The Second World: How Emerging Powers Are Redefining Global Competition in the Twenty-first Century
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The Second World: How Emerging Powers Are Redefining Global Competition in the Twenty-first Century

3.6 of 5 stars 3.60  ·  rating details  ·  262 ratings  ·  50 reviews
In The Second World, scholar Parag Khanna, chosen as one of Esquire’s 75 Most Influential People of the Twenty-First Century, reveals how America’s future depends on its ability to compete with the European Union and China to forge relationships with the Second World, the pivotal regions of Eastern Europe, Central Asia, South America, the Middle East, and East Asia that ar...more
Paperback, 496 pages
Published February 10th 2009 by Random House Trade Paperbacks (first published 2008)
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(showing 1-30 of 644)
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James Murphy
Khanna's premise is that at present the first world is divided into three almost hemispheric-correlating power centers: the U. S., the European Union, and China. The countries making up the second world are those caught between the stable and prosperous and those who're poor and unstable, the third world. Khanna says those second world countries will determine, through alliances, which of the big 3 power centers will dominate in the future. He's heavily influenced by Toynbee's ideas of how the w...more
Jill
I had really high hopes for this book. I thought it would provide a good introduction and overview on developments in such diverse regions as Central Asia, the Magrheb and the Mashreq. Plus, it trumpeted its status as an NYT Idea of the Year on the back cover.

I've since come to the conclusion that the high praise for Khanna's book came from people who don't actually know anything about the regions covered in The Second World. And don't mind the fact that Khanna's book is really a collection of...more
Assem Salih
I’ve read his chapters on the Middle East; Egypt, Saudi, and the rest of the GCC states. I expected far more from this book. While Khanna’s style of writing is really attractive, the amount of information, research, and even analysis was really shallow. Nothing in the Middle East chapters more than what you read in NYT, TIME, or Newsweek.
Patrick
Very good info but not great. In the end, it boils down to geopolitical concerns of natural resources vs globalization.

The two global impulse are geopolitics and globalization with concomitant access to natural resources, power, and stability. He states the 2nd world economies is where the opportunity as well as huge risks lie b/c of its unreliable governments. He states that the US should have a "diplomatic-industrial complex. The three superpowers in the world are the US with its diplomatic co...more
Plucino
"Better Than Toilet Paper."

The underlying idea of the book is that there are 3 superpowers (EU, China, USA) - the First World - and they are competing to gobble mouthfuls of the Second World. Some Second World countries are smart enough to negotiate the process, like Kazakhstan or Malaysia; others will be ripped apart like Iraq or Russia.

I misunderstood it for an essay on a par with Brzezinski's "The Grand Chessboard", but it is yet another travelogue.

The below pattern appears in so many non-fic...more
Nick
This book is a global tour of a dizzying number of nations that is supposed to illustrate Khanna's assertion that there are three "empires" in today's world, China, the European Union and the U.S. This is an interesting and readbale book but I would have preferred a fuller exposition of Khanna's thesis illustrated by a few in-depth examinations of say, 5-7 countries. His attempt to name them all leads to a kind of superficial expertise, as when he talks about the way Islamic extremists are takin...more
Cameron
I thought for a few weeks last year that Parag Khanna would be the next big thing. I couldn't help but like him, he'd written a brilliant NYT magazine article and he looked so dapper... But a brilliant article can easily get stretched into a bland and plodding book. After the Russian Devolution and Ukranian chapters (which were informed and enjoyable) it was all progressively downhill and muddy. It wasn't that anything Khanna wrote was objectionable, but very little in the book convinced me to t...more
Max
This scope of this book was extremely ambitious. Basically an overview of all of the pivotal countries and regions of the world. The author is well-traveled and has been to all of these places and talked with local people there, giving him valuable perspective. The theme of the book was less ambitious, which was probably why I liked it much better than Huntington or Fukuyama. The world is too complicated to fit into a single geopolitical metaphor. Khanna's theme is that we are moving into a mult...more
Howard Olsen
The basic concept of this book is tantalizing: a survey of the "second world" - those countries which straddle the economic line between the developed countries of the first world and the poor countries of the third world. Unfortunately, Khanna is a glib"citizen of the world" who tries too hard to seem knowing. I almost put the book down when I saw the title of the first chapter: "Brussels: The New Rome." Excuse me? What follows was a short (6 pages!) description of the wonders of the European U...more
Gary
You can read excerpts on my blog site:
http://bitsfrommyreading.blogspot.com/ There is a link to it on my “goodreads” profile page under “website.”

My Review
Inspired by Arnold Toynbee’s 1958, 12 volume A Study of History; Parag Khanna grasp of the current world condition is written from the perspective of a serious and concerned world citizen. Khanna gives the reader historic background ancient and recent and gives us quotes leaders from the four corners of the planet and everywhere between. He do...more
Paulo Jan brasil
So distorted analysis , typical American approach, full of personal opinions that sounds as the perfect truth. Lots of errors and out of time. Moreover , it was written before the global crisis of 2008.
Marc L
If you're interested in International Relations, and you're fed-up with the classic powergame-analysis, this is your book. Khanna has produced a book that is breathtaking in its scope: he covers almost the whole world (with the very sad exception of subsaharan Africa), some 30 countries are screened, pointedly, most of them within 2-3 pages. The overall picture: the American empire is in decline, Europe is a very good alternative, but China will certainly rule the waves, by 2050. Khanna's great...more
Anne H. Bakke
All about politics and economics of first, second and third world countries affected by globalisation and geopolitics. A great insight of the societies of the world. Khanna uses a lot of images in his language to display opinions, and it works very well.

