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The Post-American World Hardcover – April 17, 2008

ISBN-13: 978-0393062359 ISBN-10: 9780393062359 Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; 1 edition (April 17, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780393062359
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393062359
  • ASIN: 039306235X
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.5 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (466 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #125,705 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Book Description
"This is not a book about the decline of America, but rather about the rise of everyone else." So begins Fareed Zakaria's important new work on the era we are now entering. Following on the success of his best-selling The Future of Freedom, Zakaria describes with equal prescience a world in which the United States will no longer dominate the global economy, orchestrate geopolitics, or overwhelm cultures. He sees the "rise of the rest"—the growth of countries like China, India, Brazil, Russia, and many others—as the great story of our time, and one that will reshape the world. The tallest buildings, biggest dams, largest-selling movies, and most advanced cell phones are all being built outside the United States. This economic growth is producing political confidence, national pride, and potentially international problems. How should the United States understand and thrive in this rapidly changing international climate? What does it mean to live in a truly global era? Zakaria answers these questions with his customary lucidity, insight, and imagination.


Thomas Friedman and Fareed Zakaria: Author One-to-One

Fareed Zakaria: Your book is about two things, the climate crisis and also about an American crisis. Why do you link the two?  Fareed Zakaria

Thomas Friedman: You're absolutely right--it is about two things. The book says, America has a problem and the world has a problem. The world's problem is that it's getting hot, flat and crowded and that convergence--that perfect storm--is driving a lot of negative trends. America's problem is that we've lost our way--we've lost our groove as a country. And the basic argument of the book is that we can solve our problem by taking the lead in solving the world's problem.

Zakaria: Explain what you mean by "hot, flat and crowded."

Friedman: There is a convergence of basically three large forces: one is global warming, which has been going on at a very slow pace since the industrial revolution; the second--what I call the flattening of the world--is a metaphor for the rise of middle-class citizens, from China to India to Brazil to Russia to Eastern Europe, who are beginning to consume like Americans. That's a blessing in so many ways--it's a blessing for global stability and for global growth. But it has enormous resource complications, if all these people--whom you've written about in your book, The Post American World--begin to consume like Americans. And lastly, global population growth simply refers to the steady growth of population in general, but at the same time the growth of more and more people able to live this middle-class lifestyle. Between now and 2020, the world's going to add another billion people. And their resource demands--at every level--are going to be enormous. I tell the story in the book how, if we give each one of the next billion people on the planet just one sixty-watt incandescent light bulb, what it will mean: the answer is that it will require about 20 new 500-megawatt coal-burning power plants. That's so they can each turn on just one light bulb!

Zakaria: In my book I talk about the "rise of the rest" and about the reality of how this rise of new powerful economic nations is completely changing the way the world works. Most everyone's efforts have been devoted to Kyoto-like solutions, with the idea of getting western countries to reduce their carbon dioxide emissions. But I grew to realize that the West was a sideshow. India and China will build hundreds of coal-fire power plants in the next ten years and the combined carbon dioxide emissions of those new plants alone are five times larger than the savings mandated by the Kyoto accords. What do you do with the Indias and Chinas of the world?

Thomas FriedmanFriedman: I think there are two approaches. There has to be more understanding of the basic unfairness they feel. They feel like we sat down, had the hors d'oeuvres, ate the entrée, pretty much finished off the dessert, invited them for tea and coffee and then said, "Let's split the bill." So I understand the big sense of unfairness--they feel that now that they have a chance to grow and reach with large numbers a whole new standard of living, we're basically telling them, "Your growth, and all the emissions it would add, is threatening the world's climate." At the same time, what I say to them--what I said to young Chinese most recently when I was just in China is this: Every time I come to China, young Chinese say to me, "Mr. Friedman, your country grew dirty for 150 years. Now it's our turn." And I say to them, "Yes, you're absolutely right, it's your turn. Grow as dirty as you want. Take your time. Because I think we probably just need about five years to invent all the new clean power technologies you're going to need as you choke to death, and we're going to come and sell them to you. And we're going to clean your clock in the next great global industry. So please, take your time. If you want to give us a five-year lead in the next great global industry, I will take five. If you want to give us ten, that would be even better. In other words, I know this is unfair, but I am here to tell you that in a world that's hot, flat and crowded, ET--energy technology--is going to be as big an industry as IT--information technology. Maybe even bigger. And who claims that industry--whose country and whose companies dominate that industry--I think is going to enjoy more national security, more economic security, more economic growth, a healthier population, and greater global respect, for that matter, as well. So you can sit back and say, it's not fair that we have to compete in this new industry, that we should get to grow dirty for a while, or you can do what you did in telecommunications, and that is try to leap-frog us. And that's really what I'm saying to them: this is a great economic opportunity. The game is still open. I want my country to win it--I'm not sure it will.

