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The revenge of geography : what the map…

The revenge of geography : what the map tells us about coming conflicts… (original 2012; edition 2012)

by Robert D. Kaplan

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353730,914 (3.54)12
Title:The revenge of geography : what the map tells us about coming conflicts and the battle against fate
Authors:Robert D. Kaplan
Info:New York : Random House, 2012.
Tags:Read, 2012, ebook, Kindle

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The Revenge of Geography: What the Map Tells Us About Coming Conflicts and the Battle Against Fate by Robert D. Kaplan (2012)


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This book started out like the kind of book I really dislike: throwing out of lots of names and semi-obscure references with little attempt to engage the reader. I was doubly disappointed because I have read Monsoon by the same author and found it so much better.

It got better in the second part, but I had trouble following Mr. Kaplan's argument. He takes a very broad, rambling approach to his topic.

If you decide to read this book, I recommend you begin with the Afterword: it provides an excellent overview and the clearest explanation of the author's ideas.

p.s. As a Canadian, I was greatly offended by the description of Canada as "the arctic" bordering the U.S. to the north. ( )
  LynnB | Nov 4, 2014 |
This is a very good book about how geography is a big influence on how nations function around the world. He brings in ideas from famous geographers and historians of the past in his effort to explain the situations countries find themselves in. Russia has a vast plain subject to many invasions. Hence, a fortress mentality. Countries which develop sea power function differently than those who have concentratd on land forces. Sometimes, certain locations cause countries to have considerable effect on those near them, such as Iran (Perdia - the pivot) and Turkey, the successor to the Ottoman Empire. Quite a bit was written on China and India, which are fairly close to each other, but vastly different. I enjoyed this book immensely. ( )
  vpfluke | Jun 2, 2014 |
Kaplan's main thesis is great food for thought; that is: the more the world is connected, the more strategic geographic locations are important. I know I'm going to be reading world news in a better more informed way. This is a very interesting book that suffers from bad writing and editing. Kaplan is quite good at making what could be a perfectly good sentence into a convoluted one. That said, I know more now that I did before about the interplay of geography, politics and strategy. ( )
  konastories | May 30, 2014 |
Kinda interesting, but not enough to make me want to finish. ( )
  bradgers | Feb 6, 2014 |
Robert Kaplan sets out to describe the effects that physical environments have had on Human affairs for the last four thousand years, with a large number of more modern examples. He quotes from some of my favourite writers on this topic from the past and joins Toynbee, McNeill, and even Freya Starke. The problem of some Americans in dealing with foreign parts of the globe, where their cultural traditions are conditioned by different physical as well as human environments are laid out in clear terms. the prose is literate and the maps quite useful.
There are a few cases of special pleading for current conservative approaches to problems. He has a very limited number of answers to the Mexican/Chicano stresses in the USA, for example, and doesn't spend time on successful challenges to the environment that have increased the chances of world peace and betterment. So the tone is alarmist, from the USA! point of view. But within its ideological strictures, it's a very good survey of 2012 on planet earth. ( )
  DinadansFriend | Nov 26, 2013 |
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But precisely because I expect little of the human condition, man's periods of felicity, his partial progress, his efforts to begin over again and to continue, all seem to me like so many prodigies which nearly compensate for the monstrous mass of ills and defeats, of indifference and error. Catastrophe and ruin will come; disorder will triumph, but order will too, from time to time.

--Marguerite Yourcenar
Memoirs of Hadrian (1951)
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A good place to understand the present, and to ask questions about the future, is on the ground, traveling as slowly as possible.
Chapter 1

To recover our sense of geography, we must first fix the moment in recent history when we most profoundly lost it, explain why we lost it, and elucidate how that affected our assumptions about the world.
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The insights, discoveries, and theories of great geographers and geopolitical thinkers of the past look back at critical pivots in history and then look forward at the evolving global scene.

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