The revenge of geography What the map tells us about coming conflicts and the battle against fate

Robert D. Kaplan, 1952-

Book - 2012

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Subjects
Published
New York : Random House 2012.
Edition
1st ed
Language
English
Physical Description
xxii, 403 p. ; 25 cm
Bibliography
Includes bibliographical references and index.
ISBN
9781400069835
1400069831
Main Author
Robert D. Kaplan, 1952- (-)
  • From Bosnia to Baghdad
  • The revenge of geography
  • Herodotus and his successors
  • The Eurasian map
  • The Nazi distortion
  • The Rimland thesis
  • The allure of sea power
  • The "crisis of room"
  • The geography of European divisions
  • Russia and the independent heartland
  • The geography of Chinese power
  • India's geographical dilemma
  • The Iranian pivot
  • The former Ottoman Empire
  • Braudel, Mexico, and grand strategy.
Review by Booklist Reviews

As a construct for the international state system, geopolitics was eclipsed after 1945 by liberal internationalism and humanitarianism, international communism, and economic and communications globalization. But geography and the system's fundamental anarchy cannot be ignored, holds this well-known author of many works about world affairs. Seeing geography's contours behind the shape of the future, Kaplan, though he does not venture predictions, harkens to geopolitical theorists, summarizes their ideas, and assesses their applicability to the present. Conscious of criticism of geopolitics as amoral or deterministic, Kaplan nevertheless seems swayed by notions that control of the globe depends on who controls the Eurasian heartland (Russia) and the Eurasian rim lands (Turkey, Iran, India, China), with the U.S. constituting the hegemonic power of the Western Hemisphere, with naval influence on the Eurasian rim lands. Accordingly, he conducts a tour d'horizon of those countries and their geography of plains, mountains, and seas, plus climate and demographics, and notes those factors' expression in history, such as Russia's cyclical expansion and contraction. Promoting balance-of-power realism, Kaplan sparks debate for the foreign-policy set. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Choice Reviews

Kaplan (senior fellow, Center for a New American Security) stresses geographic components of modern world politics--ignoring geography can be fatal. He usefully reviews the insights of such thinkers as Halford Mackinder, Alfred Thayer Mahan, Karl Haushofer, Nicholas Spykman, and Fernand Braudel. Chapters cover the geographic problems of divided Europe, Russia as Eurasian heartland, China's push outward, India's testy relationship with China, Iran as vital pivot, and the Mideast quagmire after the Ottoman Empire. Kaplan repeatedly flirts with geographic determinism but always backs down. He ventures no systematic theory connecting physical and human geography; sometimes the former dominates, but other times history, culture, economics, and politics override physical geography. True, everything human has a territorial component, often neglected, but this alone seldom determines events. Geography cannot explain, for example, why China stayed home for 22 centuries but suddenly burst across Asia's seas; industrialization must be considered as a variable. In Monsoon (CH, May'11, 48-5347), Kaplan saw US "destiny" in naval counterbalancing with China. Now he concludes that "fixing" turbulent Mexico is US destiny. Destiny hops around a lot. This book would be useful to undergraduates to supplement books that are overly abstract in their discussion of theories and policies. Summing Up: Recommended. General readers and undergraduate students. General Readers; Upper-division Undergraduates. M. G. Roskin emeritus, Lycoming College Copyright 2013 American Library Association.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

Geography is destiny, sort of, according to this overwrought map exercise. Journalist Kaplan (Balkan Ghosts) unearths and updates musty Edwardian treatises on the strategic importance of the Eurasian "Heartland" (roughly, the Soviet empire) and the surrounding "Rimland" of Europe, the Middle East, India, and China. His survey of these regions, strewn with diverting but feckless snippets of history, cultural lore, and economics, yields a "geographical" analysis that's mainly a jumble of empty rotational metaphors; we learn that North Korea is "the true pivot of East Asia," that "India is the global pivot state of the 21st century," that Afghanistan could become "the hub... of Eurasia in general," and that "the Iranian pivot" is "the Middle East's very own universal joint." Disputing blithe world-is-flat neoliberalism, Kaplan's pitiless "realism" asserts that, as in ages past, geography will spawn territorial conflict, but he has no insights into who will fight where or why, just Malthusian pessimism, banal prognostications—China's growing navy will rub against America's and India's—and vague geostrategic musings. ("Turkey," he pronounces, "...along with Iran, has the capacity to neutralize the Arab Fertile Crescent.") The result is an unconvincing reprise of an obsolete worldview. Agent: Carl Brandt, Brandt & Hochman Literary Agency. (Sept.) [Page ]. Copyright 2012 PWxyz LLC

Review by Publisher Summary 1

Draws on the insights of geographers and geopolitical thinkers to present a holistic interpretation of the next cycle of conflict throughout Eurasia that considers such topics as European debt, Chinese power, and the role of Iran.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

The best-selling author of Balkan Ghosts presents a timely and provocative response to The World Is Flat that draws on the insights of leading geographers and geopolitical thinkers to present a holistic interpretation of the next cycle of conflict throughout Eurasia that considers such topics as European debt, Chinese power and the role of Iran.

