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The Revenge Of Geography: What the Map Tells Us About Coming Conflicts and the Battle Against Fate

3.74  ·  Rating details ·  3,770 ratings  ·  467 reviews
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
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Hardcover, 403 pages
Published September 11th 2012 by Random House, Inc.
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Adam Christian There is only one way to devour a whale: one bite at a time. (House of Cards).

I had to take my time on this - if you're a prolific reader like I am,…more
There is only one way to devour a whale: one bite at a time. (House of Cards).

I had to take my time on this - if you're a prolific reader like I am, go slow. Have a 2nd and even 3rd book to read consecutively. When it becomes overwhelming - look at your world map and look at what he's talking about and then grab book two and let it settle in the back of your brain.

That's the best I got, Manish!

Adam(less)
Matt Gosney Definitely, read one or the other - I think Prisoners of Geography is better.

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Riku Sayuj
Aug 05, 2013 rated it really liked it

The Revanche of the Geographers

There are books one turn to sometimes, not for improving knowledge but to be reminded of the extent of ones ignorance. This has turned out to be one more of such books even though I had gone in thinking I was ready.

Many times in my overzealous nature, I have jumped into books which I was unable to appreciate fully because of a lack of background. In such cases, usually I end up grasping the full implications of many of the ideas only later - when some other author
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James
Sep 22, 2012 rated it it was ok
A disappointing read, almost painful at times, and a missed opportunity. There is useful content here but it is poorly organized. The book reads like a series of rambling lectures. The text is verbose and repetitive; brace yourself for frequent appearances of the phrases, as noted, as we have seen, and as I have explained. Was there no editor for Revenge? And forget about using this book as a reference text for there is no index.

Much space is given over to describing national and geographic
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Krishna
Feb 11, 2013 rated it liked it
Kaplan argues that geography still matters for the way societies and nations organize themselves and project power in their neighborhoods and beyond. This is a necessary corrective to post-modern, 'the world is flat,' vision of globalization that seems to hold sway at the moment. As usual, Kaplan delivers an insightful, thought-provoking work marked by a deep knowledge of the peoples and states he talks about.

Kaplan first reviews in part 1, a number of theories of geopolitics, including
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Ken
Sep 08, 2012 rated it it was ok
"Revelatory prism?" No. Frankly, I read a lot of geopolitics and there aren't any new revelations here. I was fairly disappointed in this book, written by someone with tremendous expertise in the field. Although it contains some interesting and even exciting ideas, the text is not well-conceptualized and I am left with the belief that an awful lot was left on the table. The first concern is that it is not clear what audience Kaplan is writing for. On the one hand, the style assumes a significant ...more
Sam
Jun 29, 2013 rated it did not like it
I read all kinds of books and seldom really dislike one. But Kaplan's simplistic geographic determinism, vast generalizations, and location-dropping in this one really drove me crazy. India's monsoonal cycle makes people meditative and religious? Seriously!?

He seems to be trying to win an argument about whether geography's still important. But who's he arguing against? Who seriously thinks geography is no longer relevant? It seems like this book is part of some silly intramural argument with
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Lyn Elliott
Apr 12, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was resolved to read this book to get a better understanding of some of the long term structural issues underlying international politics and it took all my resolve to persist through the meandering first chapters.
It was worth it in the end. Despite the clunky style, statements of the obvious and sometimes circular arguments, I now have a much better idea of the pressure points for each of the major global pressure points (though Africa remains virtually unknown territory). That's why I've
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Dale
Sep 15, 2012 rated it did not like it


I don't quit reading books often, but I had to throw in the towel on this one, which is disappointing considering I've read so many of Kaplan's books in the past. The key here, evidently, being "the past," meaning a different period in my life.

I found this book to be exhausting, as if Kaplan tries entirely too hard to come across as a scholar. I quickly grew tired of the endless citations and quotes with little actual insight from the author. A fascinating subject unfortunately presented in a
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Mal Warwick
Sep 27, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
A Fresh and Thought-provoking View of Global Politics

Geopolitics the subject of this fascinating book has literally been on my mind almost throughout my life.

I had recently turned three when the Allies invaded Normandy, beginning the long, last phase of World War II in Europe. I have no active memory of the invasion, but Ive been told that I learned to read by studying the news about the event and its aftermath. My father read the newspaper at dinner, and I sat opposite him, leaning over the
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Wanda
Feb 01, 2013 rated it did not like it
Stupid name for a trite book redeemed by a few good lines and an occasional useful insight. As for the title, the "influence" or the "significance" of geography would have made sense, but "revenge"?

Kaplan, who served in the Israeli army but not in the American army (he is old enough to have served in Vietnam), seems to have lot more interest in and knowledge of the middle east than of America and its Latin neighbors, especially Mexico. V.D. Hanson's Mexifornia has a lot more interesting and
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Ana
Whilst I am just at the beginning of my forray in and journey through the field of geopolitics, I get the distinct feeling that this book is not what it was supposed to be. The title has no tangible connection to the actual work (unless I am mistaken on the meaning of the word 'revenge'), there are some gross generalizations made in order to get points through and sometimes, what I consider to be blatant mistakes. What do you mean, the Chinese had 'no interest in exploring until the XIII ...more
Carol Smith
Sep 14, 2012 rated it liked it
Well, I wont lie. That was more than a bit like eating my peas (with apologies to peas; I really like them). I knew it was good for me, but it wasnt necessarily enjoyable.

