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Publisher's Summary

A bracing assessment of US foreign policy over the past two decades, anchored by a major new essay commissioned by the Pentagon about changing power dynamics among China, Eurasia, and America - from the best-selling author of The Revenge of Geography.
Drawing on decades of firsthand experience as a foreign correspondent and military embed for The Atlantic and deep reading that ranges from the lessons of Thucydides and Sun Tzu to contemporary outcomes in the Middle East, Robert D. Kaplan makes a powerful case for what timeless principles and factors should shape America's role in the world: a respect for the limits of Western-style democracy, a delineation between American interests versus American values, an awareness of the psychological toll of warfare, a projection of military power via a strong navy, and much more.
In a series of vivid and clear-eyed assessments, renowned foreign policy analyst Kaplan describes an increasingly unstable world - and how American strategy should adapt accordingly.
©2018 Robert D. Kaplan (P)2018 Random House Audio
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Critic Reviews

"When it comes to geopolitics and the analysis of world affairs, Robert D. Kaplan is the best in the business. These essays are not only astonishing in their breadth, depth and range, but beautifully crafted and accessible." (John Bew, professor at the War Studies department, King's College London, author of Realpolitik: A History and Castlereagh: A Life)
"A characteristically thoughtful and provocative collection of essays from Robert D. Kaplan, born of his own Marco Polo-like wanderings and rich grasp of history. Elegant and compelling, these prescient pieces are a valuable guide to the endlessly complicated geopolitics of Eurasia, and what it all means for Americans in the decades ahead." (Ambassador William J. Burns, president, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, and former Deputy Secretary of State)
"Robert D. Kaplan has long been one of the most unrelenting realistic commentators on the rough, mean, conflictual world disorder that has evolved since the Cold War. This compelling collection of essays on prospects for war and peace distills his insights on a wide range of crucial issues, events, and personalities. He provides a compelling antidote to the facile optimists in the ethnocentric western intelligentsia. Read it with a stiff drink in hand, but be ready to be excited." (Richard K. Betts, director of the Saltzman Institute of War and Peace Studies, Columbia University)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
4 out of 5 stars
By Jeff Beardsley on 05-19-18

Essays on the Region of the Silk Road

One literary topic that I have been fascinated with for many years is that of the Silk Road; both the ancient and modern variants. I have been fortunate enough to travel through many regions connected with the Silk Road (though Western China has yet to feature in those travels), and have learned much about its geography, history, culture, politics and its people. About 10 years ago I even completed my Master’s Thesis on an issue related to this topic. Great Game, Iron Silk Road, One Belt One Road, Ancient Samarkand and Bukhara: these images and thoughts stir my mind. So…any chance I have to read more about the topic, I am game.

“The Return of Marco Polo's World: War, Strategy, and American Interests in the Twenty-First Century” by Robert Kaplan certainly draws from this issue of the Silk Road, but dwells mostly on the modern version and its geopolitical machinations. This is not a book which moves through a thesis in straight form but is rather a compilation of Kaplan’s writings over the past ten years or so. Many of these directly address the Marco Polo geography (think Central Asian “Stans, Iran, Western China, etc.), but at times goes beyond this region. It definitely addresses U.S. and Chinese policy in the region to a great extent. A few of Kaplan’s points that stuck out to me are the following:

• Central Asia will be the place that reveals to us who has the upper hand in regional power.
• Pakistan will be the register that proves if China's “One Belt One Road” policy will work.
• The United States must move from a policy of domain control to one of domain denial in Asia.
• Assessing the Samuel P. Huntington’s “The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order” more than 20 years later.
• The dangers of Utopianism and the advantages of Realism in a Global context.
• The next 30 years of China's future will not be as easy as the last 30 years of Chinese history.

If any of these points strike your interest and find you wanting to know more about the topic, than I can highly recommend this book. It is a quick read. And, while I was hoping for a bit more than a compilation of essays in this book, it did inform me a great deal beyond my studies of the region. My only real complaint was that many of the essays are dated at this point, and a lot of history has happened in the interim; meaning, the book as a whole may not always read as up-to-date as the reader would wish.

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5 out of 5 stars
By Geoffrey C. Graham on 04-09-18

Another excellent book from Robert D. Kaplan

Recommend Marco Polo’s World as a single point of reference on today’s world, and as a gateway to his other recent books: especially Monsoon, Asia’s Cauldron, and The Revenge of Geography.

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