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The Second World: Empires and Influence in the New Global Order: How Emerging Powers Are Redefining Global Competition in the Twenty-first Century Paperback – 30 Apr 2009

3.6 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 496 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin; 2009 edition (30 April 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141027789
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141027784
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 2.1 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 386,351 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

'Fascinating... elegantly combining historical analysis, political theory and eye-witness reports on the battle for primacy between the world's new empires' Mark Leonard, author of 'Why Europe will run the 21st Century' 'The Second World takes us to a whole series of important places ... and gives us glimpses of life on that messy borderland between the second world and first ... [a] great feat of reportage' - Niall Ferguson, The FT 'This is the sort of reporting that newspapers can no longer afford to send correspondents to do ... [Khanna's] book is compelling and exciting' The Telegraph

Review

'Wonderful vignettes...gives us glimpses of life on that messy borderland between the second world and the first ... [a] great feat of reportage' --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

3.6 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Parag Khanna has been to a lot of countries. Frankly, I envy him, but I also found his wide-ranging knowledge and insight into the approaches of second-world countries (think Turkey, Mexico or Iran) are interacting with our current 'superpowers', sometimes working in union, sometimes playing these powers off against each other. Khanna defines these as America, China and the European Union - which is interesting in itself, as is his argument that America could slip back into the second world. Well-written and enjoyable to read.
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Format: Paperback
This book provides an original view of how geopolitics and globalisation may play out in the coming years and decades, starting now. Khanna identifies three diplomatic styles, competing to lead the world in the 21st century: USA (coalition), EU (consensus) and China (consultation)

The key to success for the three superpowers lies in what Khanna calls the `Second World' countries. He then proceeds to provide excellent profiles of more than fifty countries in South America, Eastern Europe, Central and East Asia and the Middle East. There are some fascinating insights within these country profiles - historical, cultural and economic. It is the relationship between these Second World countries and the three superpowers that will have a huge impact upon the world and the global balance of power in the 21st century.

The successful superpowers will be flexible and pragmatic, seeing the world as it is, not how they might want it to be (whether we like it or not). For example, important questions (and dilemmas) about the spread of democracy across the world are raised.

It is a truly fascinating book, very well written and I highly recommend it.
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Format: Paperback
To my mind, this is a super in-depth look at the current state of the world. It doesn't really require anyone to subscribe to the author's (actually rather plausible) view that there exists a "second world" of countries just outside the orbits of the big three trading empires of the 21st century: China, the US and the EU. Rather, it simply looks at global trends and propensities, and supports them with pertinent historical narrative, as appropriate.

By and large, you get a very good sense of the state of the world right now. Khanna takes the globe continent by continent, country by country. Once I'd got a sense of what was going on, I found myself coming up with hypotheses of my own. And I do think that's the hallmark of a good text in this field, whether it sets the reader thinking and whether he feels he has to keep it physically nearby for the immediate future, just to re-check significant facts and figures.

I would recommend buying this book in conjunction with Whitaker's Almanack 2013 so that you can check the author's assessment of the different countries he examines. He is quite positive about Kazakhstan, for instance, but the country does have its critics. According to my recent copy of Private Eye (#1338), "Nazarbayev centralises power, rigs elections and nobbles the judiciary". Not nice at all.

This, of course, only shows that when it comes to something as complex as international relations, you can't do with just one book. Khanna's text has come in for quite a bashing from one reviewer on here, and it's almost certainly dated in places now, but I don't know of any text that does a comparable or better job of fulfilling the same brief in as readable a way.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The young Mr Khanna spent some time traveling around the world hanging out with NGO workers and CEOs. The book is broken down into mini-chapters where Mr Khanna then regales us with his startling insights into these various countries and regions whilst stitching it together with journalistic type academic treatise on the `second world' and its relative importance for the world's three empires: China, the US and the EU.

Like many of these kinds of books, often coming out of the US, this is little more than travelogue, basic and almost common-sensical truisms and journalistic type sound bites. Mr Khanna's thesis is hardly original. Within the International Relations type literature there's a whole swathe called `world systems theory' that posits the centrality of what is termed the `semi-periphery' and its importance to hegemonic powers. If you want Economist type sound bites coupled with PhD student level insights get this book. The book has Khanna's mate, Blair's favorite foreign policy sound bite machine Mark Leonard on the back saying nice things. That should tell you all you need. Save your money for something a little more insightful.
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Format: Paperback
Too many countries and too little time. It all feels a bit rushed. It is quite readable and there are some interesting nuggets, but there is a tendency for sweeping statements and opinions to be presented as "facts" without much background. Also, there are some cringworthy statements such as "china is no more likely to let of tibet as the US is of Texas or california" (rather smugly put I felt). Well, i think that the circumstances are somewhat different arent they?
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