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The Ends of the Earth: A Journey at the Dawn of the 21st Century [Paperback]

Robert D. Kaplan
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Book Description

24 Jan 1997
Travels from West Africa, Egypt and Iran to Central Asia, India, Pakistan and Southeast Asia. This book offers a portrait of devasted parts of the world, where the author uses the individual experiences of people and his own personal position to shed light on the larger issues.

Product details

  • Paperback: 496 pages
  • Publisher: Papermac; 1st Papermac Edition edition (24 Jan 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0333642554
  • ISBN-13: 978-0333642559
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 13 x 3.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,030,938 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Good Use of Reading Time 29 April 1999
By A Customer
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.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent travel memoir/social study 27 Jan 2011
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Kaplan has delivered his usual style and analysis to a rather random collection of travel memoirs. While not as coherent or as unified as its predecessor Balkan Ghosts, or later writings, Ends of the Earth has the underlying theme of population growth, its causes and effects. While written over ten years ago, most of the underlying trends and themes explored within this work are entirely relevant to the present.
More of a travel memoir, rather than a political analysis, Ends of the Earth is an enjoyable read, whether taken as a travel memoir or a social study.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.1 out of 5 stars  11 reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Admiration in despite of "malthusian" pessimism 18 Jan 1998
By A Customer - Published on
I want to express my deeper admiration to this work, that I consider extremely clarifying on the situation of the Third World. Perhaps the theory will be excessively "malthusian" and, as such, pessimistic, but when procures be released of that prophetic determinism, Kaplan provides explanations that can not be rejected beforehand . Joaquín Collado (Spain)
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars important book 21 Feb 2002
By Neel Aroon - Published on
Robert Kaplan writes about his experiences traveling abroad from africa to cambodia discussing things like the region's historys and economies. The book provides an interesting comparision among different improvished regions of the world. Reading this book provides a better understanding of the third world.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A travel guide in the tradition of Dante! 28 Dec 1996
By A Customer - Published on
Kaplan leads us along civilizations' San Andreas fault. Here are the places where upheavals, fissures, explosions and social destruction are likley to occur. Kaplan is a travel writer in the same way that Dr. Stranglove is a physics teacher. He sets out to write a travel document that serves as "shock therapy" and succeeds admirably. His analysis of the ethnic stew that is Central Asia is helful to the general reader who wants to understand the political implications of the break-up of the Soviet Union
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Vividly portrays what we would have to face in the future. 25 Aug 1996
By A Customer - Published on
Another solid book by Kaplan. I'm not trying to push
additional business to you but I really think
it will be illuminating to read this book together with Jim
Rogers' Investment Biker and V. S. Naipaul's India: a
Million Mutinies Now. Kaplan's point that increasing
parts of the world will gradually devolve into non-nation
statehood as maps get redrawn and tribal and/or racial
antagonisms suppressed by the nation state reappears, is a
distubring but nevertheless real one. I recommend
Investment Biker because Kaplan's journey takes place
several years after Rogers', and the reader can check for
himself that the devolution has progressed rather than
arrested during the ensuing time. Naipaul's India, on the
other hand, with its parallels to Kaplan's portrayal of
Pakistan provides a more on-the-spot and intimate survey
of such a devolution happening. The devolution in India,
of course, is much more controlled than that in parts of
the world that Kaplan has written in this book. I have to
say though that towards the end of the book, Kaplan does
seem to run out of steam -- travel fatigue?
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Moments of surprising sunshine 10 Jun 1997
By A Customer - Published on
I love Kaplan's writing and sense of adventure. He makes travel seem so unappealing. The surprise for me was his sunny portrait of Iran. Reading this book when a did, a few weeks ago, prepared me for the recent Iranian elections in which moderates gained power. I now am able to look below the veil of the Iranian women and understand that, even though their public lives may seem constrained, their private lives may be quite rich. Kaplan's my favorite travel writer: I read him after finishing Jan Morris's tedious "Hong Kong", and the difference is stark
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