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About Robert D. Kaplan
His more controversial essays about the nature of US power have spurred debate and criticism in academia, the media, and the highest levels of government. One of Kaplan's most influential articles include "The Coming Anarchy", published in The Atlantic Monthly in 1994. Critics of the article has compared it to Huntingon's Clash of Civilizations thesis, since Kaplan presents conflicts in the contemporary world as the struggle between primitivism and civilizations. Another frequent theme in Kaplan's work is the reemergence of cultural and historical tensions temporarily suspended during the Cold War.
From March 2008 to spring 2012, Kaplan was a Senior Fellow at the Center for a New American Security in Washington, which he rejoined in 2015. Between 2012 and 2014, he was chief geopolitical analyst at Stratfor, a private global forecasting firm. In 2009, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates appointed Kaplan to the Defense Policy Board, a federal advisory committee to the United States Department of Defense. In 2011, Foreign Policy magazine named Kaplan as one of the world's "top 100 global thinkers."
Bio from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Photo by Rosalie Bolender [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.
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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
From the assassination that triggered World War I to the ethnic warfare in Serbia, Bosnia, and Croatia, the Balkans have been the crucible of the twentieth century, the place where terrorism and genocide first became tools of policy. Chosen as one of the Best Books of the Year by The New York Times, and greeted with critical acclaim as "the most insightful and timely work on the Balkans to date" (The Boston Globe), Kaplan's prescient, enthralling, and often chilling political travelogue is already a modern classic.
This new edition of Balkan Ghosts includes six opinion pieces written by Robert Kaplan about the Balkans between 1996 and 2000 beginning just after the implementation of the Dayton Peace Accords and ending after the conclusion of the Kosovo war, with the removal of Slobodan Milosevic from power.
From Robert D. Kaplan, named one of the world’s Top 100 Global Thinkers by Foreign Policy magazine, comes a penetrating look at the volatile region that will dominate the future of geopolitical conflict.
Over the last decade, the center of world power has been quietly shifting from Europe to Asia. With oil reserves of several billion barrels, an estimated nine hundred trillion cubic feet of natural gas, and several centuries’ worth of competing territorial claims, the South China Sea in particular is a simmering pot of potential conflict. The underreported military buildup in the area where the Western Pacific meets the Indian Ocean means that it will likely be a hinge point for global war and peace for the foreseeable future.
In Asia’s Cauldron, Robert D. Kaplan offers up a vivid snapshot of the nations surrounding the South China Sea, the conflicts brewing in the region at the dawn of the twenty-first century, and their implications for global peace and stability. One of the world’s most perceptive foreign policy experts, Kaplan interprets America’s interests in Asia in the context of an increasingly assertive China. He explains how the region’s unique geography fosters the growth of navies but also impedes aggression. And he draws a striking parallel between China’s quest for hegemony in the South China Sea and the United States’ imperial adventure in the Caribbean more than a century ago.
To understand the future of conflict in East Asia, Kaplan argues, one must understand the goals and motivations of its leaders and its people. Part travelogue, part geopolitical primer, Asia’s Cauldron takes us on a journey through the region’s boom cities and ramshackle slums: from Vietnam, where the superfueled capitalism of the erstwhile colonial capital, Saigon, inspires the geostrategic pretensions of the official seat of government in Hanoi, to Malaysia, where a unique mix of authoritarian Islam and Western-style consumerism creates quite possibly the ultimate postmodern society; and from Singapore, whose “benevolent autocracy” helped foster an economic miracle, to the Philippines, where a different brand of authoritarianism under Ferdinand Marcos led not to economic growth but to decades of corruption and crime.
At a time when every day’s news seems to contain some new story—large or small—that directly relates to conflicts over the South China Sea, Asia’s Cauldron is an indispensable guide to a corner of the globe that will affect all of our lives for years to come.
Praise for Asia’s Cauldron
“Asia’s Cauldron is a short book with a powerful thesis, and it stands out for its clarity and good sense. . . . If you are doing business in China, traveling in Southeast Asia or just obsessing about geopolitics, you will want to read it.”—The New York Times Book Review
“Kaplan has established himself as one of our most consequential geopolitical thinkers. . . . [Asia’s Cauldron] is part treatise on geopolitics, part travel narrative. Indeed, he writes in the tradition of the great travel writers.”—The Weekly Standard
“Kaplan’s fascinating book is a welcome challenge to the pessimists who see only trouble in China’s rise and the hawks who view it as malign.
“[Kaplan] has emerged not only as an eloquent defender of foreign-policy realism but as a grand strategist to whom the Pentagon turns for a tour d’horizon.”—The Wall Street Journal
In the late thirteenth century, Marco Polo began a decades-long trek from Venice to China along the trade route between Europe and Asia known as the Silk Road—a foundation of Kublai Khan’s sprawling empire. Now, in the early twenty-first century, the Chinese regime has proposed a land-and-maritime Silk Road that duplicates exactly the route Marco Polo traveled.
