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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Audacity of Hope
It's not unsurprising that this book was a bestseller in the United States. This book postulates the shape of the 21st century and just what might happen. In 13 chapters, the author presents his opinion that this is the age of America. The war on terrorism: a counterfuge to stop the emergence of an Islamic superpower. The growth of China: a myth that will all fall apart...
Published on 30 Mar 2010 by Ed Foye

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49 of 56 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Big disappointment!
Friedman totally misses the point by contradicting his own opening statements about "identifying long-term underlying trends". He bases the whole book on misguided assumptions and geo-politics. Alvin Toffler pointed out 20 years ago that geo-politics is on the way out...
The real "long-term underlying trends" are not about "dominating sea-trade"! And they are not...
Published on 6 Jan 2010 by F. L. P. Souza


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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Audacity of Hope, 30 Mar 2010
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It's not unsurprising that this book was a bestseller in the United States. This book postulates the shape of the 21st century and just what might happen. In 13 chapters, the author presents his opinion that this is the age of America. The war on terrorism: a counterfuge to stop the emergence of an Islamic superpower. The growth of China: a myth that will all fall apart very soon due to the inherent divisions and instability of the country. A United States of Europe: another myth- instead Poland will become a strong regional power whilst Germany fragments. Turkey: a potential powerhouse that will try to and fail to take over Europe and be severely punished as a result.

The thoughts of Friedman are probably wrong. Certainly they present a rosy view of the future for Americans- and who doesn't want to believe it. Yet for all its shortcomings, this book is no modern Nostradamus. Instead the text is easy to read and very entertaining and even if his predictions are far from accurate they at least will give the reader food for thought.
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49 of 56 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Big disappointment!, 6 Jan 2010
By 
F. L. P. Souza (Amstelveen, The Netherlands) - See all my reviews
Friedman totally misses the point by contradicting his own opening statements about "identifying long-term underlying trends". He bases the whole book on misguided assumptions and geo-politics. Alvin Toffler pointed out 20 years ago that geo-politics is on the way out...
The real "long-term underlying trends" are not about "dominating sea-trade"! And they are not about waging wars. Friedman thinks that "unconventional wars" are about shooting it out in spaceships. That is "Flash Gordon thinking", not forecasting...
Unconventional wars are actually about guerilla warfare, terrorism, inciting civil unrest, hacking computers. Looking into the next 100 years, the real questions are about how will countries try to exert influence over one another? How will economic disputes be resolved? Will missile threats be replaced by cyber-threats? Or by an attack on a country's currency? What about biological threats, like spreading H1N1 virus?
Friedman assumes that history will repeat itself in the same way. Big mistake. History sometimes repeats itself (not as often as people are led to think), but always in a different shape or form. Japan will not go to war against the US. Poland will not spark another war in Europe. Turkey will not try to re-enact the Otoman Empire. These are all ridiculous forecasts based on 19th Century assumptions.
A forecast of the next 100 years should challenge us to think about what kind of political issues will be relevant. For instance:
1. Will we move from a "bi-polar" world (20th Century US capitalism versus Russian communism) towards a truly multi-lateral world in which five blocks will have almost equal economic power, without clear dominance of one over the others? (US, Europe, China, India, South America?).
2. How will the US adapt to a world in which its share of world GDP will be 15% or less, the equivalent of other blocks?
3. How will education change, from the present mass-production format which was modeled on 19th century production plants, to formats based on universal access through the internet? How will that impact the way we think and act?
4. How will the decrease in religious participation influence ideologies and politics?
5. What about the increase in immigration and race-mixing? How will a mixed-race US and a mixed-race Europe interact with each other and with China?
6. If water will be "the new oil", how will that affect the role of water-rich countries like Canada, Russia and Brazil? Will water-deprived countries (like the Arab states in the Middle East) move from being overly wealthy to becoming totally poor?
7. Nation-states were created in the late 19th century and are decreasing in importance (see the fragmentation of the USSR and the consolidation of Europe into one economic entity). Will the US disappear into North America, while the UK, France & Germany disappear into Europe?
8. Will we have a single world currency, replacing the out-dated US dollar, British pound, and Euro?

It turns out that Friedman does not address any of these issues, but limits his "vision" to looking to the rear-view mirror. It is important to understand history in order to look towards the future, but Friedman does not understand history: he merely recites and repeats it, rather than interpreting and re-creating it.

