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The Revenge of Geography: What the Map Tells Us About Coming Conflicts and the Battle Against Fate Hardcover – September 11, 2012

3.9 out of 5 stars 288 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“[An] ambitious and challenging new book . . . [The Revenge of Geography] displays a formidable grasp of contemporary world politics and serves as a powerful reminder that it has been the planet’s geophysical configurations, as much as the flow of competing religions and ideologies, that have shaped human conflicts, past and present.”—Malise Ruthven, The New York Review of Books
 
“Robert D. Kaplan, the world-traveling reporter and intellectual whose fourteen books constitute a bedrock of penetrating exposition and analysis on the post-Cold War world . . . strips away much of the cant that suffuses public discourse these days on global developments and gets to a fundamental reality: that geography remains today, as it has been throughout history, one of the most powerful drivers of world events.”—The National Interest
 
“Kaplan plunges into a planetary review that is often thrilling in its sheer scale . . . encyclopedic.”—The New Yorker
 
“[The Revenge of Geography] serves the facts straight up. . . . Kaplan’s realism and willingness to face hard facts make The Revenge of Geography a valuable antidote to the feel-good manifestoes that often masquerade as strategic thought.”—The Daily Beast
 
“[A] remarkable new book . . . With such books as Balkan Ghosts and Monsoon, Kaplan, an observer of world events who sees what others often do not, has already established himself as one of the most discerning geopolitical writers of our time. The Revenge of Geography cements his status.”—National Review

About the Author

Robert D. Kaplan is the bestselling author of sixteen books on foreign affairs and travel translated into many languages, including Asia’s Cauldron, The Revenge of Geography, Monsoon, The Coming Anarchy, and Balkan Ghosts. He is a senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security and a contributing editor at The Atlantic, where his work has appeared for three decades. He was chief geopolitical analyst at Stratfor, a visiting professor at the United States Naval Academy, and a member of the Pentagon’s Defense Policy Board. Foreign Policy magazine has twice named him one of the world’s Top 100 Global Thinkers.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Random House; 1st edition (September 11, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400069831
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400069835
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.2 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (288 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #86,356 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I read this book from two perspectives. First, decades ago, I was given a copy of the Air Force War College's textbook on geography as a basis for global military strategy and therefore became familiar at an early age with some of the concepts this book explores. Secondly, my family is bi-national American/Colombian, with family and businesses in both countries, and therefore is attuned with author Robert Kaplan's future vision of the USA evolving to become the center of an Anglo-Hispanic "supra-state."

Although this book is supposedly focused in on the influence of geography in making and breaking nations, it is actually what we used to call "Social Studies" --- a combined analysis of all the factors of geography, demographics, history, economics, and politics that go into constituting a nation state.

PART III. AMERICA'S DESTINY is the 25% of the book that most interested me. The other 75% is just OK, because it is an agglomeration of themes that students of world history and current events will probably already be familiar with. I didn't care for the lack of focus among so many topics. The chapter on Mexico starts with a rambling history of the Roman Empire followed up by a digression into our wars in Iran and Afghanistan, the history of China, India, Venice and the 18th Century mutiny of Indian troops against British Colonialists. However, those who aren't already familiar with these topics of World History 101 and are looking for the widest possible introduction to the geography, demographics, history, economics, politics, and current events in all parts of the world may enjoy Kaplan's "stream of consciousness" approach.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Unlike most of Kaplan's earlier work (examples include Surrender or Starve: Travels in Ethiopia, Sudan, Somalia, and Eritrea or Soldiers of God: With Islamic Warriors in Afghanistan and Pakistan (Vintage Departures)) which relied on Kaplan's first-hand impressions and a lot of 'man in the street' perspectives, "The Revenge of Geography" takes a relatively detached and scholarly approach to illustrating Kaplan's view of the world we live in. Using a very broad definition of geography to include a lot of what might otherwise be called social science, Kaplan seeks to describe real constraints on how nations and populations can and will act in order to chart a middle course between an overly idealistic liberal internationalism (or its close cousin, neoconservatism) or an excessively pessimistic and ethnically/geographically deterministic IR realism. The net effect is an attempt to, as he approvingly quotes Braudel, make us more aware of our limits in order to have "more power to affect outcomes within them".

Divided into three parts, the first draws upon a range of mainly western thinkers (including Mackinder, Braudel, Spengler and Mahan) to explain various IR streams of thought with particular reference to the impact and constraints of (broadly defined) geography, while the second focuses on the history, geography and constraints of six key regions or powers (Europe, Russia, China, India, Iran and Turkey) and surrounding nations.
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Format: Hardcover
Though I've read other Kaplan books, I cannot recommend this one.
It's not clear what his intention was in moving to this slogging, plodding, at times incomprehensible writing style. It's also not clear what this book is supposed to be: is it history, geography, philosophy, political commentary, or simply (actually acutely, painfully, mind-numbing) his attempt to be all of the above in some fanciful mishmash of subject and style. Whatever his intention, the result is the worst I've experienced; and I've had my share of literary slogging. Where was his editor??
Through sheer force of will I sat down each day to plow through another chapter, finding each paragraph filled with unnecessary literary devices that added nothing to the subject, parsing sentences to try to discern his meaning (sometimes failing in frustration), shaking my in head in disbelief that I was spending more time unscrambling his writing than studying the subject. The book is more like a long research paper: collections of other historians' writings that are cut and pasted into narrative paragraphs. There is no new information, just a rephrasing of previous writings. Look at some maps, look in your college history book, and listen to the news: you'll know what's in this book. Throughout he references the writings of Mackinder, Morgenthau, Mahan, Spykman and numerous other historians, and even quotes other writers who have previously referred to those same historians. Historians quoting each other: quite the academic enterprise.
A personal nit I have with Kaplan's style is that he falls for one of the cheap, pedantic devices of turning a proper noun into an adjective; for example, he could refer to his own work as Kaplanesque.
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