Drawing on decades of firsthand experience as a foreign correspondent and military embed for The Atlantic, Robert D. Kaplan outlines the timeless principles that should shape America’s role in a turbulent world that encompasses the Chinese challenge. From Kaplan’s immediate thoughts on President Trump to a frank examination of what will happen in the event of war with North Korea, these essays are a vigorous reckoning with the difficult choices the United States will face in the years ahead.
Praise for The Return of Marco Polo’s World
“Elegant and humane . . . [a] prophecy from an observer with a depressingly accurate record of predictions.”—Bret Stephens, The New York Times Book Review
“These essays constitute a truly pathbreaking, brilliant synthesis and analysis of geographic, political, technological, and economic trends with far-reaching consequences. The Return of Marco Polo’s World is another work by Robert D. Kaplan that will be regarded as a classic.”—General David Petraeus (U.S. Army, Ret.)
“Thoughtful, unsettling, but not apocalyptic analyses of world affairs flow steadily off the presses, and this is a superior example. . . . Presented with enough verve and insight to tempt readers to set it aside to reread in a few years.”—Kirkus Review (starred review)
“An astute, powerfully stated, and bracing presentation.”—Booklist
“This volume compiles sixteen major essays on America’s foreign policy from national security commentator Kaplan. . . . An overview of thoughtful, multilayered positions and perspectives evolving through changing circumstances.”—Publishers Weekly
On the world maps common in America, the Western Hemisphere lies front and center, while the Indian Ocean region all but disappears. This convention reveals the geopolitical focus of the now-departed twentieth century, but in the twenty-first century that focus will fundamentally change. In this pivotal examination of the countries known as “Monsoon Asia”—which include India, Pakistan, China, Indonesia, Burma, Oman, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, and Tanzania—bestselling author Robert D. Kaplan shows how crucial this dynamic area has become to American power. It is here that the fight for democracy, energy independence, and religious freedom will be lost or won, and it is here that American foreign policy must concentrate if the United States is to remain relevant in an ever-changing world. From the Horn of Africa to the Indonesian archipelago and beyond, Kaplan exposes the effects of population growth, climate change, and extremist politics on this unstable region, demonstrating why Americans can no longer afford to ignore this important area of the world.
Robert Kaplan first visited Romania in the 1970s, when he was a young journalist and the country was a bleak Communist backwater. It was one of the darkest corners of Europe, but few Westerners were paying attention. What ensued was a lifelong obsession with a critical, often overlooked country—a country that, today, is key to understanding the current threat that Russia poses to Europe. In Europe’s Shadow is a vivid blend of memoir, travelogue, journalism, and history, a masterly work thirty years in the making—the story of a journalist coming of age, and a country struggling to do the same. Through the lens of one country, Kaplan examines larger questions of geography, imperialism, the role of fate in international relations, the Cold War, the Holocaust, and more.
Here Kaplan illuminates the fusion of the Latin West and the Greek East that created Romania, the country that gave rise to Ion Antonescu, Hitler’s chief foreign accomplice during World War II, and the country that was home to the most brutal strain of Communism under Nicolae Ceaușescu. Romania past and present are rendered in cinematic prose: the ashen faces of citizens waiting in bread lines in Cold War–era Bucharest; the Bărăgan Steppe, laid bare by centuries of foreign invasion; the grim labor camps of the Black Sea Canal; the majestic Gothic church spires of Transylvania and Maramureş. Kaplan finds himself in dialogue with the great thinkers of the past, and with the Romanians of today, the philosophers, priests, and politicians—those who struggle to keep the flame of humanism alive in the era of a resurgent Russia.
Upon his return to Romania in 2013 and 2014, Kaplan found the country transformed yet again—now a traveler’s destination shaped by Western tastes, yet still emerging from the long shadows of Hitler and Stalin. In Europe’s Shadow is the story of an ideological and geographic frontier—and the book you must read in order to truly understand the crisis Europe faces, from Russia and from within.
Praise for In Europe’s Shadow
“[A] haunting yet ultimately optimistic examination of the human condition as found in Romania . . . Kaplan’s account of the centuries leading up to the most turbulent of all—the twentieth—is both sweeping and replete with alluring detail.”—Alison Smale, The New York Times Book Review
“This book reveals the confident, poetical Kaplan . . . but also a reflective, political Kaplan, seeking at times to submerge his gift for romantic generalization in respectful attention to the ideas of others.”—Timothy Snyder, The Washington Post
“A serious yet impassioned survey of Romania . . . Kaplan is a regional geographer par excellence.”—The Christian Science Monitor
“Kaplan is one of America’s foremost writers on the region. . . . In a series of deep dives into the region’s past—Byzantine, Ottoman, Habsburg and Soviet—he finds parallels and echoes that help us understand the present.