The book is a fine example of how NOT to do a forecasting exercise: it is both narrow-minded and short-sighted. A big disappointment.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thoughtful Geopolitical Scenarios Developed 70 Years into the Future, 10 Mar 2009
By 
Donald Mitchell "Jesus Loves You!" (Thanks for Providing My Reviews over 124,000 Helpful Votes Globally) - See all my reviews
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No one can forecast what the weather will be next week in most parts of the world, why would anyone think that forecasting what nations will do in detail over 70 years is possible? George Friedman doesn't think it's possible either, but the exercise presents the opportunity to identify sources of potential future conflicts and alliances on the geopolitical stage. Thinking about those issues is well worth considering. An ounce of prevention may just help avoid tons of regret in some cases.

George Friedman believes that considerations of potential military defense and offense, access to needed raw materials and markets, demographics, political strengths and weaknesses, technology, and national economic interests can be combined to imagine how future leaders will see their situations and how well they will be able to handle old and new challenges vis-à-vis their neighbors and competitors. From those sources, he identifies factors that will probably be important which include:

1. Increasing importance of having access to shipping via the oceans due to ever-expanding global trade.

2. Continued U.S. dominance of the oceans.

3. Political and social weaknesses in China and Russia that will cause those nations to weaken and fragment.

4. Decline in population size in developed countries requiring pro-immigration strategies to stay competitive.

5. Emergence of space-based warfare and energy generation to shift the basis of national competition.

6. Robotics replacing less-skilled workers throughout the world creating a wave of unemployment.

7. Aggressive geographical expansions of influence by nations which are bounded by weak countries.

8. A continued dominance by the United States except in controlling the regions in the country that are filled with Mexican-Americans.

As a result, he projects an end to armed conflicts between Muslims and Americans on religious grounds; a new cold war with Russia; fragmentation of China's economic power and military strength; the rise of regional power in nations like Turkey, Japan, and Poland; a space-based war aimed at the United States by Japan and Turkey; the rise of space-based energy as the economic underpinning of prosperity; and a civil crisis in the Southwestern U.S.

Who knows if these things will happen? They could.

I felt that the main weakness in his argument was failing to consider the possible development of a strong regional block involving both North and South America over the next 20 years. Such a block would have tremendous access to technology, resources, positive demographics, and be easier to keep secure than trying to project power around the world. With such a strong base, many of the issues that concern Mr. Friedman about U.S. interests would be considerably less pressing. If the U.S. were not as aggressive in Europe, the Middle East, and Asia, some of the conflicts described in this book would be less likely to occur.

I was also surprised to see that the book doesn't make much of Africa as a source of future geopolitical challenges. With rapid population growth expected in a large population and lots of valuable resources at stake, you can certainly build a case that competition for African resources can lead to a lot of geopolitical instability.

Historians are fond of saying that history repeats itself. You can see an example in Germany being involved in playing a major role in the early stages of the first and second world wars. Mr. Friedman takes the repetition concept and applies it by assuming that Japan will repeat a Pearl-Harbor-like sneak attack on the United States. I think he could just as easily argue that Germany will start another European war, but he doesn't think the demographics favor that.

Ultimately, this book assumes that nations won't get any better at resolving their problems peacefully in ways to produce more social and economic benefits for everyone. I hope that assumption is mistaken.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book - could not put it down!, 23 May 2011
By 
D. Maher (Sydney, Australia.) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Next 100 Years, The (Paperback)
I bought this book with some trepidation based on some of the other reviews. The main criticsm seems to be that the book is too American-centric. However, the author makes clear from the beginning why this is so, and how it will influence the remainder of this century.

"The Next 100 Years" then proceeds to consider current facts and trends in geography, demography and culture, and extrapolates these quite reasonably until about 2040. From this point, things become much more foggy: the author predicts a war between America and a Turkish-Japanese alliance, at which point the book's narrative style tends more to storytelling of this scenario - As the author states, it is very difficult to make precise predictions at this point.

Disagree if you will, but I consider the basic application here of geography, demography and culture t ohow events will play out turns this book into a cracking read.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A book of 3 parts., 30 Jan 2011
By 
Mr. R. Englander "mutedcensor" (Farnham, Surrey) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Next 100 Years, The (Paperback)
The Next 100 Years : A Forecast for the 21st Century by George Friedman is a book of 3 parts. Great, fantastical, and good. George takes us on a journey of macro socio, politico, eco, and geo (and a mix of all 4) and by tracing back through history and cycles within it, has forecast what he believes to be the power struggles over the next century.

