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The Second World: Empires and Influence in the New Global Order [Hardcover]

Parag Khanna
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (51 customer reviews)


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Book Description

March 4, 2008 1400065089 978-1400065080 1
Grand explanations of how to understand the complex twenty-first-century world have all fallen short–until now. In The Second World, the brilliant young scholar Parag Khanna takes readers on a thrilling global tour, one that shows how America’s dominant moment has been suddenly replaced by a geopolitical marketplace wherein the European Union and China compete with the United States to shape world order on their own terms.

This contest is hottest and most decisive in the Second World: pivotal regions in Eastern Europe, Central Asia, Latin America, the Middle East, and East Asia. Khanna explores the evolution of geopolitics through the recent histories of such underreported, fascinating, and complicated countries as Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan, Colombia, Libya, Vietnam, and Malaysia–nations whose resources will ultimately determine the fate of the three superpowers, but whose futures are perennially uncertain as they struggle to rise into the first world or avoid falling into the third.

Informed, witty, and armed with a traveler’s intuition for blending into diverse cultures, Khanna mixes copious research with deep reportage to remake the map of the world. He depicts second-world societies from the inside out, observing how globalization divides them into winners and losers along political, economic, and cultural lines–and shows how China, Europe, and America use their unique imperial gravities to pull the second-world countries into their orbits. Along the way, Khanna also explains how Arabism and Islamism compete for the Arab soul, reveals how Iran and Saudi Arabia play the superpowers against one another, unmasks Singapore’s inspirational role in East Asia, and psychoanalyzes the second-world leaders whose decisions are reshaping the balance of power. He captures the most elusive formula in international affairs: how to think like a country.

In the twenty-first century, globalization is the main battlefield of geopolitics, and America itself runs the risk of descending into the second world if it does not renew itself and redefine its role in the world.

Comparable in scope and boldness to Francis Fukuyama’s The End of History and the Last Man and Samuel P. Huntington’s The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order, Parag Khanna’s The Second World will be the definitive guide to world politics for years to come.

“A savvy, streetwise primer on dozens of individual countries that adds up to a coherent theory of global politics.”
–Robert D. Kaplan, author of Eastward to Tartary and Warrior Politics

“A panoramic overview that boldly addresses the dilemmas of the world that our next president will confront.”
–Dr. Zbigniew Brzezinski, former national security advisor

"Parag Khanna's fascinating book takes us on an epic journey around the multipolar world, elegantly combining historical analysis, political theory, and eye-witness reports to shed light on the battle for primacy between the world's new empires."
–Mark Leonard, Executive Director, European Council on Foreign Relations

"Khanna, a widely recognized expert on global politics, offers an study of the 21st century's emerging "geopolitical marketplace" dominated by three "first world" superpowers, the U.S., Europe and China... The final pages of his book warn eloquently of the risks of imperial overstretch combined with declining economic dominance and deteriorating quality of life. By themselves those pages are worth the price of a book that from beginning to end inspires reflection."
–Publishers Weekly


Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Khanna, a widely recognized expert on global politics, offers an study of the 21st century's emerging geopolitical marketplace dominated by three first world superpowers, the U.S., Europe and China. Each competes to lead the new century, pursuing that goal in the third world: select eastern European countries, east and central Asia, the Middle East Latin America, and North Africa. The U.S. offers military protection and aid. Europe offers deep reform and economic association. China offers full-service, condition-free relationships. Each can be appealing; none has obvious advantages. The key to Khanna's analysis, however, is his depiction of a second world: countries in transition. They range in size and population from heavily peopled states like Brazil and Indonesia to smaller ones such as Malaysia. Khanna interprets the coming years as being shaped by the race to win the second world—and in the case of the U.S., to avoid becoming a second-world country itself. The final pages of his book warn eloquently of the risks of imperial overstretch combined with declining economic dominance and deteriorating quality of life. By themselves those pages are worth the price of a book that from beginning to end inspires reflection. (Mar. 11)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review

“A fascinating, colorful, and always intelligent tour through a new world.”
–Fareed Zakaria

“A savvy, streetwise primer on dozens of individual countries that adds up to a coherent theory of global politics.”
–Robert D. Kaplan

“Confident in his predictions and bold in his recommendations . . . Khanna’s book is written with ambition, scope, and verve that sets it apart from the usual foreign policy tome.”
–Andrei Cherny, The New York Sun

“A panoramic overview that boldly addresses the dilemmas of the world that our next president will confront.”
–Zbigniew Brzezinski

“Khanna is something of a foreign policy whiz kid.”
–Raymond Bonner, The New York Times Book Review

“[A] sweeping, often audacious survey of contemporary geopolitics . . . moves at lightning speed.”
–William Grimes, The New York Times


From the Trade Paperback edition.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 496 pages
  • Publisher: Random House; 1 edition (March 4, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400065089
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400065080
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 6.4 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (51 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,067,838 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
57 of 62 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What about India? March 6, 2008
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is the book I have been waiting years for - it is the clearest picture I have yet seen of the 21st century's nascent Great Game; the Game as played by three Great Powers with very different styles: the United States, the European Union, and China. Khanna has developed an original view of a tripolar world, and effectively balances the force of geopolitics with the complementary trend toward globalisation.

The book has several persistent and gnawing weaknesses. Khanna persistently focuses on traditional land power geopolitics, an easier thing to describe and a well trodden path in International Studies, but perhaps an increasingly less potent matrix with the emergence of new realms of competition in this century: low Earth orbit (mentioned briefly in one paragraph of the book); the emerging Internet culture and electronic world; enduring naval power and new oceanographic frontiers; the growing diasporas and transnational, nomadic elites who owe no geographical national allegiance. In particular, he who rules lower Earth orbit rules the planet, regardless of who predominates upon the "World-Island" of Eurasia.

