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The Revenge of Geography
Cover of The Revenge of Geography
The Revenge of Geography
What the Map Tells Us About Coming Conflicts and the Battle Against Fate
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NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
  • In this provocative, startling book, Robert D. Kaplan, the bestselling author of Monsoon and Balkan Ghosts, offers a revelatory new prism through which to view global upheavals and to understand what lies ahead for continents and countries around the world.
    Bestselling author Robert D. Kaplan builds on the insights, discoveries, and theories of great geographers and geopolitical thinkers of the recent and distant past to look back at critical pivots in history and then to look forward at the evolving global scene. Kaplan traces the history of the world's hot spots by examining their climates, topographies, and proximities to other embattled lands. He then applies the lessons learned to the present crises in Europe, Russia, China, the Indian Subcontinent, Turkey, Iran, and the Arab Middle East. The result is a holistic interpretation of the next cycle of conflict throughout Eurasia, a visionary glimpse into a future that can be understood only in the context of temperature, land allotment, and other physical certainties. A brilliant rebuttal to thinkers who suggest that globalism will trump geography, this indispensable work shows how timeless truths and natural facts can help prevent this century's looming cataclysms.

    Praise for The Revenge of Geography

    "[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
  • NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
  • In this provocative, startling book, Robert D. Kaplan, the bestselling author of Monsoon and Balkan Ghosts, offers a revelatory new prism through which to view global upheavals and to understand what lies ahead for continents and countries around the world.
    Bestselling author Robert D. Kaplan builds on the insights, discoveries, and theories of great geographers and geopolitical thinkers of the recent and distant past to look back at critical pivots in history and then to look forward at the evolving global scene. Kaplan traces the history of the world's hot spots by examining their climates, topographies, and proximities to other embattled lands. He then applies the lessons learned to the present crises in Europe, Russia, China, the Indian Subcontinent, Turkey, Iran, and the Arab Middle East. The result is a holistic interpretation of the next cycle of conflict throughout Eurasia, a visionary glimpse into a future that can be understood only in the context of temperature, land allotment, and other physical certainties. A brilliant rebuttal to thinkers who suggest that globalism will trump geography, this indispensable work shows how timeless truths and natural facts can help prevent this century's looming cataclysms.

    Praise for The Revenge of Geography

    "[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
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    Excerpts-
    • Chapter One

      Kaplan / REVENGE GEOGRAPHY

      Chapter I

      FROM BOSNIA TO BAGHDAD

      To recover our sense of geography, we first must fix the moment in recent history when we most profoundly lost it, explain why we lost it, and elucidate how that affected our assumptions about the world. Of course, such a loss is gradual. But the moment I have isolated, when that loss seemed most acute, was immediately after the collapse of the Berlin Wall. Though an artificial border whose crumbling should have enhanced our respect for geography and the relief map--­and what that map might have foreshadowed in the adjacent Balkans and the Middle East--­the Berlin Wall's erasure made us blind to the real geographical impediments that still divided us, and still awaited us.

      For suddenly we were in a world in which the dismantling of a man-­made boundary in Germany had led to the assumption that all human divisions were surmountable; that democracy would conquer Africa and the Middle East as easily as it had Eastern Europe; that globalization--­soon to become a buzzword--­was nothing less than a moral direction of history and a system of international security, rather than what it actually was, merely an economic and cultural stage of development. Consider: a totalitarian ideology had just been vanquished, even as domestic security in the United States and Western Europe was being taken for granted. The semblance of peace reigned generally. Presciently capturing the zeitgeist, a former deputy director of the U.S. State Department's Policy Planning Staff, Francis Fukuyama, published an article a few months before the fall of the Berlin Wall, "The End of History," proclaiming that while wars and rebellions would continue, history in a Hegelian sense was over now, since the success of capitalist liberal democracies had ended the argument over which system of government was best for humankind.1 Thus, it was just a matter of shaping the world more in our own image, sometimes through the deployment of American troops; deployments that in the 1990s would exact relatively little penalty. This, the first intellectual cycle of the Post Cold War, was an era of illusions. It was a time when the words "realist" and "pragmatist" were considered pejoratives, signifying an aversion to humanitarian intervention in places where the national interest, as conventionally and narrowly defined, seemed elusive. Better in those days to be a neoconservative or liberal internationalist, who were thought of as good, smart people who simply wanted to stop genocide in the Balkans.

      Such a burst of idealism in the United States was not unprecedented. Victory in World War I had unfurled the banner of "Wilsonianism," a notion associated with President Woodrow Wilson that, as it would turn out, took little account of the real goals of America's European allies and even less account of the realities of the Balkans and the Near East, where, as events in the 1920s would show, democracy and freedom from the imperial overlordship of the Ottoman Turks meant mainly heightened ethnic awareness of a narrow sort in the individual parts of the old sultanate. It was a similar phenomenon that followed the West's victory in the Cold War, which many believed would simply bring freedom and prosperity under the banners of "democracy" and "free markets." Many suggested that even Africa, the poorest and least stable continent, further burdened with the world's most artificial and illogical borders, might also be on the brink of a democratic revolution; as if the collapse of the Soviet Empire in the heart of Europe held supreme meaning for the world's least developed nations, separated by sea and desert thousands of...

    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.

    Reviews-
    • Publisher's Weekly

      May 28, 2012
      Geography is destiny, sort of, according to this overwrought map exercise. Journalist Kaplan (Balkan Ghosts) unearths and updates musty Edwardian treatises on the strategic importance of the Eurasian “Heartland” (roughly, the Soviet empire) and the surrounding “Rimland” of Europe, the Middle East, India, and China. His survey of these regions, strewn with diverting but feckless snippets of history, cultural lore, and economics, yields a “geographical” analysis that’s mainly a jumble of empty rotational metaphors; we learn that North Korea is “the true pivot of East Asia,” that “India is the global pivot state of the 21st century,” that Afghanistan could become “the hub... of Eurasia in general,” and that “the Iranian pivot” is “the Middle East’s very own universal joint.” Disputing blithe world-is-flat neoliberalism, Kaplan’s pitiless “realism” asserts that, as in ages past, geography will spawn territorial conflict, but he has no insights into who will fight where or why, just Malthusian pessimism, banal prognostications—China’s growing navy will rub against America’s and India’s—and vague geostrategic musings. (“Turkey,” he pronounces, “...along with Iran, has the capacity to neutralize the Arab Fertile Crescent.”) The result is an unconvincing reprise of an obsolete worldview. Agent: Carl Brandt, Brandt & Hochman Literary Agency.

    • The Daily Beast "[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."
    • National Review "[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."
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    What the Map Tells Us About Coming Conflicts and the Battle Against Fate
    Robert D. Kaplan
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