Review by Publisher Summary 3

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • In this provocative, startling book, Robert D. Kaplan, the bestselling author of Monsoon and Balkan Ghosts, offers a revelatory new prism through which to view global upheavals and to understand what lies ahead for continents and countries around the world.Bestselling author Robert D. Kaplan builds on the insights, discoveries, and theories of great geographers and geopolitical thinkers of the recent and distant past to look back at critical pivots in history and then to look forward at the evolving global scene. Kaplan traces the history of the world’s hot spots by examining their climates, topographies, and proximities to other embattled lands. He then applies the lessons learned to the present crises in Europe, Russia, China, the Indian Subcontinent, Turkey, Iran, and the Arab Middle East. The result is a holistic interpretation of the next cycle of conflict throughout Eurasia, a visionary glimpse into a future that can be understood only in the context of temperature, land allotment, and other physical certainties. A brilliant rebuttal to thinkers who suggest that globalism will trump geography, this indispensable work shows how timeless truths and natural facts can help prevent this century’s looming cataclysms.Praise for The Revenge of Geography“[An] ambitious and challenging new book . . . [The Revenge of Geography] displays a formidable grasp of contemporary world politics and serves as a powerful reminder that it has been the planet’s geophysical configurations, as much as the flow of competing religions and ideologies, that have shaped human conflicts, past and present.”—Malise Ruthven, The New York Review of Books“Robert D. Kaplan, the world-traveling reporter and intellectual whose fourteen books constitute a bedrock of penetrating exposition and analysis on the post-Cold War world . . . strips away much of the cant that suffuses public discourse these days on global developments and gets to a fundamental reality: that geography remains today, as it has been throughout history, one of the most powerful drivers of world events.”—The National Interest “Kaplan plunges into a planetary review that is often thrilling in its sheer scale . . . encyclopedic.”—The New Yorker“[The Revenge of Geography] serves the facts straight up. . . . Kaplan’s realism and willingness to face hard facts make The Revenge of Geography a valuable antidote to the feel-good manifestoes that often masquerade as strategic thought.”—The Daily Beast

Review by Publisher Summary 4

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • In this provocative, startling book, Robert D. Kaplan, the bestselling author of Monsoon and Balkan Ghosts, offers a revelatory new prism through which to view global upheavals and to understand what lies ahead for continents and countries around the world.

Bestselling author Robert D. Kaplan builds on the insights, discoveries, and theories of great geographers and geopolitical thinkers of the recent and distant past to look back at critical pivots in history and then to look forward at the evolving global scene. Kaplan traces the history of the world’s hot spots by examining their climates, topographies, and proximities to other embattled lands. He then applies the lessons learned to the present crises in Europe, Russia, China, the Indian Subcontinent, Turkey, Iran, and the Arab Middle East. The result is a holistic interpretation of the next cycle of conflict throughout Eurasia, a visionary glimpse into a future that can be understood only in the context of temperature, land allotment, and other physical certainties. A brilliant rebuttal to thinkers who suggest that globalism will trump geography, this indispensable work shows how timeless truths and natural facts can help prevent this century’s looming cataclysms.

Praise for The Revenge of Geography


“[An] ambitious and challenging new book . . . [The Revenge of Geography] displays a formidable grasp of contemporary world politics and serves as a powerful reminder that it has been the planet’s geophysical configurations, as much as the flow of competing religions and ideologies, that have shaped human conflicts, past and present.”—Malise Ruthven, The New York Review of Books

“Robert D. Kaplan, the world-traveling reporter and intellectual whose fourteen books constitute a bedrock of penetrating exposition and analysis on the post-Cold War world . . . strips away much of the cant that suffuses public discourse these days on global developments and gets to a fundamental reality: that geography remains today, as it has been throughout history, one of the most powerful drivers of world events.”The National Interest

“Kaplan plunges into a planetary review that is often thrilling in its sheer scale . . . encyclopedic.”The New Yorker

“[The Revenge of Geography] serves the facts straight up. . . . Kaplan’s realism and willingness to face hard facts make The Revenge of Geography a valuable antidote to the feel-good manifestoes that often masquerade as strategic thought.”—The Daily Beast