Zakaria: I'm struck by the point you make about energy technology. In my book I'm pretty optimistic about the United States. But the one area where I'm worried is actually ET. We do fantastically in biotech, we're doing fantastically in nanotechnology. But none of these new technologies have the kind of system-wide effect that information technology did. Energy does. If you want to find the next technological revolution you need to find an industry that transforms everything you do. Biotechnology affects one critical aspect of your day-to-day life, health, but not all of it. But energy--the consumption of energy--affects every human activity in the modern world. Now, my fear is that, of all the industries in the future, that's the one where we're not ahead of the pack. Are we going to run second in this race?

Friedman: Well, I want to ask you that, Fareed. Why do you think we haven't led this industry, which itself has huge technological implications? We have all the secret sauce, all the technological prowess, to lead this industry. Why do you think this is the one area--and it's enormous, it's actually going to dwarf all the others--where we haven't been at the real cutting edge?

Continue reading the Q&A between Thomas Friedman and Fareed Zakaria


From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. When a book proclaims that it is not about the decline of America but the rise of everyone else, readers might expect another diatribe about our dismal post-9/11 world. They are in for a pleasant surprise as Newsweek editor and popular pundit Zakaria (The Future of Freedom) delivers a stimulating, largely optimistic forecast of where the 21st century is heading. We are living in a peaceful era, he maintains; world violence peaked around 1990 and has plummeted to a record low. Burgeoning prosperity has spread to the developing world, raising standards of living in Brazil, India, China and Indonesia. Twenty years ago China discarded Soviet economics but not its politics, leading to a wildly effective, top-down, scorched-earth boom. Its political antithesis, India, also prospers while remaining a chaotic, inefficient democracy, as Indian elected officials are (generally) loathe to use the brutally efficient tactics that are the staple of Chinese governance. Paradoxically, India's greatest asset is its relative stability in the region; its officials take an unruly population for granted, while dissent produces paranoia in Chinese leaders. Zakaria predicts that despite its record of recent blunders at home and abroad, America will stay strong, buoyed by a stellar educational system and the influx of young immigrants, who give the U.S. a more youthful demographic than Europe and much of Asia whose workers support an increasing population of unproductive elderly. A lucid, thought-provoking appraisal of world affairs, this book will engage readers on both sides of the political spectrum. (May)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

More About the Author

Fareed Zakaria is the host of CNN's Fareed Zakaria GPS, best-selling author of The Post-American World and The Future of Freedom, and a columnist for the Washington Post. He lives in New York City.

Customer Reviews

Zakaria's accounts of China, India, and America are very interesting.
Roger Berlind
If you read the book carefully it is obvious that this is the opinion of the author and it is difficult to argue with the facts that he presents.
D. Blankenship
After reading this book, I think more people will conclude that we can't brag about how great we are anymore.
Vilady

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

698 of 759 people found the following review helpful By Eric F. Facer on April 28, 2008
Format: Audio CD
Mr. Zakaria has written a short primer (250+ pages of text) about where the world is today and the role he sees the United States playing in the future. His assessment, for the most part, is fair, balanced and nonpartisan. And though the title of his treatise--The Post-American World--sounds pessimistic, in reality Mr. Zakaria sees the glass half full.

