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The Ends of the Earth: From Togo to Turkmenistan, from Iran to Cambodia--A Journey to the Frontiers of Anarchy Hardcover – June, 2001

ISBN-13: 978-0844671246 ISBN-10: 084467124X

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Product Details

  • Hardcover
  • Publisher: Peter Smith Pub Inc (June 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 084467124X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0844671246
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 5.8 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (76 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,599,687 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews Review

"The future here could be sadder than the present," writes Robert Kaplan in a chapter about the African nation of Sierra Leone. From Kaplan's perspective, the same could be said of virtually the entire Third World, which he spends the bulk of this book visiting and describing. Kaplan, an acclaimed foreign correspondent and author of Balkan Ghosts, is congenitally pessimistic about the developmental prospects of West Africa, the Nile Valley, and much of Asia. This traveler's tale offers dire warnings about overpopulation, environmental degradation, and social chaos. We should all hope that Kaplan's forecast is wrong, but we ignore him at our peril. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

From Scientific American

Kaplan is a superb reporter, expertly weaving his precise, vivid observation of facts at hand into a larger context of global social change. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Customer Reviews

Although sometimes it is not quite the easiest read, it is well worth the effort.
Z. William Arkosy
This book will be of interest to anyone who is trying to understand the forces behind current world events.
Erika Mitchell
This book was the first book of his that I read -- it prompted me to read many more.
Renee B. Fulton

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

66 of 66 people found the following review helpful By Erika Mitchell TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on April 14, 2002
Format: Paperback
This book is not your average travel memoir. It is an introspective analysis of the social and political conditions of developing countries from West Africa to Thailand. Typical travelogues can be titillating, but because the authors actually know so little about the cultures that they are visiting for a short time, readers learn more about the authors themselves than about the countries being described. However, this book is quite different in that respect--Kaplan obviously knows this region well, having worked as a journalist in the region for years. As a journalist, he knows which questions to ask and from whom. He describes conversations with high government officials (many of which wish to remain anonymous), as well as tidbits that he picks up from traveling companions and encounters with ordinary people. He backs up all of these personal anecdotes with hard facts and statistics footnoted to hundreds of resources listed in the bibliography. What he has to say can about the countries and cultures that he visits can be quite disturbing.
One of Kaplan�s goals for his trip is to try to discover why some regions of the developing world are bordering on anarchy, or have actually slipped over the edge, and others seem to be working well for the community. By observing societies and talking to leaders as well as ordinary people, he attempts to discover what works to build a civil world. He considers the varying influences that tradition, religion, education, government, and environment may have on a society. While he points out that education, particularly literacy, seems to be vital for maintaining civilization, he finds that there are no absolute factors that can predict which societies will succeed and which will devolve into barbarism.
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75 of 82 people found the following review helpful By Robert David STEELE Vivas HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWER on July 12, 2001
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
If you ever wondered why the U.S. Intelligence Community tries so desperately to keep its annual budget secret from Congress and the citizens, this book might provide a clue: one man, very well-grounded in historical and contextual reading, is capable of reporting extremely valuable insights that neither a $30 billion a year spy world nor a $3 billion a year diplomatic community seem capable of either comprehending or communicating to the public.
Robert D. Kaplan gets three big things right: he studies history before visiting; he is firmly grounded in a geographical or geophysical appreciation of every situation; and he travels on foot and at the lowest common level. The world he sees and reports on is not the world that the pampered and sheltered diplomats, businessmen, and journalists see or understand.
Reading Kaplan is a treat for anyone who takes the rest of the world and America's naivete with some seriousness. He is correct when he posits a new World War, "a protracted struggle between ourselves and the demons of crime, population pressure, environmental degradation, disease, and culture conflict."
He is at his best when mixing his historical reading with his personal intellect and observations, to arrive at conclusions that contradict conventional wisdom--for instance, his appreciation of Iran as a structured and stable society, and of Turkey as the next mega-power and the keeper of the Islamic flame. His extremely sharp observations about Saudi Arabia as the hidden enemy of the United States of America are very very provocative, especially when one realizes that we are providing them with an extremely generous military and economic program at U.S. taxpayer expense.
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31 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Guillermo Maynez on October 28, 2000
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I give this book five stars for one reason: it is important to read it and to keep thinking about its main subject: the future of the nation-state and the possible consequences of its demise. Kaplan knows he is going to be subjective. That's fine. He is well-read and travels with a good piece of luggage: previous knowledge of the history of the places he's going to -unlike most of the backpackers he correctly mocks at-. Kaplan is a good writer. He goes to fascinating and really different places. But the important thing about the book is his reflections on the future of the world, from the standpoint of these societies. This book takes us to some of the places where the future of humanity will be decided, within the next decades. These are regions in crisis, in its clinical, primary meaning: artificial borders, paper-States, overpopulation, an exhaustion of natural resources, forced and vertiginous urbanization, and one more thing: the rapid increase in violent religious fanatism, as a consequence of the erosion of identity in the misery-ridden slums of the Third World. The rank-and-file of the fundamentalist threats is formed by poor peasants who suddenly had lo leave their land and become lumpen-proletariats in Cairo, Ankara or some other megalopolis. West Africa, Egypt, Turkey, Iran, Central Asia, the Indian subcontinent, and Southeastern Asia, are "fracture lines". These regions are living the beginning of the end of the Nation-state as the basic cell of human political organization, only in the other end of the spectrum, compared with the European Union. And yet there is hope. As in Rishi Valley, what we still call the Third World need not be lost for peace, prosperity and a promising future. At least, not all of it.Read more ›
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