- Paperback: 448 pages
- Publisher: Fontana Press (13 Jun. 1994)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0006862985
- ISBN-13: 978-0006862987
- Product Dimensions: 13 x 2.7 x 19.7 cm
- Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,029,901 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Preparing for the 21st Century Paperback – 13 Jun 1994
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"Penetrating...the book's impact is crushing."--The New York Times
"Required reading for anyone who wants to take measure of the 21st-century realities." --The New York Times Book Review. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From the Back Cover
Kennedy's book is not so much about preparing for the next century, as about the extent to which we are quite unprepared for it… His style is clear, cautious – and chilling.'
BEN PIMLOTT, 'Guardian'
'For anyone who actually believes that history has ended, Paul Kennedy's book is a splendid antidote. To those who never imagined it had, it offers insight laced with warning. It argues that two fundamental forces will drive the world into the 21st century, namely, sex and science – more strictly, demography and technology … And unlike most writers of polemic, Kennedy's quest for enlightenment on the future is rooted in understanding of the past… We owe him a bigger debt than most of us, who would never even have contemplated performing his Herculean task, can comprehend. This is a formidable work of syntheses to be read by all who seek a better sense of the challenges the 21st century will pose.'
DOUGLAS HAGUE, 'TES'
''Preparing for the Twenty-First Century' argues that the conflicts which troubled Malthus… confront us today with immeasurably greater force. The numbers are much bigger, the ecological risks much greater… and the technological uncertainties even more imponderable… What marks out Professor Kennedy's book is its astonishing range, cautious tone and the remarkable way it shepherds masses of information into a coherent argument… It is both exhilarating and depressing. The sweep and command of Kennedy's writing provides a refreshing break from the introverted, Gradgrindian obsessions of contemporary British politics.'
JOHN NAUGHTON, 'Observer'
'Kennedy deserves to be read, he deserves to be challenged, he deserves to be taken with the utmost seriousness. But above all he deserves to be thanked for his courage in stepping in to a field hitherto largely occupied by single-issue maniacs and pedlars of universal nostra.'
DONALD CAMERON WATT, 'The Times'
'Professor Kennedy is a high-minded and humane optimist… Though he has much with which to frighten us, he regularly spares us a verdict on the evidence he presents, ending his chapters on an admonitory note instead of with the apocalyptic conclusion the reader had been led to expect.'
JOHN KEEGAN, 'Daily Telegraph'
Top Customer Reviews
The opening part of the book is divided into his major themes.
Firstly, population growth. As the human race's survival skillsets advance, so does its population. The world is never far from a global food shortage, though biotechnology has so far kept up. What hasn't kept up, as we know, is the ability to reduce environmental damage. Pollution, water depletion, ozone layer thinning, overcrowding, global warming, etc, etc. (2 degrees celsius doesn't sound much until you hear that a nine degrees shift could trigger another ice age).
Secondly, the relative decline of the West, as the developing world's catches up.
Thirdly, globalisation, migration, and the relative decline in importance of the nation-state.
Fourthly, automation, IT and robotics; and finally, the vital role of increased education at all levels.
After chapters on these topics, he considers specific national issues in more detail. These summaries , written twenty-years ago, now serve as useful historical contexts.
The key issues he cites for the USA are i) an excess of low-skill immigration, and ii)even then, excessive debt.
For Europe, he sees the priority as a political balancing act: on the one hand, opportunities for a harmonised, free trading, economically stable bloc; on the other, the reality of cultural differences, national interests, and protectionism.Read more ›
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta) (May include reviews from Early Reviewer Rewards Program)
One of the more entertaining subjects for students of political thought is his analysis of economic globalization. Mr. Kennedy points to some specific reasons on why the economic progress of globalization has been so slow forthcoming: corrupt regimes, excess military funding, and religious fundamentalism, to name a few. Mr. Kennedy believes that a global shift towards biotechnology would allow us to move away from traditional farming practices; therefore making it easier to fight global threats such as starvation and economic deprivation. There are, of course, many other issues discussed in "Preparing for the Twenty-First Century."
In conclusion, Mr. Kennedy's thoughts on the future of the American Empire are of a pessimistic view. As he states, with a great support of factual information, the continuous decline in economic growth, loss in per capita productivity, and a rising trade deficit are issues of serious concern. Besides the economic threats, the country also faces social challenges in areas of crime, health, and education. A must read for under-graduate and graduate students of political science and thought.
Kennedy talks about 3 key trends - Demographic shifts, Economic Aspirations and Ecology.
Developed countries are aging and developing countries are becoming younger. This demographic shift should lead to a need for shifting productive people to the developed economies. With the spread of communication, the poor in developing countries have higher economic aspirations. So they want to shift to richer countries, more than before. As Kennedy points out, the only hitch is resistance to immigration.
And it is interesting to see how the World solved this problem through fiber optic cables. So the developed World now has remote workers. And even Kennedy could not have foreseen that.
The other issue he talks about is not so easy to solve. He forecasts that economic growth aspirations will lead an ecological challenge. The emerging 'energy wars', and the consequence of industrial development in China and India are bringing us face to face with the challenges that Kennedy anticipated. So, the choice is to deny the developing countries the prosperity that the rich countries enjoy, or risk the World blowing up - ecologically. And who can decide. Such is the dilemma posed by Paul Kennedy's brilliant analysis.
A true historian and a forecaster.
He gets a lot right, and is only way off on a few things. There is an (in retrospect) annoying focus on robotics, which was very big in the eighties. Kennedy takes that and projects it to 2025 as if robots would be the measure of any industrial society. I don't think he goes five pages without using the word. Well, it hasn't turned out that way. For one thing, assembly lines and packaging machines have simply become far more sophisticated, so instead of programmable robot arms, we get entire systems in a room.
On the other hand, the anticipation of methane being released from Siberian permafrost, the rising of the oceans, the killing off of various species and inconvenient climate change is well underway as predicted. No one has the right to be taken by surprise.
I learned a great deal from this book, as I do from everything Kennedy writes. Worth the trip.