It is fascinating stuff initially, where he defines fault lines in terms of tension points around the globe and which countries will strive to make political, economic, social or geographical moves and against whom as the balance of power within continents shift and moves. It's certainly interesting stuff and as he acknowledges, he presents this in the full knowledge that he won't be around to see whether he was right or wrong (but he will I'm sure have made a good living from doing it) and so you can't really challenge his assumptions (or forecasts) too greatly.

Where the book gets a bit fantastical is around 2050 when we have the description of a world war, controlled by space centers, and troops in robotic "Iron Man" type costumes being fed electricity from Solar beams that have been microwave blasted down from solar panels on the moon. The realities of the first main section of the book seem light years away at this point (and who am I again to really challenge these assumptions?) but it does come back down to Earth again as we conclude the century with Mexico and the US in a power struggle for the control of North America.

I have read reviews of this book that suggest that it is too central to America as the power base in the world, but as a non-American, I feel that this is probably justified as the start-point for the book is where we are today and you can't really debate the influence America has on the world, whether you like it nor not.

I enjoyed the majority of the book. The 2050 war and the whole space thing began feeling like reading some science fiction novel and that was at extreme odds to the very well structured and explained first and third section forecasts, but nonetheless this was an interesting and enjoyable read.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Bold and daring, 23 Jun 2009
One of the things which attracts me to this author is he explains why things happen as they do, in objective terms. His work "America's Secret War" is so far the only explanation I've found of why America was attacked on 9/11, why they subsequently went to war in Afghanistan and why they later went to war in Iraq. There are many works, some good and some little better than angry rants, pointing out the obvious ethical and tactical flaws in US actions, but very few actually say why it happened and what the objectives were. This is Friedman's greatest strength and why I find his books, including this one, entertaining.

In this work he challenges your held perceptions that many of the things he predicts are too far fetched to be plausible by reminding us that the disintegration of the USSR was "too far fetched" a view in 1979, but 15 years later it was over and accepted as reality.

Whether some of his seemingly outlandish predictions will happen is matter for time but that's not necessarily the aim of the book. It is very well written work on why countries act the way they do on the world stage, bound as they are by geopolitical reality, which in turn is shaped by fundamentals such as geography, culture, mineral wealth and the like and thus what we can deduce a country might do, constrained as it is. He backs his statements with reasons and logic, and while some may regard the work as US-centric, he is not shy of some harsh statements of his fellow citizens and government.

The first part of the book establishes the actions of the world's most important players (past and present) and this was the best of the book for me. It gives a great understanding of the foundations of US (and other great world powers) foreign policy and thus, why these government act as they do. He then explains why other nations bind together to try to contain the US and thus, we have the great game.

The latter part of the book is an attempt to predict the future, based on the actions of how the US (which incidentally he describes as a barbarous country) will attempt to maintain it's position as the global power, and how other countries will either bend with this or resist, for their own rational reasons. This part will appear far fetched to many (including me I must say) but if you ignore the details a little and forget the science fiction and remember he is trying to give you the tone of the next 100 years, it's worth reading.

Taken together you have an good opinion on the tone that the next 100 years will take, in a broad sense and a good work on the framework by which geopolitics works. Very enjoyable.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Don't bother, 27 Sep 2013
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This review is from: Next 100 Years, The (Paperback)
A fairly interesting read for the first few chapters but unfortunately it then becomes little more than a piece of US banner waving until it finally spins completely out of control into a mockery of a sham. We have only a short time on this earth, don't waste it on this hogwash.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Interesting but old fashioned, 11 Jun 2013
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This review is from: Next 100 Years, The (Paperback)
This book is an incite full story of what could happen during the 21st century, and it is indeed quite interesting, battle stars, Mexico, Poland
However there are some big errors and the book is old fashioned :
1.Geopolitics-during this century I believe strategy will not he about having access to the sea, but more who has the best Internet cyber defences, or weather a country could be easily crippled by a terrorist attack
2. Already wrong- he says china will fragment during the 2010's it's 2013 and absolutely no sign of this, he also says china will not be economically strong and is only 3rd largest, it is now 2nd.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read!, 20 Jan 2013
By 
US Army Veteran (Berlin, Germany / Budapest, Hungary) - See all my reviews
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Absolutely stunning and on the point as far as it looks. He goes a bit kooky when he starts writing about the moon but all in all very interesting and since I read it 2 years ago, things are happening as he wrote.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating but not to be taken too seriously, 1 Dec 2012
By 
R. Darlington "Roger Darlington" (London, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Next 100 Years, The (Paperback)
Making forecasts of any kind for any period is fraught with difficulty and danger; making a forecast of geopolitics for the next century is, on the face of it, a crazy proposition. But this is what is attempted here by American George Friedman who is founder and chief executive of STRATFOR which claims to be the world's leading global intelligence and forecasting company.

