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The Geopolitics of Emotion: How Cultures of Fear, Humiliation, and Hope are Reshaping the World Hardcover – Deckle Edge, May 5, 2009

3.9 out of 5 stars 15 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. An astonishingly creative response to Samuel HuntingtonÖs The Clash of Civilizations, this groundbreaking analysis examines political trends through the prism of emotion, arguing that fear, humiliation and hope might be as influential as the cultural, social and economic factors that breed political conflict. Shedding keen light on the limitations of the geographic and cultural determinism that currently dominates international relations discourse, Moïsi uses these definitions to remap the world's political regions. Dexterously avoiding cliché or sentimentality, Moïsi studies how emotions interact (e.g., fear is the absence of confidence; hope is the expression of confidence; humiliation is the loss of hope that results from wounded confidence) and plumbs the roots of AsiaÖs culture of hope, the historical humiliation feeding Islamic extremism and the long-dominant emotions in the West: a fear of the other, confusion about national identity and an anxiety to maintain global relevance. This elegant thesis presents the very real consequences of the Clash of Emotions and concludes with well-reasoned if tentative conjecture about how these currents will shift in years to come. (June)
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Review

Praise for The Geopolitics of Emotion

“An astonishingly creative response to Samuel Huntington’s The Clash of Civilizations…[a] groundbreaking analysis…This elegant thesis presents the very real consequences of the “Clash of Emotions” and concludes with well-reasoned if tentative conjecture about how these currents will shift in years to come.” --Publisher’s Weekly, starred review

“This is a book rich in intelligence and insight. Today's reflex is to strive for simplicity. Dominique Moisi performs the infinitely more valuable task of making sense of the cacophony of complexities that shape our world.” Philip Stephens, Financial Times

“This is Moisi at his best: original, challenging and full of elegance.  This little book shows how globalization has forged a new world disorder defined as much by clashes of emotions, as divisions over interests and power.” Mark Leonard, author of What Does China Think?

“Human beings are not automata concerned solely with maximising wealth or power. They are bundles of emotions. In this scintillating essay, the French analyst, Dominique Moisi, explores the role of three potent emotions - hope, humiliation and fear - in shaping the world we live in today and might live in tomorrow.” Martin Wolf, author of Fixing Global Finance
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This Book Is Bound with "Deckle Edge" Paper
You may have noticed that some of our books are identified as "deckle edge" in the title. Deckle edge books are bound with pages that are made to resemble handmade paper by applying a frayed texture to the edges. Deckle edge is an ornamental feature designed to set certain titles apart from books with machine-cut pages. See a larger image.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Doubleday; 1St Edition edition (May 5, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385523769
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385523769
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #941,007 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Galen believed in humorism: Essentially, this theory held that the human body was filled with four basic substances, called four humors, which are in balance when a person is healthy. All diseases and disabilities resulted from an excess or deficit of one of these four humors. Replace humors with "emotions" (hope, fear, humiliation) and apply this concept to - well, I'm not sure (nor is the author): nations, states... anyway whatever is the object of geopolitics. This is what the book is about. Humorism did not help mankind much in understanding disease - nor is this book likely to help us understand the world, despite its easy language and scintillating parade of platitudes and anecdotes.

Emotions rule the world, according to the author. So what else is new: The citizens of Athens emotionally rushed into war against Syracuse 2500 years ago, and groups, societies and nations have been swept into action or inaction ever since. A first problem is: emotions are highly personal - yet they may translate into social action. What is interesting then is how this phenomenon comes about, evolves, or ends. In recent years we have begun to understand such processes (see Cass SUNSTEIN Going to Extremes: How Like Minds Unite and Divide). The author, however, eschews the low road of analytical and quantitative knowledge for the sweeping flight of fancy, plunging headlong into crass anthropomorphism.

The author links emotions somehow to "identity" - which he never clearly defines or explores. Identity is the refuge of the perplexed nationalist: after immanent feelings in a group lost traction, identity is supposed to explain human behaviour.
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Format: Hardcover
I absolutely loved this book. Dominique Moisi is successfully able to create a lucid picture of the current state of geopolitics by viewing various countries and regions through an emotional lens, rather than a rigid, statistical one which is so common in international relations politics today. This book was wonderfully written, kept me hooked the entire way through, and offered many valuable insights and opinions. Thank you, M. Moisi, for a delightfully enjoyable and informative read.
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Format: Hardcover
Dominique Moisi writes an excellent column on international matters in the Financial Times, and I make it a point to never miss it. So when I saw that he had written a book, I just had to pick it up.

First things first: "The Geopolitics of Emotion: How Cultures of Fear, Humiliation, and Hope Are Reshaping the World" (190 pages) is the translation of a book written by Moisi last year and published in France. In the "Preface to the American Edition", Moisi of course takes the election of Obama as a sign of hopn, among many signs of fear (for example, the attacks in Mumbai mere weeks later). "The very title of this book will strike many critics as a sheer provocation, if not an oxymoron. This book is based on a dual convition. First: one cannot fully understand the world in which we livewithout trying to integrate and understand its emotions. And second, emotions are like cholesterol, both good and bad. The problem is to find the right balance between them." Moisi then goes into details in the chapters that follow, and it makes for fascinating reading. Beware: this is not a book that you red in a hurry. In fact, I read this book, on and off, over the course of about 3-4 weeks, taking in a chapter here and there and then digesting it.

The last chapter in the book is "The World in 2025", in which Moisi outlines 2 scenarios: one in which fear prevails, and one in which hope prevails. Couldn't help but notice the following remark in the fear-scenario: "Perhaps it was the peaceful but stunning explostion of Belgium in 2010, or the subsequent declarations of independence by Scotland, Wales and Catalonia." Wow. (This chapter is reminiscent of George Friedman's excellent book from earlier this year "The Next 100 Years".) Moisi concludes his book with an urgent plea for change as "self-preservation means change". In all, this book is outstanding from start to finish, and highly recommended.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Fascinating. A bit like Lucy Van Pelt explaining "little known facts" to Linus and Charlie Brown --[...]. Moisi proposes and intriguing and promising concept, i.e. that the emotional climate prevailing among peoples can be mapped like their political and cultural environment, and that understanding this national zeitgeist can better help us understand what is happening in the world so that we can better chart our own future. However, he tends to overgeneralize and reshape facts or pseudofacts to fit the emotional framework he is trying to create. The end result is a work with an interesting premise that, unfortunately, cannot be taken very seriously.
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Format: Hardcover
Having recently read Dominique Moïsi's much-adooed book The geopolitics of emotion, I confess to be disappointed.

Granted, the book has an interesting premise: feelings drive globalization. Linking Asia with hope, Europe with fear and the Middle East with humiliation, the French author claims that sentimental factors - not rational considerations - can explain the dynamics of our world. Moïsi includes in his work a compelling plea for tolerance among cultures. But this cannot make up for the analytical rigor his book lacks.

Tentative "theories of everything" displease me. From game theory to Huntington's clash of civilizations, they have always upset me as wishful thinking at best and crude manipulation at worst. Can a single explanation really elucidate all human phenomena?

It is ultimately a matter of belief.

Alas, I am not a man of strong beliefs.

I never quite felt what Herr Freud called the oceanic feeling: a mystical sensation of appartenance. An awareness of one's smallness. A sense of wonder. To put it simply: faith.

Instead of trusting a solo reason, I'd rather be a solo thinker. The world's far too complex and life's way too short. To seek a universal logic behind everything - God, History or Reason - is to miss the point.

Just let life be.

- Thomaz Napoleão
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