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An Empire Wilderness: Travels Into America's Future

3.87 of 5 stars 3.87  ·  rating details  ·  326 ratings  ·  23 reviews
Full of surprises and unusual revelations . . . an informed and disturbing portrait of the new American badlands."--"Chicago Tribune"
"[Kaplan is] tireless, curious, and smart. . . . I cannot imagine anyone will concoct a more convincing scenario for the American future." --Thurston Clarke, "The New York Times"
With the same prescience and eye for telling detail that disti
Paperback, 416 pages
Published September 7th 1999 by Vintage Books (first published 1998)
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Aaron Crossen
An interesting take on the nature of American federalism and democracy in the 21st century and beyond. Here, Kaplan applies his pessimistic worldiew of gradually eroding political boundries to the U.S., envisioning an increasingly separtist union, with wealthy, fortress-like suburbs becoming completely detached from urban cores, which will come to resemble the chaotic cities of West Africa and elsewhere.

But his anarchy thesis is applied with some difficulty and most haphazardly. Specifically, hi
This book was lengthy and depressing. It predicts a future for the U.S. that is increasingly economically hierarchic, in which the rich live increasingly in gated, guarded "pods", more connected to foreigners via the internet than they are to their geographical neighbors of different races and classes, and in which ultimately current boundaries (and nationalisms) erode. His writing about current borders not making sense and how they came to be is interesting and thought provoking. His descriptio ...more
Mike Keane
kaplan has an awesome process for writing - travel. his predictive, historic, social commentary is informed by an examination of cultural geography, urban planning and demographic shifts. He looks at the big picture. he isn't afraid to go to the worst places in order to understand them and works to solve problems through his writing and analysis. for those interested in urban planning, public policy, geography, history, etc. This is somewhat dense and not a quick read but worth the effort.
Pat Rolston
I really enjoy good travel writing and have read most all things by Paul Theroux. Where Theroux writes from a perspective that captures the range of human behaviors from the comic to the absurd to the profound Mr. Kaplan may be classed as one who distills the culture and social trends into a futurist commentary. In this case being my first Kaplan book I did not have any expectations and it was a used book that was basically free. As such I really enjoyed the experience and as one who used to en ...more
An Empire Wilderness 07222010 - Into America's Future by Robert D. Kaplan
The Man Without Qualities by robert Musil
The Pacific Northwest: An Interpretive History by Carlos Arnaldo Schwantes
History of Peloponnesian War by Thucydides
The Bridge by Hart Crane poem 1930
Bernard De Voto histories of the West
Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town by Stephen Leaconk's collection of stories - see Jack Hodgins's Canadians love law and order-the policemanis a national symbol
Ecotopia by Ernest Callenba
Around 1995, Kaplan traveled along the southern states and the Pacific Northwest and relates his experiences in this book. His comments are mostly about the history of the locales that he goes to, the patriotism of the American nation and the urban planning of its cities (or lack thereof).

He comments on the policy vacuum in cities like St Louis, the coming wrongheadedness of individualism, or the Asianization of Cascadia. A great book that broadens one's horizons.

A highlight of the book is the s

If all of our human behavior could be explained through simple logic, probably everything would be tremendously easier. Mass transit, for one, would be a lot better, and with logical, rational food-distribution, we'd have feeding troughs running into inner cities. Fresh vegetables! Plenty of fruits! Less red meat!

Unfortunately, we're quite the illogical species. It means more Big Macs and more Whoppers. It means the disorderly / anarchistic / world-leading USA.

The story of how I got t
Take Kaplan's travel writing seriously, but not his insights into America's future.

This is an above-average travel book...nothing more. If you hope to read about interesting physical and social geographies and thought-provoking viewpoints about the future of the American west, you will not be disappointed. Kaplan is a good travel writer.

Even though Kaplan expresses well-reasoned opinions (some of which I agreed with), this is not a comprehensive study of trends and statistics foretelling Americ
A lo largo de su viaje, el autor analiza la relevancia que tendrá -o que ya está teniendo- la consolidación de las ciudades-estado como contrapeso al gobierno federal, gracias al reordenamiento de los intereses económicos en Estados Unidos; para ello aborda tópicos como el localismo y el nacionalismo en diversas regiones de dicho país.
Pero curiosamente, y aunque comprendo su impacto sobre México, este libro me ha hecho pensar menos en el futuro de aquel país que en lo siguiente: ¿qué sería de la
This author travelled extensively around the United States, Mexico, and Canada, talking to people and trying to determine the future of the North American region. He was too optimistic. Although he saw the rise of a drug culture in Mexico, he also predicted that the international borders both north and south would become less significant and that in fact, the Pacific Northwest might even merge with Western British Columbia to become a unified economy. (Quebec seemed on the verge of seceeding fro ...more
A bleak look at the hollowing out of the civic heart of America. Kaplan was writing just as the old century ended, but his thoughts are no less applicable in post-2008 post-Meltdown America: a vision of a globalised entrepreneurial and financial class floating above broken national boundaries; fortified suburbs and wealthy urban enclaves hived off and separated by private security from decaying city cores; and a middle class broken by global competition for lower wages. It's really Wm. Gibson's ...more
Mark Selby
This book reads like a compliation of magazine articals. The author was a writer for The Atlantic. While the book is over ten years old now, it is interesting to compare his predictions to what is now occuring. Also, the author travels to several western cities with which I am acquainted. So interesting to read his take of each. Kaplan discusses geography and determination, which is the subject of his current book.
A low-key book about the southwestern American states that is a little slow going but if you stick it out, the rewards are in the journey. His description of the Canyon de Chelly was such that I arranged to visit the canyon with a Navajo guide on a visit to Arizona. I wasn't disappointed, it is an incredible place with an elegance of its own and a must-see if you ever get to visit the area.
Ryan Sencer
Dec 10, 2007 Ryan Sencer rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone
I've been talking about aspects of this book with family, friends, my wife (she's sick of hearing about it), and colleagues. It is a wonderfully insightful look into what "frontier America" is becoming or may have already become. Some of the figures and facts may be a little dated, but the spirit with which Kaplan writes and analyzes is still alive and current.
I have been an admirer of Robert Kaplan for many years. This account of a drive west with significant stops along the way, and insightful interviews with various individuals results in a very perceptive look at the country we are in the process of becoming.
He's quite a pesimist, but I enjoyed this book. It touches on Portland a bit too. He has good things to say about us, while often trashing the rest of the country. I like his style.
After reading a 3 of Kaplan's books on Elsewhere, I bought this. He takes a trip to the American West and Northwest,visiting the present and forecasting the future. Excellent.
Timothy Rynders
Aug 24, 2007 Timothy Rynders rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: people interested in the west
A fascinating look at what the US (mostly western) is, and why. Such a bright scholar and an excellent writer, Kaplan never disappoints.
I love books like this--where the author travels around a particular country and then makes worthwhile observations. Great stuff.
Rachael Thomas
Maybe not as current as it once was, but I remember this book being an eye opener for me
I learned a lot about my own country by reading this book.
John Lundquist
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Robert David Kaplan is an American journalist, currently a National Correspondent for the Atlantic Monthly. His writings have also been featured in The Washington Post, The New York Times, The New Republic, The National Interest, Foreign Affairs and The Wall Street Journal, among other newspapers and publications, and his more controversial essays about the nature of U.S. power have spurred debate ...more
More about Robert D. Kaplan...
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