Although Friedman appears to be writing with certainty and precision, one has to take this book as really simply a provocative and stimulating 'thought exercise' - an encouragement to think about some of the broad trends that might just occur. In fact, nobody is going to check out his forecasts in a 100 years time and, even if they did, he would not be around to be embarrassed at how wrong he got it all.

Friedman takes as his building blocks some rather contradictory principles. On the one hand, he looks at the history of nations and assumes that similar aspirations and rivalries will replicate themselves in the future. On the other hand, he emphasizes how dramatic change has been and can be and in effect invites us to think the unthinkable and expect the impossible. It is fun - but can one really call it a forecast?

He is sure that the current US-jihadist war will be over in a decade or so. He believes that Russia will attempt to reassert its power but fall back into disarray in the early 2020s. Contrary to many views, he expects that China's explosive growth rate will falter with the economy encumbered by bad debts and that the country will suffer internal tensions and a tendency to fragment. He expects Finland to take back Karelia, Romania to take back Moldova, Tibet to break free of China, and Korea to be reunited well before 2030. He forsees the rise of Japan and Turkey plus Poland as major powers again, each extending influence over adjacent nations and posing a threat to the global stability desired by the sole super power the United States.

By the middle of the century, he projects a major war between the Coalition of Japan and Turkey, with some backing from Germany, and the Alliance led by the USA with the involvement of Poland and Britain, a conflict initially fought in space with Japan launching a surprise attack from the moon on the three American Battle Stars in geostationary orbit (possibly on Thanksgiving weekend, 2050). He envisages the US fighting the war with unmanned hypersonic aircraft capable of delivering non-nuclear, high precision bombs and electrical grids being key targets. Thanks to the new weaponry, he expects a Third World War to result in a mere 50,000 lives, mostly in Europe as a consequence of the Turkish-German ground offensive. He is confident of US success in this global war which will lead to "a golden age for America - and a new and growing maturity in handling its power".

Friedman is confident of the supremacy of the United States for the remainder of the century, but he expect the USA to become a bicultural country like Canada or Belgium as a result of immigration from Mexico. Indeed he forecasts, late in the century, rising tensions with Mexico, with a considerable number of citizens of Mexican origin populating the south-west of the USA making the region Mexican culturally, socially and even politically.

It is striking how quickly he writes off the influence of China, which he sees as limited geopolitically by its geographical position and weak navy, and how absent growing nations like India and Brazil are in his thinking. The Middle East - seen by many as the most likely region for outright war - is barely mentioned.

Whereas many observers anticipate a decline in the relative strength and dominance of the United States in the decades to come with a move towards a more multi-polar world, Friedman boldy asserts that: "The United States' power is so extraordinarily overwhelming, and so deeply rooted in economic, technological and cultural realities, that the country will continue to surge through the twenty-first century, buffeted though it will be by wars and crises." In case there is any doubt of his certainty, he concludes: "In the end, if there is a single point I have to make in this book, it is that the United States - far from being on the verge of decline - has actually just begun its ascent."

Friedman insists that the prime underlying factor of the changes he forecasts is "the single most important fact of the twenty-first century: the end of the population explosion" - with population growth either stable or declining by 2050. Although many would see the dominant trend of the next century as the impact of global warming, he barely mentions this because he is convinced that demographic changes and technological developments will deal with the issue. Specifically he postulates the conversion of solar energy from vast numbers of photovoltaic cells in geostationary orbit with the resultant energy delivered to the earth's surface after conversion into microwaves.

American readers - at whom this book is principally aimed, I suspect - will find these messages reassuring and the centrality of US power which it postulates plays into the notion of 'American exceptionalism'. But I am not sure either of the rise and rise of the strength of the United States - Friedman says nothing of the challenges of declining education standards, rising economic inequalities, and the sclerosis of the political system - or of the weakness of other powers who will complicate his neat unipolar vision - not least Russia, China and Brazil on the global stage and the likes of Iran, Korea, and Indonesia on a regional basis. Furthermore, though Friedman's expertise is in warfare and military matters, it could well be that the great geopolitical conflicts of the 21st century are not military but economic and cultural and that what matters to most individuls is not which nation is on top but issues of food, water, climate and technology.
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Next 100 Years, The
Next 100 Years, The by George Friedman (Paperback - 11 Jan 2010)
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