Although Kaplan attempts to style this dense book as a semi-linear travel narrative, it is actually more of an heavily footnoted eyewitness account of the dramatic transitions occurring in various developing regions. Chock full of provocative and disturbing ideas culled from many social sciences, the book starts with a largely pessimistic 89 pages of West Africa and 37 pages of Egypt. I didn't find anything particularly new or illuminating in these two sections, but they serve as a good introduction to the issues if you aren't familiar with what's happening there, although recent events somewhat date his account of West Africa in particular. It didn't take me long to get fed up with Kaplan's machine gun use of statistics to support his observations. That, and his tendency to repeat himself, undermine his attempts at literary narrative. Fortunately, I came to a deeply engrossing 45 pages of Turkey and the Caucuses, 70 pages of Iran, and 96 pages of Central Asia. These three sections were what made the book for me, even readers already familiar with the areas will find value in Kaplan's account. It was here that Kaplan seemed most comfortable and most knowledgeable. Lots of great info about the ethnic dynamics of the areas and great historical tidbits make these worth interesting even if you don't read the sections before or after. What follows is a sporadically interesting 100 pages on the Indian subcontinent and "Indochina." The book is greatly aided by its maps, and Kaplan is careful to acknowledge the sources of the ideas he presents. There is also an excellent bibliography for those interested in followup reading. The great value in this book lies in Kaplan's insistence (correct in my belief) that population growth is the single most destabilizing force in the world today and that it must be addressed before all else.