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Global Affairs Book Club: ‘The Revenge of Geography’

Global Affairs Book Club: ‘The Revenge of Geography’

Tue, Aug 24, 2021 6:30 PM - 8:00 PM Central Daylight Time (UTC-5)

Register here.

This book club session will be taking place on Zoom.

About this event

About the Book

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.

About the Author

ROBERT D. KAPLAN is the bestselling author of nineteen books on foreign affairs and travel translated into many languages, including The Good American, The Coming Anarchy, Balkan Ghosts, Asia’s Cauldron, Monsoon, and The Revenge of Geography. He holds the Robert Strausz-Hupé Chair in Geopolitics at the Foreign Policy Research Institute. For three decades he reported on foreign affairs for The Atlantic.

A senior adviser at Eurasia Group, he was chief geopolitical analyst at Stratfor, a visiting professor at the United States Naval Academy, a senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security, and a member of both the Pentagon’s Defense Policy Board and the U. S. Navy’s Executive Panel. Foreign Policy magazine twice named him one of the world’s “Top 100 Global Thinkers.”

New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman has called Kaplan among the four “most widely read” authors defining the post-Cold War (along with Stanford Professor Francis Fukuyama, Yale Professor Paul Kennedy, and the late Harvard Professor Samuel Huntington). Kaplan’s article, “The Coming Anarchy,” published in the February 1994 Atlantic Monthly, about how population rise, ethnic and sectarian strife, disease, urbanization, and resource depletion is undermining the political fabric of the planet, was hotly debated in foreign-language translations around the world. So was his December 1997 Atlantic cover story, “Was Democracy Just A Moment?” That piece argued that the democracy now spreading around the world would not necessarily lead to more stability. According to U. S. News & World Report, “President Clinton was so impressed with Kaplan, he ordered an interagency study of these issues, and it agreed with Kaplan’s conclusions.”

In the 1980s, Kaplan was the first American writer to warn in print about a future war in the Balkans. Balkan Ghosts was chosen by The New York Times Book Review as one of the “best books” of 1993. The Arabists, The Ends of the Earth, An Empire Wilderness, Eastward to Tartary, and Warrior Politics were all chosen by The New York Times as “notable” books of the year. An Empire Wilderness was chosen by The Washington Post and The Los Angeles Times as one of the best books of 1998. The Wall Street Journal named The Arabists one of the five best books ever written about America’s historical involvement in the Middle East. The Financial Times named Asia’s Cauldron one of the ten best political books of 2014.

Besides The Atlantic, Kaplan’s essays have appeared on the editorial pages of The New York Times, The Washington Post, the Financial Times, The Wall Street Journal, and The Los Angeles Times, as well as in all the major foreign affairs journals, including cover stories in Foreign Affairs. He has been a consultant to the U. S. Army’s Special Forces Regiment, the U. S. Air Force, and the U. S. Marines. He has lectured at military war colleges, the FBI, the National Security Agency, the Pentagon’s Joint Staff, the Defense Intelligence Agency, the CIA, major universities, and global business forums. He has briefed presidents, secretaries of state, and defense secretaries, Kaplan has delivered the Secretary of State’s Open Forum Lecture at the U. S. State Department. He has reported from over 100 countries. Two earlier books of his, Soldiers of God: With Islamic Warriors in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and Surrender or Starve: Travels in Ethiopia, Sudan, Somalia and Eritrea, have been re-issued, so that all his books are in print.

In 2004, Kaplan was given the Distinguished Alumni Award by the University of Connecticut. In 2009, he was given the Benjamin Franklin Public Service Award by the Foreign Policy Research Institute in Philadeplphia.

Robert D. Kaplan was born June 23, 1952 in New York City. He graduated in 1973 from the University of Connecticut, where he was the features editor of the Connecticut Daily Campus. In 1973 and 1974 he traveled throughout Communist Eastern Europe and parts of the Near East. From 1974 to 1975 he was a reporter for the Rutland Daily Herald in Vermont. In 1975, he left the United States to travel throughout the Arab and Mediterranean worlds, beginning a period of 16 years living overseas. He served a year in the Israel Defense Forces and lived for nine years in Greece and Portugal. He has been married to Maria Cabral since 1983. They live in the Berkshires in western Massachusetts. They have one son, Michael, who is married with two daughters and works for an investment bank in Boston.

About the Moderator

Fletcher D. Cox is an Associate Professor with tenure in the Political Science Department at William Jewell College. He specializes in international political economy, international peace and security, civil wars and political violence, and peacebuilding in divided societies from a comparative perspective. At the University of Denver, where he completed his Ph.D., Fletcher is a Global Fellow for the Institute for Comparative and Regional Studies, currently working as a Principal Investigator for the Inclusive Governance and Fragility Research Project (IGFRP), a comparative study of inclusive governance interventions and conflict prevention dynamics in collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). His research on political violence, peacebuilding, and democratization has been published with Peace and Change: A Journal of Peace Research, Oxford University Press, Routledge, and International IDEA. Fletcher also recently co-authored and co-edited a book titled, Peacebuilding in Deeply Divided Societies: Toward Social Cohesion, a comparative analysis of peace processes in seven conflict-affected countries funded by a major grant from the Henry Luce Foundation for Religion and International Affairs. In addition to his teaching and research experience, Fletcher studied international affairs and religion at Harvard University (MTS), and has managed relief, development, and peacebuilding programs in multiple disaster and conflict-affected communities including in Haiti, Nepal, Kenya, Rwanda, Sudan, and South Sudan.

Where to Obtain Book

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