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The importance of this book cannot be overstated,
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This review is from: The Revenge of Geography: What the Map Tells Us About Coming Conflicts and the Battle Against Fate (Kindle Edition)
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.
Perhaps the most worrying chapter of all is the final chapter on the US-Mexican border. Mexico, as many will be aware, is on the verge of becoming a failed state. This, coupled with migration and population growth within the United States, creates what is in the long term, an existential dilemma for the US. This may sound familiar to anyone familiar with the writings of the late Samuel Huntington, but Kaplan is not quite as pessimistic as the late Harvard professor, suggesting that integration and trade will overcome ethnicity and language.
A trickier read than Kaplan's previous works, but a work that needs reading, and re-reading, and should (at least in the opinion of this reader) become an essential read on the syllabuses of all political science faculties.