intense reportage of a travel writer with the sharp wisdom of a foreign-policy expert to deliver what he calls "an unrelenting record of uncomfortable truths, of the kind that many of us implicitly acknowledge but will not publicly accept." The Coming Anarchy is also a disturbing book: Kaplan's vision of the future is a bleak one, full of ethnic conflict as the world falls away from a cold war that at least provided a kind of stability in even the shakiest of countries. That's gone now, of course, and Kaplan's descriptions of life and politics in Sierra Leone, Russia, India, and elsewhere are keenly troubling. Much of the book--but not all of it--has already seen print, mainly on the pages of The Atlantic Monthly and The Wall Street Journal. It is brief in length but not in importance. --John J. Miller

From Library Journal

Lest anyone still maintain the illusion that the end of the Cold War ushered in an era of "good times," these nine provocative, thoughtful, and very speculative essays (most of which previously appeared in periodicals) should set the record straight. Here Kaplan (The End of the Earth; Balkan Ghosts), a contributing editor of the Atlantic Monthly, describes his Clockwork Orange-like vision of the world's future--in which societies are permeated with violence, crime remains unabated, and official corruption and anarchy run rampant. Using West Africa and Turkey as his primary examples, he argues that "environmental scarcity," ethnic strife, overcrowded living areas, and the changing nature of war will irreparably tear the social fabrics of societies all over the world--in places as far apart as India, Canada, South America, Yugoslavia, Africa, the Far East, the Middle East, and even the United States. Kaplan further suggests that democracy will not protect us from this apocalypse; indeed, he notes, it could even help cause it. His experiences as a journalist in the world's hot spots corroborate his pessimistic conclusions, and the clarity of his vision serves as a wake-up call. For most public and academic libraries.
-Jack Forman, Mesa Coll. Lib., San Diego
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Product Details

  • File Size: 1133 KB
  • Print Length: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; Reprint edition (August 13, 2002)
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #604,078 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

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59 of 62 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Chilling realism May 13, 2000
"Anarchy" aptly describes the world envisioned by Kaplan in this collection of essays. He builds on his vast experience working with the U.S. military and third world countries to construct the ultimate pragmatical, yet in his mind bone-chillingly true, prediction for the future. His vision consists of a bifurcated world divided between the first-world economic superpowers and everyone else; a world in which the gap between the two will be ever more exacerbated as time goes on. In such a world, he envisions the devolution of the nation-state(which he believes to be largely a fantastical Western construct when applied to most of the world) into what can be described as nothing else but barely controlled chaos or anarchy. He predicts dramatic changes in the world power system in the next century, brought on by dramatic negative political and socioeconomic changes in the least developed but fastest-growing areas of the earth. Another perspective I found interesting came from the final essay in the book, in which he criticized the idealist foreign-policy views of many American intellectuals, an argument I have found in my experience to be dead-on.
From a critical perspective, I believe that Kaplan takes too negative a take on the world's prospects for the next century for two reasons. First, he draws from his experiences with underdeveloped nations and extrapolates to make generalizations about the world's economic superpowers, an oversimplification that I found astounding given his depth of knowledge on the subject.
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52 of 55 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Don't give up after the first on!! October 2, 2002
"Kaplan is no more than an alarmist." That is what I thought somewhere in the middle of the first essay from which the book gains its title, The Coming Anarchy. Then I began the second of the nine essays which make up the book, "Was Democracy just a Moment?" "O.K., he's an alarmist who believes democracy will destroy the world," my thinking continued. But by about page 69 I began to find insightful principles like, "States have never been formed by elections. Geography, settlement patterns, the rise of literate bourgeoisie, and, tragically, ethnic cleansing have formed states." And, "Social stability results from the establishment of a middle class" (70). These were the kinds of foundational thinking I could agree with. "Maybe I shouldn't dismiss this guy altogether," I speculated. At that point I never imagined that I would find what I did, at the end of the book.
The fact that Robert Kaplan recognizes the import of powers of observation is one of the things that impressed me as I continued to read Kaplan's essays. The first several essays of the book paint graphic pictures of a not-so-idealistic post Cold War world. Kaplan undauntingly portrays the chaos in most Third World countries. He draws parallels that cannot be dismissed. Whether you agree or not, you are forced to consider. While many people look away, and journalists won't consider writing, Kaplan keeps watching and composing.
Linked with his deductions resulting from observation, Kaplan combines a commanding respect for understanding the significance of human nature. In the fifth essay in the book, "And Now for the News..." he establishes the value of history as related in The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, by Edward Gibbons.
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77 of 87 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars a little spotty; surely Kaplan has done better June 11, 2003
This book collects 9 essays by Kaplan, known for political realism and bold travel writing. The first and last essays are the worst; the middle seven are not so bad.
In the first essay Kaplan argues that the present peace will not last long, that its "degeneration" in places like sub-Saharan Africa will lead to anarchy, with disturbing results even in the first world. His main evidence is environmental change and resource depletion (especially soil and water--his argument would be stronger if he included oil). I don't know what golden age Kaplan is looking back to in sub-Saharan Africa (in Eastern Europe I guess it must be the Ottomans); so anarchy there will be no surprise. But with grand assumptions and meager evidence--surely he has more than he cites, but he has to deal with apparently contrary evidence to be truly convincing--he declares breathtaking conclusions, such as the dissolution of the USA into ethnic warfare. Perhaps he's right, but his analysis is so thin that he's not persuasive.
Yet there are moments of light, as when he describes the historical perspective of the occupants of Ankara's slums, quoting Naipaul. Or when he analyzes the "lies of the mapmaker," more precisely the lies of the post-WWII statesmen who carelessly created the states defined by the lines on the map.
So many people naively believe that the 3rd world will inevitably become like the 1st; but Kaplan believes it will go the other way just as inevitably. His first essay is a polemic for his belief. I'm sorry; it has little useful analysis or insight.
Reading the second essay, "Was Democracy Just a Moment?" is like stepping from darkness into light (of course there are still shadows). If you believe that democracy is always the best government, this essay will be challenging for you.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
Interesting read but not very inspiring. A gloomy outlook.
Published 1 month ago by Rene J. Boufford
5.0 out of 5 stars Great customer service!
Great book, fast shipping.
Published 2 months ago by Dr. Paul Pratt, Chiropractic Physician
5.0 out of 5 stars Good study and conclusions
Another fine book from the Kaplan stables. Written a while ago but some of the predictions especially in West Africa seem to be coming to pass. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Douglas Teixiera
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting and Semi-Prescient, If Overly Pessimistic
This is an interesting book, because it’s a book of (pessimistic) analysis and predictions made long enough ago (mid- to late-1990s) that some judgment can be made of its accuracy. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Adam Wayne
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Great when it came out and still great.
Published 5 months ago by John S. Dowd
5.0 out of 5 stars brilliant
Brilliant work and analyses. Very well worth reading even though it's somewhat dated written in the 1990's. One of his best books.
Published 6 months ago by Ali Shihabi
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
A must read to get a handle on today's events and future potential problems.
Published 7 months ago by thomas brobyn
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
I throughly enjoyed the The Coming Anarchy. I love Robert Kaplan's books.
Published 9 months ago by Jim Duffy
4.0 out of 5 stars I highly recommend this book
The book is dated (written in the 90's) but almost Prophetic into today's problems with the lack of superpowers. I highly recommend this book. It is time less.
Published 10 months ago by alfred anderson
5.0 out of 5 stars Love it!
Book arrived quickly and at a great price. Kaplan is a great writer and this book is a great read. Very informative and written by a guy that knows what he's talking about.
Published 13 months ago by The Dude13
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