Summarised:
USA jumps into a conflict and ultimately, makes a fool of itself. EU comes along and establishes diplomatic talks, invests and build democracy through either expansion or its neighbourhood policy. China buys everyone out and wins. Thi...more
Loraine
I like this book. It is certainly informative in what I was looking for. However, I find myself questioning as I am reading. The biggest question for me is whether it is still valid in 2012. The world has changed since this book was written and it is this new, changed world that I want to understand. There are plenty of other books on my summer reading list that I hope will serve my search just as well. I am putting this one down reluctantly after 60 pages. I look at chapters unread and wish it...more
H Wesselius
Read like a series of briefing notes. He rightly critizes the US but fails in his conclusion to offer needed changes to US policy. Given his admiration for the EU and the Chinese, he could have suggested ways the US could emulate their examples. I question his analysis of Venezuela (anti) and Columbia (pro) - surprisingly one sided given his balanced approach elsewhere. He alludes to but does not outright state the damage the Washington consensus and IMF shock therapy did to US credibility in La...more
UChicagoLaw
would recommend the book by Fareed Zakaria: The Post-American World and another by Parag Khanna: The Second World: Empires and Influence in the New Global Order. Both books offer thoughtful insights in the ongoing shifts in the balance of power that reshape the international order. They provoke discussions on the opportunities and challenges that America faces as its relative power declines and as it adapts to an increasingly multi-polar world. These books and the discussion surrounding them ins...more
Katherine Collins
I like this book because it contains a lot of commentary on countries rarely mentioned in the daily news (except for crisis situations). Though it is always tricky to draw broad geopolitical conclusions in a finite number of pages or minutes, I am also intrigued by Parag’s focus on the contrast between economic and infrastructure boundaries versus national boundaries.
Allen
I will admit to not reading this cover to cover. I was interested in reading the section on Central Asia, in addition to the introduction and conclusion. I thought the author provided a decent overview of various countries classified as "Second World" but almost tried to do too much. I felt like I wanted a deeper analysis than was present in this book, and thought this might be in the conclusion. However, the conclusion was a long discussion of how the United States may be descending into Second...more
Cheryl Klein
This book is going to shape my worldview for a long time, I think. It's a great overview of how the current geopolitical powers (U.S., the E.U. and China) exert their influence on "second world" (i.e., partially developed) countries, and how those countries can best interact with the big guys to further their own development. Let's just say the U.S. better get its act together fast if it wants to stay a first-world country.

Khanna is clearly an excellent researcher and theorizer, but he also wri...more
Indigotulip
Started with great interest, got dragged down in the youthful, pompous academic style which inhibited communication. I believe there were some great ideas in there and also many good facts and situations, however the style and density put me off. Probably great for a college class or background basics for a thesis or work. I suppose I was looking for a more approachable read at the time. I could return to this at some later date and find it what I was looking for, given the topic, however, with...more
Keith
I never saw a book use the word "diaspora" as much as this one. I actually want to go back and count.

That said, an interesting book that covers a tremendous amount of ground. Perfect for my short attention span, the chapters read more like magazine articles, something you'd encounter in The Economist, perhaps. I've read some other reviews of this book stating that there was a serious need for fact checking, but it could possibly be that the author's tone is less factual, more opinionated. Certa...more
Debarun
This dude can write well, but he is a hyped up fuck up. Says, Palestine issue can be solved by infrastructure and greater flow of capital. Now isn't that utopian? So what's wrong with the utopian notion of attaining statehood. Zizek is right when he says under a global capitalist order the most realistic solution is portrayed as the most utopian.

The book isn't a complete waste of time simply because he is a good writer, but there ain't much to learn from this shit text.
Virginia
This book should be required reading for everyone in foreign affairs. For me it was a total eyeopener into the shifting political loyalities of the inbetween countries. Empire building, naturl resources, trade routes, corruption and greed, fear and military build up, ecological disaster, criminal syndicates in government, spies and doublecrosses: these are our world history and our present day state. The odds are stacked against us.
Kelley
A graduate student's mind dump of information and disembodied quotes about rising countries and the struggle for their place in the world. Not my favorite, but a good overview of the emerging world order from a geo-economic perspective. A good companion book is Robert Kagan's The Return of History and the End of Dreams.
Timothy
So far, so ordinary...admittedly not far in, but up to now I've learned very little apart from the author's biases against very "emerging" countries (Russia in particular)...I admire and applaud his pro-Europeanism, but in general unless things change soon I think the last 200 or 300 pages will remain unread....
Justin
As a man woefully naive of current day political, economic and military power, this served as a fascinating geopolitical tutorial. Book's made up of bite sized snapshots of countries and powerbases around the world which for all that they might be a little short on detail are highly relevant and very readable.
Glen
The Second World points out how important the need is of the United States to alter it's foreign policy if the U.S. hopes to compete with China and the European Union in the future. The lesson to be learned from this book is one that no politician or corporate fat cat will admit or want to hear.
Peter
Very good study of terrorism and the US/Western response to Jihadism and the Islamic world and the consequence of confusing the two. Would have liked more depth on some topics that are touched on (Liberation Theology). Enjoyed the author's writing style.
Ososki
Great view of where the world is headed in the 21st century. You will understand the theory in the first few chapters. The book is very dense, and most of it could be better used as a reference depending on which part of the world has your interest.
Nickpalumbo
Great survey of the world as it is in 2008 and the role and opportunities that second world countries (most of the world)have in shaping the empire plans of the U.S., E.U, and China. Iraq and Afganistan suddenly make sense.
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