The Revenge of Geography by Robert D. Kaplan
What the Map Tells Us About Coming Conflicts and the Battle Against Fate


8 Critic Reviews

The result is an unconvincing reprise of an obsolete worldview.
-Publishers Weekly


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.

About Robert D. Kaplan

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Robert D. Kaplan is chief geopolitical analyst for Stratfor, a private global intelligence firm, and the author of fourteen books on foreign affairs and travel translated into many languages, including The Revenge of Geography: What the Map Tells Us About Coming Conflicts and the Battle Against Fate; Monsoon: The Indian Ocean and the Future of American Power; Balkan Ghosts: A Journey Through History; and Warrior Politics: Why Leadership Demands a Pagan Ethos. He has been a foreign correspondent for The Atlantic for more than a quarter-century. In 2011 and 2012, Foreign Policy magazine named Kaplan among the world's "Top 100 Global Thinkers." From 2009 to 2011, he served under Secretary of Defense Robert Gates as a member of the Defense Policy Board. Since 2008, he has been a senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security in Washington. From 2006 to 2008, he was the Class of 1960 Distinguished Visiting Professor in National Security at the U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis.
Published September 11, 2012 by Random House. 448 pages
Genres: History, Political & Social Sciences, Education & Reference, Nature & Wildlife, Science & Math. Non-fiction
Bestseller Status:
Peak Rank on Sep 30 2012
Weeks as Bestseller
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Critic reviews for The Revenge of Geography
All: 8 | Positive: 5 | Negative: 3


Jun 15 2012

Kaplan extends his academic argument to the early-21st-century map and offers predictions on how the historical logic will play out...A solid work of acuity and breadth.

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NY Times

Above average
Reviewed by ANNE-MARIE SLAUGHTER on Oct 05 2012

In the end, the revenge of geography will be the revenge of human as well as physical geography: a world much more, and much more democratically, of our making.

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Publishers Weekly

Below average
May 28 2012

The result is an unconvincing reprise of an obsolete worldview.

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WSJ online

Below average
Reviewed by Felipe Fernández-Armesto on Sep 12 2012

The author is justly celebrated as an adventurous, audacious and influential journalist, but his historical grasp is shallow and naïve.

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Reviewed by Alan Cate on Sep 18 2012

Cynics say war is God's way of teaching Americans geography. Agree or not, this thought-provoking volume is a much better way to learn.

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Foreign Affairs

Reviewed by G. John Ikenberry

Kaplan has remained an eloquent voice chronicling the darker undercurrents that limit cooperation and progress.

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The American Conservative

Reviewed by William Anthony Hay on Sep 13 2012

Geography, Kaplan argues persuasively, sets the framework within which contingency operates. International politics makes little sense without it.

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Global Times

Below average
Oct 25 2012

Unfortunately for Kaplan, his book is just as intellectually incoherent as any of the past theorists.

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