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The Revenge of Geography

What the Map Tells Us About Coming Conflicts and the Battle Against Fate

This book can be downloaded and read in iBooks on your Mac or iOS device.


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.
In The Revenge of Geography, Kaplan builds on the insights, discoveries, and theories of great geographers and geopolitical thinkers of the near 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. The Russian steppe’s pitiless climate and limited vegetation bred hard and cruel men bent on destruction, for example, while Nazi geopoliticians distorted geopolitics entirely, calculating that space on the globe used by the British Empire and the Soviet Union could be swallowed by a greater German homeland.
Kaplan 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. Remarkably, the future can be understood in the context of temperature, land allotment, and other physical certainties: China, able to feed only 23 percent of its people from land that is only 7 percent arable, has sought energy, minerals, and metals from such brutal regimes as Burma, Iran, and Zimbabwe, putting it in moral conflict with the United States. Afghanistan’s porous borders will keep it the principal invasion route into India, and a vital rear base for Pakistan, India’s main enemy. Iran will exploit the advantage of being the only country that straddles both energy-producing areas of the Persian Gulf and the Caspian Sea. Finally, Kaplan posits that the United States might rue engaging in far-flung conflicts with Iraq and Afghanistan rather than tending to its direct neighbor Mexico, which is on the verge of becoming a semifailed state due to drug cartel carnage.
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 Hardcover edition.

From Publishers Weekly

May 28, 2012 – 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.

Customer Reviews

The revenge of geography


Poorly organized and repetitive

A disappointing read, almost painful at times, and a missed opportunity. There is useful content here but it is poorly organized. The book reads like a series of rambling lectures. The text is verbose and repetitive; brace yourself for frequent appearances of the phrases, ‘as noted’, ‘as we have seen’, and ‘as I have explained’. Was there no editor for ‘Revenge’? And forget about using this book as a reference text for there is no index.

Much space is given over to describing national and geographic features since fewer than 10 maps are included, one of which is a map of the Persian empire in 500 BCE. And the book is mis-titled: it should have been called ‘The Revenge of Geography and History: What History and the Map Tells Us About Coming Conflicts and the Battle Against Fate’ since lengthy portions are given over to historical precedents dating back millennia. I was looking for a useful text on contemporary geopolitical trends but I am still looking. Kaplan's is not the one.

No maps

A book about maps with no maps.

The Revenge of Geography
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  • $12.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Politics & Current Events
  • Published: Sep 11, 2012
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Seller: Penguin Random House LLC
  • Print Length: 448 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

Customer Ratings