Book Club Pick for Now Read This, from PBS NewsHour and The New York Times • “There is more insight here into the Age of Trump than in bushels of political-horse-race journalism.”—The New York Times Book Review (Editors’ Choice)
At a time when there is little consensus about who we are and what we should be doing with our power overseas, a return to the elemental truths of the American landscape is urgently needed. In Earning the Rockies, New York Times bestselling author Robert D. Kaplan undertakes a cross-country journey, traversing a rich and varied landscape that still remains the primary source of American power. Traveling west, in the same direction as the pioneers, Kaplan witnesses both prosperity and decline, and reexamines the history of westward expansion in a new light: as a story not just of genocide and individualism but also of communalism and a respect for the limits of a water-starved terrain. Concluding at the edge of the Pacific Ocean with a gripping description of an anarchic world, Earning the Rockies shows how America’s foreign policy response ought to be rooted in its own geographical situation.
Praise for Earning the Rockies
“Unflinchingly honest . . . a lens-changing vision of America’s role in the world . . . a jewel of a book that lights the path ahead.”—Secretary of Defense James Mattis
“A sui generis writer . . . America’s East Coast establishment has only one Robert Kaplan, someone as fluently knowledgeable about the Balkans, Iraq, Central Asia and West Africa as he is about Ohio and Wyoming.”—Financial Times
“Kaplan has pursued stories in places as remote as Yemen and Outer Mongolia. In Earning the Rockies, he visits a place almost as remote to many Americans: these United States. . . . The author’s point is a good one: America is formed, in part, by a geographic setting that is both sanctuary and watchtower.”—The Wall Street Journal
“A brilliant reminder of the impact of America’s geography on its strategy. . . . Kaplan’s latest contribution should be required reading.”—Henry A. Kissinger
“A text both evocative and provocative for readers who like to think … In his final sections, Kaplan discusses in scholarly but accessible detail the significant role that America has played and must play in this shuddering world.”—Kirkus Reviews
Kaplan takes us on a spellbinding journey into the heart of a volatile region, stretching from Hungary and Romania to the far shores of the oil-rich Caspian Sea. Through dramatic stories of unforgettable characters, Kaplan illuminates the tragic history of this unstable area that he describes as the new fault line between East and West. He ventures from Turkey, Syria, and Israel to the turbulent countries of the Caucasus, from the newly rich city of Baku to the deserts of Turkmenistan and the killing fields of Armenia. The result is must reading for anyone concerned about the state of our world in the decades to come.
We live in dangerous times, when a new kind of leadership is required. Visionary and ruthlessly strategic, Warrior Politics extracts the best of the wisdom of the ages for modern leaders who are faced with the complex life-and-death challenges of today’s world—and determined to win.
Sun-Tzu urges leaders to “plan and calculate like a hungry man.” Machiavelli defines a policy not by its excellence but by its outcome. Churchill derives his greatness from his imagination of history. Livy shows that the vigor to face down adversaries must ultimately come from pride in our own past achievements. “Never mind if they call your caution timidity, your wisdom sloth, your generosity weakness,” he writes. “It is better that a wise enemy should fear you than that foolish friends should praise.” “Men often oppose a thing merely because they have no agency in planning it,” Alexander Hamilton says, “or because it may have been planned by those whom they dislike.”
Replete with maxims, warnings, examples from history, and shrewd recommendations, Warrior Politics wrests from the past the lessons we need to arm ourselves for the present. It offers an invaluable template for any decision-maker—in foreign policy or in business—faced with high stakes and inadequate knowledge of a mine-filled terrain. As we gear ourselves up for a new kind of war, no book is more prescient, more shrewd, or more essential.
The end of the Cold War has not ushered in the global peace and prosperity that many had anticipated. Volatile new democracies in Eastern Europe, fierce tribalism in Africa, civil war and ethnic violence in the Near East, and widespread famine and disease—not to mention the brutal rift developing as wealthy nations reap the benefits of seemingly boundless technology while other parts of the world slide into chaos—are among the issues Kaplan identifies as the most important for charting the future of geopolitics. Historical antecedents in Gibbon's Decline and Fall and in the legacies of statesmen such as Henry Kissinger contribute to this bracingly prophetic framework for addressing the new global reality. Bold, erudite, and profoundly important, The Coming Anarchy is a compelling must-read by one of today's most penetrating writers and provocative minds.
Reporting from Sudan, Ethiopia, Somalia, and Eritrea, Kaplan examines the factors behind the famine that ravaged the region in the 1980s, exploring the ethnic, religious, and class conflicts that are crucial for understanding the region today. He offers a new foreword and afterword that show how the nations have developed since the famine, and why this region will only grow more important to the United States. Wielding his trademark ability to blend on-the-ground reporting and cogent analysis, Robert D. Kaplan introduces us to a fascinating part of the world, one that it would behoove all of us to know more about.