The author, like many intelligent NRI Indians, seems disillusioned by the failure of Indian democracy to overcome poverty and wealth disparity on the subcontinent (at one point stating, "It could be argued that China is a freer country than democratic India", ignoring some obvious differences in number of political prisoners, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, free access to the Internet . . . ).
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28 of 29 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Geopolitical Marketplace April 26, 2008
Format:Hardcover
Parag Khanna of the New America Foundation draws his inspiration from Arnold Toynbee's 12-volume history of the world. Toynbee wrote his books first, and then embarked on a trip around the world to check the acurracy of his work. Khanna, however, did it the other way around: he spent two years travelling to forty countries, talking to people and getting a first-hand look at the facts on the ground, then writing this book. The result makes this volume a very pleasurable read, mixing policy recommendations, historical analysis, and traveller's eye for local color.

Khanna argues that there will be three superpowers in the 21st century - China, the European Union, and the United States. He sometimes calls them empires as in the subtitle of the book, but that term is confusing since the Big Three will not resemble the empires of old. These superpowers will have their own unique approach for extending their power and influence. The main objectives of the Big Three are essentially the same: they want to be in the good graces of energy- and resource-rich second-tier countries such as those of the Middle East, Central Asia, Africa, and Latin America. Khanna calls this the second world. And as more and more countries become nuclear, military muscle becomes less of a tool. The superpowers are developing non-military means to win allies and influence. According to Khanna, winning in the 21st century will not take place in the battlefield but in the geopolitical marketplace.

Of the three, Khanna finds the European model the most attractive. The European practice of offering the prospect of membership in the world's richest market is a very powerful incentive for countries to reform themselves and comply with EU standards.
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39 of 51 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Tour of the world in concise but precise terms March 30, 2008
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is an extraordinary book, a tour of the "real" world where the future is being defined. While I respect the reviewer's that have difficulty with inaccuracies or inconsistencies, on balance, in all of my reading as reviewed on Amazon, I would rate this one of the top 20 books, perhaps even one of the top 10 (let's go with that, making it one of the top 10 on reality, while my other "top ten" would encompass world changing, social entrepreneurship, the Tao of democracy and other solution-oriented writings).

My notes must of necessity be cryptic. I will start with the bottom line and urge the Amazon reader to take my notes as a strong incentive to buy and read the book cover to cover.

Bottom line: US has screwed up big time, and is taking third place to China's achievement of globalization on its terms, using consultation, incentives, and efficient/effective agreements to propel itself past Europe, which has consensus model that has displaced the US but cannot compete with China's global juggernaut. The US is gently tarred with confusing "security" for prosperity or legitimacy, with preferring single-party strong-arm partners, and with being generally clumsy, inept, ignorant, and hence losing on all fronts.

+ Second World is internally divided between rich and poor sectors

+ Second World is the tipping point domain that will determine the tri-polar (China, Europe, US) outcome

+ Author covers five regions 1) east of Europe including Russia and Turkey; 2) Central Asia; 3) South America with little attention to Caribbean; 4) Middle East; and 5) Asia and the 4 Chinas.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars Facile Treatment of Important Regions/Countries
What do you say about a book that's wrong in every possible detail, every single one of its conclusions, and appears to have been "researched" by the author staying (in a 5... Read more
Published 5 months ago by Amazon Customer
4.0 out of 5 stars An eye-opener--should be required reading
It amazes me how much one person can know about so many countries. Khanna shoots around the world to give you insights in the developing countries or ‘Second World. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Darcy Hitchcock
4.0 out of 5 stars What individuals say and decide matters.
Is a good investigating & documentary work in presenting that

It is an interesting investigation & documentary work. Read more
Published 12 months ago by Ivonne Praun de Suárez
2.0 out of 5 stars One more for the road
If you are the type of person who likes to read headlines and think you know what's going on in the world this book is for you! Read more
Published 21 months ago by C.D. Carney
4.0 out of 5 stars Geopolitics vs. Globalization
Geopolitics vs. globalization. Now that's an interesting juxtaposition and it's at the heart of the book The Second World: How Emerging Powers Are Redefining Competition in the... Read more
Published on July 26, 2011 by J. I. Uitto
1.0 out of 5 stars Khanna's delusion
Khanna's main theory: the EU and China are taking over the World and the US is falling off the First World. For him, most everything the EU and China do is great. Read more
Published on July 14, 2011 by Gaetan Lion
2.0 out of 5 stars What is the Second World?
The defined emerging powers make up the second world? It is definitely armed with a
traveler's intuition for superficial analysis, psychoanalyzing selected leaders for... Read more
Published on August 6, 2010 by catire
3.0 out of 5 stars Necessary read for all political science majors.
The book is well written. I think many will probably not agree with all of Mr. Khanna's assertions. Read more
Published on July 23, 2010 by P. Nieves
1.0 out of 5 stars Fanciful and moralistic, very opposite to geopolitics
Mr. Khanna a geo-strategist manqué, a globe-trotting "international relation expert" has written a compilation of US foreign policy delusions of the last two decades. Read more
Published on June 24, 2010 by Igor Biryukov
4.0 out of 5 stars An Entertaining Read, but Sometimes Gets Ahead of Itself
Even though this book was published in 2009(the paperback edition), it is already somewhat out of date. Read more
Published on May 31, 2010 by Laurence Zimmerman
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