The Revenge of Geography - what the map tells us about coming conflicts and the battle against fate
by Kaplan, Robert D.
pub. by Random House, NY 2012 - - maps - isbn 978-1-4000-6983-5 Notes on pages 349 - 378 index on pages 379 - 403 - 403 pages
Kaplan thinks large. This book is a tour de force of Geopolitik divided by time. He defines his general ideas about the way the world is physically arranged and how that colors the events of nations history, how nations with real geographical borders are different from those whose neighboring borders are just lines in the dirt.
He is not at all afraid of using a complicated word such as hegemony when a simpler word such as leadership would do. Kaplan has traveled widely and is well well qualified to write a book on the grand scale, as this one is. He has worked under the US Secretary of Defense, and in various think tanks which examine the state of the world for various US political forces.
The book discusses several eminent geographers and their geo-political thoughts at length. I wish he had included a bibliography. One could be constructed from the chapter notes, but I would rather he had done it directly.
The book is organized in 3 parts
I. - Visionaries - with chapters headed - from Bosnia to Baghdad - the revenge of geography - Herodotus and his successors - the eurasian map - the Nazi distortion - the rimland thesis - the alure of sea power - the crisis of room -
II. - The Early-Twenty-First-Century Map - with chapters headed - the geography of european divisions - Russia and the independent heartland - the geography of Chinese power - Indias geographical dilemma - the Iranian pivot - the former Ottoman empire.
III. - Americas destiny (a very short part) - Braudel, Mexico and grand strategy.
In his summation Kaplan suggests that USA ought to pay more attention to Mexico as a possible threat if it becomes a failed state than it is taking time and energy to deal with Iraq and Afghanistan.
Some of the authors discussed in depth include Mackinder, Halford J. - Morgaenthau, Hans J. - Thucydides - Hobbs, Thomas - Mahan, Alfred Thayer - East, W. Gordon - Spykman, Nicholas J. - Berlin, Isaiah - McNeill, William H. - Spengler, Oswald - Toynbee, Arnold J. - Roux, George - Hodgson, Marshall G.S. - Pasternak, Boris - Grygiel, Jakub J. - Kennedy, Paul - Brzezinski, Zbigniew - Strausz-Hupe, Robert - Blouet, Brian W. - Herwig, Holger H. - Bracken, Paul - Ibn Khaldun - Orwell, George - Cohen, Saul B. - Braundel, Fernand - Solzhenitsyn, Alexander - Keay, John - Ebrey, Patricia Buckley - Panikkar, K.M. - Stein, Burton - Ahsan, Aitzaz - Wink, Andre - Doughty, Charles M. = Vasssiliev, Alexei - Mansfield, Peter - Friedman, George - Gibbons, Herbert Adams - Hitti, Philip K. - Adonis (Syrian poet) - Huntington, Samuel P. - and many more.
The maps are arranged in interesting ways so as to best illustrate the chapter which they head. A careful examination of them is very telling. How many know the layout of central and Southern Asia?
This book deals with ancient civilizations and their modern situations. It is almost disturbing that South America, Africa and Australia are not covered. These places might not have a relevant ancient past, but I expect that they will be serious players in the world of the future.
All-in-all a challenging book. Reading it will expand and sometimes numb your mind. It took me long enough to read this book that I ran up an overdue fine to the public library from which it was borrowed.
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