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Preview — Monsoon by Robert D. Kaplan
Monsoon: The Indian Ocean and the Future of American Power
On the world maps common in America, the Western Hemisphere lies front and center, while the Indian Ocean region all but disappears. This convention reveals the geopolitical focus of the now-departed twentieth century, but in the twenty-first century that focus will fundamentally change. In this pivotal examination of the countries known as “Monsoon Asia”—which include Ind...more
Again, the high rating is for the scholarship and the presentation, not for the views or the conclusions. Full review might follow, but my essential view on Kaplan's world vision can be found here.
Kaplan presents a survey of the Indian Ocean littoral – from Oman to Zanzibar - moving clockwise about the Sea in conscious imitation of the ancient periplous (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Periplous , which were descriptions of the Mediterranean, originally as seen from the side of a ship, moving clockwise around the Sea from the Straits of Gibraltar and back round again). Kaplan focuses on the geographical aspects, ...more
Kaplan is a far better travel writer than Friedman. You really get a feel for the vistas he takes in from his perches. His descriptions are wonderful, even if they are of tragic places and times. The book i ...more
This book is a study that takes the reader on a journey through a t ...more
One question goes begging - the author makes a great case for how the history of the Indian Ocean is one of trade and its consequences. But rarely is the potential role of the American corporations mentioned in this mix. Clearly globalization is not purely ...more
1) a seasonal change in the direction of the prevailing, or strongest, winds of a region
Monsoon winds can be very powerful and deadly, but are very predictable. It is their predictability that has helped the Indian Ocean and the surrounding countries become pivotal in history. These winds are so predictable, in fact, that sailing merchants were able to gauge when the perfect opportunity arrived to ride the winds and cover as much distance as possible.
The impor ...more
Kaplan does an excellent job of raising awareness of the growing importance of the Indian Ocean and its rimlands to modern geostrategic considerations. The key strength of the book is the style with which it is written. Kaplan draws the reader in through the personal nature of the journey he takes around the Indian Ocean. Providing vivid descriptions of Oman, India, Pakistan, Indonesia and Zanziba ...more
As far as I can tell, Kaplan is a fairly balanced moderate, politically speaking, when it comes to world affairs. More importantly, Kaplan seems to have traveled extensively around the area and many of his country portraits are utterly fascinating.
However, the book's weakness is that format...it sort of starts with an argument, the ...more
"Empires arise and fall. Only their ideas can remain, adapted to the needs of the people they once ruled. The Portuguese brought few ideas save for th ...more
The premise here is that the Indian Ocean has the potential to become the most important part of the ...more
In this book Kaplan doesn't build arguments, so much as he gives his impressions from travelling and mixes it with history lessons and IR opinions. Kaplan doesn't build a structured argument with multiple points to support his thesis. His writing isn't linear and it isn't the formal journal type of writing I expected to find. It curves a bit, bouncing from thoughts and sights, ranging from subjects as diverse as architecture to naval policy.
At first this made ...more
I was particularly interested i ...more