The principal weakness of the book is a product of its brevity: the author paints in broad strokes, providing a sweeping assessment of the dynamic changes that have unfolded on the world scene over the past twenty-five years. This invariably results in some over-generalizations and assessments that are not sufficiently nuanced. For example, in responding to concerns about China's growing power and influence, he quotes several Chinese officials who repeatedly reassure the listener that, notwithstanding its recent advances, China still lags behind the United States in so many areas; consequently, it poses no real threat to America or its neighbors. Instead of taking these sentiments at face value, Mr. Zakaria should remember, as Margaret Macmillan astutely noted in her recent book, "Nixon and Mao: The Week That Changed the World," that the Chinese are the past masters at using self-effacement to lure their adversaries into a state of complacency.

The greatest strengths of the book are explaining to the reader how much the world has changed over the past 25 years (did you know that China now exports more goods and services in a single day than it did in all of 1978?), while illuminating the course corrections the United States needs to make so that it can continue to influence the evolution of globalization.
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73 of 77 people found the following review helpful By Book Shark TOP 500 REVIEWER on October 3, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The Post-American World: Release 2.0 by Fareed Zakaria

"The Post-American World" is the insightful book about world affairs and America's role. The author makes compelling arguments that it is the "rise of the rest" and not America's decline at the heart of this global era. This 336-page book is composed of the following seven chapters: 1. The Rise of the Rest, 2. The Cup Runneth Over, 3. A Non-Western World? 4. The Challenger, 5. The Ally, 6. American Power and 7. American Purpose.

Positives:
1. Well-written and well-researched book.
2. Accessible book for the masses.
3. A fascinating topic in the hands of a master.
4. An even-handed book. Mr. Zakaria is fair.
5. Engaging prose that offers countless anecdotes and interesting facts.
6. A lot of misconceptions put to rest: "Poverty is falling in countries housing 80 percent of the world's population". "War and organized violence have declined dramatically over the last two decades".
7. Economics in an enlightening manner, "It was not the Great Depression that brought the Nazis to power in Germany but rather hyperinflation, which destroyed the middle class by making its savings worthless".
8. The three forces that impact the global international environment: politics, economics, and technology.
9. The impact of global growth on natural resources and the environment.
10. Fascinating facts throughout the book,"from 2003 to 2020, the number of vehicles in China will rise from 26 million to 120 million". Wow.
11. Does a great job of explaining the various challenges facing the planet.
12. What the global economy has turned into...
13. National debt at the heart of our problem. $14 trillion...
14. Interesting history.
15. How our world is shrinking.
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280 of 328 people found the following review helpful By a reader on April 30, 2008
Format: Hardcover
A lot of books have been appearing recently about the rise of China and India, the decline of the United States, and so forth. This is the one to read, and the one that will last.

Zakaria's last book was about "The Future of Freedom," a study of liberalism and democracy. This new one--which is even better, I think--is about the shape of the emerging international system. It's called "The Post-American World," but a better title would have been the one he gives his first chapter, "The Rise of the Rest." That's because Zakaria's central thesis is that the world is changing, but the change is largely for the better and caused by the benign development of other power centers, not some collapse or decline of the United States. The biggest challenge for America, he argues, is not terrorism or nuclear proliferation or a rising China, but rather our own ability to adapt successfully to the new environment. He favors confidence and openness rather than insecurity and barriers, and makes a convincing case.

The book has chapters on each of the major international players, and they're really well done: amazingly, he manages to paint a full portrait of, say, China or India that is intelligent, succinct, subtle, and comprehensive all at once. If you want to get a flavor of what the book has to offer, there's an article based on it in the new issue of Foreign Affairs, and there should be another one coming out in Newsweek too, apparently. The man might be a superachieving bigshot, but he sure can write--each page is lively and interesting.

So forget the angry neocons, the wild-eyed optimists, the gloom-and-doom pessimists, and the glib amateurs who don't really know anything. Read this instead, and get insight into what's actually going in the world and what should be done about it. Plus, there's just a ton of fun little nuggets you'll be itching to drop in every conversation you have about anything related.
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