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The Revenge of Geography: What the Map Tells Us about Coming Conflicts and the Battle Against Fate [Hardcover]

Robert D. Kaplan
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
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Book Description

20 Oct 2012
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.
 
In The Revenge of Geography, Kaplan builds on the insights, discoveries, and theories of great geographers and geopolitical thinkers of the near 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. The Russian steppe’s pitiless climate and limited vegetation bred hard and cruel men bent on destruction, for example, while Nazi geopoliticians distorted geopolitics entirely, calculating that space on the globe used by the British Empire and the Soviet Union could be swallowed by a greater German homeland.
 
Kaplan 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. Remarkably, the future can be understood in the context of temperature, land allotment, and other physical certainties: China, able to feed only 23 percent of its people from land that is only 7 percent arable, has sought energy, minerals, and metals from such brutal regimes as Burma, Iran, and Zimbabwe, putting it in moral conflict with the United States. Afghanistan’s porous borders will keep it the principal invasion route into India, and a vital rear base for Pakistan, India’s main enemy. Iran will exploit the advantage of being the only country that straddles both energy-producing areas of the Persian Gulf and the Caspian Sea. Finally, Kaplan posits that the United States might rue engaging in far-flung conflicts with Iraq and Afghanistan rather than tending to its direct neighbor Mexico, which is on the verge of becoming a semifailed state due to drug cartel carnage.
 
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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Product details

  • Hardcover: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Random House International (20 Oct 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400069831
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400069835
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 9.2 x 1.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 23,999 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
After reading this very stimulating and though provoking book I felt that I had rediscovered so much of history - how geography conditions human actions and it has got me thinking about how geography will lead to revived and new tensions and conflicts. Very timely.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The importance of this book cannot be overstated 15 Oct 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This may indeed be Kaplan's most important piece of work yet, and that is not in any way to detract from his previous writings. Kaplan has a unique writing style, combining history with personal travel experience to create the impression that one is living the historical journey, however, with this work, Kaplan has created a work that could enter the shelves of essential reading within political science.
It is a bold work, and perhaps the toughest read yet from Kaplan, but it delivers in what it sets out to do, which is to elevate the reality of geography to the importance of other factors within the interactions between nations, such as military and economic power, civilization background and ideology.
The first part of the book is essentially a review of a body of work by 19th century theorists whose work is largely neglected in the present day. This can become tiring at time, but eventually, after laying down a clear theoretical framework, Kaplan takes us on a tour of present areas of strategic significance, and explains how geography will essentially be the determining factor in the world that is to come.
Anyone familiar with Kaplan's previous writings in Foreign Affairs will be aware of how he lays out the ultimate reaches of Chinese power, through both population expansion, economic investment, trade, and a map that is ultimately suited for Chinese domination. This mode of analysis is applied to various other locations, including Turkey, the Middle East, and the Indian Subcontinent.
Kaplan is in some ways a great disturber, as he brings to the fore the notion of borders which make no geographic sense, such as that between India and Pakistan, and the Afghan-Pakistan border. One really does get the sense that geography is the great decider.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Kaplan book is perhaps an attempt to get people all caught up in the wonders of the globalized world to take into consideration the importance in geography in shaping political behavior. In this he return to the tradition of Montesquieu and Aristotle who also would argue that geography is perhaps a very key factor is shaping the political behavior of the people or a nation. This is a good ballance to more economic and behavioralist theories of international political behavior that IR students get in their standard IR theory course.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly Recommended 14 Dec 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
If you've read Robt. Kaplan previously you will recognise the readable prose, the inquiring traveller's search for deeper meaning and intent. Here he describes the study, theories and epistemology of geography In ways that astounded me ~ geography becomes a distantly subtitle yet determinative instrument shaping human conduct and our cultural and social histories; in a manner it is the id of history. Far more theoretical than "Balken Ghosts" yet you may be fascinated how well "Geography" reads alongside and illuminates much of Mr. Kaplan's extensive work. Highly recommended.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A dish better eaten cold ... 26 July 2013
By BruTam
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Good to see Geography as the central focus of a contemporary overview about real world issues, but I don't think the perspective is as startling as the title indicates. Loved the broad brush overview of international analysis and landscape description. Good for the discipline.
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