99 of 108 people found the following review helpful
Almost as thought-provoking as "Clash of Civilizations",
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This review is from: The Revenge of Geography: What the Map Tells Us About Coming Conflicts and the Battle Against Fate (Kindle Edition)
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. A previous reviewer has pointed out that Kaplan tends to approach his subject in an eclectic manner and digress from his theme, but (while I don't agree with all of Kaplan's assertions) I consider this a strength rather than a weakness - if the number of 'clippings' I have made in my Kindle editions of unconventional or little-known observations to research and think about later is any guide, there is a lot here to interest the reader, provoke thought and look at the previously familiar from a slightly different perspective.
The final section of the book deals with Kaplan's assessment of the future prospects of the USA and the wider North/Central Americas - while Kaplan draws upon the views of Samuel P. Huntington's Who Are We?: The Challenges to America's National Identity to illustrate the way demography is likely to change the USA's sense of identity and role in the world, he is (while noting some real risks) far more optimistic and paints an interesting picture of a vibrant North/Central American community with a slightly reduced but still pivotal - and positive - role in the world. His perspective on this issue is one I had not considered in this way before and I will be very interested to see the views of US, Mexican and other Central American/Caribbean readers.
Overall, "The Revenge of Geography" offers an approachable, thought-provoking read that offers some interesting and unconventional - and largely optimistic - perspectives on the world we live in. While I doubt that every reader will agree with all of Kaplan's observations and arguments, this is a distinctly original look at our world and a book I highly recommend.
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Showing 1-3 of 3 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jan 27, 2013 1:23:18 AM PST
Anshuman Arun says:
"..and the 18th Century mutiny of Indian troops against British Colonialists." The mutiny or the first war of independence occured in the 19th century and not 18th. It happened in 1857, to be precise.
In reply to an earlier post on Feb 18, 2013 11:23:49 PM PST
Peter Monks says:
Was this comment made about the correct review? I'm not sure if you are correcting my review (where I made no reference to the Indian Mutiny) or an error in the book?
Posted on Dec 8, 2013 7:14:29 AM PST
" Using a very broad definition of geography to include a lot of what might otherwise be called social science, ..."
With reference to the above quote; Geography is very much a social science.
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