I had to approach this book in periodic bursts over a month's time. Many readers claim to have no problem with abandoning a book they dont enjoy. Im not one of them. Im hell bound to finish my peas, even if theyve gone cold because I keep walking away from the table for periods of time. Stubborn, I guess.

Its hard to identify
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Carolyn
Kaplan here displays his usual depth and erudition, giving us a new view of geopolitics with the focus on geography, which he regards as far more important than we usually consider it. He starts in Section I with a summary of the thoughts of great minds on the topic, from Herodotus to Kissinger and beyond. In Section II he focuses on a number of significant states, civilizations, and empires past and present, including China, India, Russia, Iran, Iraq, Turkey, and Afghanistan. He refers to ...more
Sarah Clement
Aug 29, 2017 rated it liked it
Reading this book was more like reading a poetic take on how geography affects geopolitics than a coherent and robust theory on why geopolitics are as they are. If you find the work of Jared Diamond compelling, then you will probably enjoy this too; but if you are like me, you will find the cherry picking and lack of counterfactuals quite jarring. To his credit, Kaplan isn't as bold as Diamond, in that he more strongly acknowledges the role of many factors, of which geography is just one. But at ...more
Phrodrick
May 19, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed The Revenge of Geography by Robert D. Kaplan, even as I am mindful of some of the more critical of its reviews. Mr. Kaplan lays out a series of intelligent discussions built around the interrelationship between geography and history. It is part of my job to look at events and ask why here (not there) and will it be here again? As such geological determinism is an implied concept in my profession. Beyond my professional predilection to accept some degree of determinism, Kaplan uses ...more
Arash
Mar 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
In the current climate of politics around the world, this book is a must read piece. The book provides a wide ranging and entertaining coverage of world affairs; and it links geographical and historical facts and events with contemporary politics and power struggles. I did not agree with all the judgments and analyses, but appreciated Kaplan's way of thinking, his deep insights, and his use of personal experiences and in depth knowledge of different countries in the book.
The author's
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Christopher
Dec 31, 2012 rated it did not like it
I've been holding off on writing a review of this book for a bit now because I'm not sure that I can express my frustration properly.

This book is an apologia for Western, even Victorian mindset in seeing the world. While Kaplan goes to great lengths to talk about how geography is not destiny and geostrategists have to avoid falling into the trap of determinism, his analysis of the world is still based on the philosphies of the mid-20th century and before, complete with disturbing discussions of
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B G
Jan 13, 2013 rated it really liked it
Finishing this book was bitter-sweet for me. I awaited the books arrival for so long and immediately dived head first. Upon finishing this book I feel both relieved and disappointed that it is not a hundred pages longer. As a geography student, I come to this book with significant knowledge on the subject matter already. However, I feel that to fully appreciate this book for all its merit, I would need a degree in Geography, Religion, Political Science, and History. Personally, I feel as though ...more
Jack
Feb 22, 2013 rated it it was ok
What a thorough disappointment! An important topic that needs to be discussed, particularly after two decades (or more, according to Kaplan) of liberal institutionalism/responsibility to protect adventurism (or the often ignored call for it, followed by neoconservative adventurism (unfortunately less ignored). Bringing back into discussion the realist worldview is necessary, and the importance of geography as a major factor in determining why the world works (or doesn't work) as it does (or ...more
CW
Nov 18, 2012 rated it really liked it
The Revenge of Geography takes geopolitics to an entirely new level. Robert Kaplan splits the book into essentially three parts. The first part looks at geopolitics in general and specifically looks at the theories of well respected intellectuals of the past. The second part of the book looks at the various areas of the world (Russia, China, India, Iran, etc.) where there is potential for conflict with neighboring countries or political unrest within. The last third of the book deals primarily ...more
J. S. Turner
Apr 04, 2013 rated it did not like it
Wow, this book was such a disappointment. Kaplan's writing and structure is very odd and dry. The book reads more like a doctoral thesis than a book. Kaplan spends so much time quoting others, I am not sure what he is trying to convey or who he is writing for.

Geography hinders, got it. The opening is nothing more than name dropping and a collection of praises to the "liberal idealist intellectual elites" regarding their thoughts on the shaping of the world. Kaplan is long-winded and like any
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Andrea
Feb 23, 2013 rated it did not like it
Kaplan, oh Kaplan. Amongst the plentiful quotations, name dropping, and historical references to pre-modernity, the reader cannot follow your point of view. Try putting the thesis first and then substantiate with pounds of evidence. Should you make it (and perhaps even follow) through the longwinded Kaplan's arguments, you will still find "Why Nations Fail" more compelling and much more relevant.
John
Sep 25, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The deterministic qualities of physical geography are often debated. Some argue that geography is irrelevant in the face of ideas and the inherent qualities of man. Others would argue that geography is what ultimately shapes human interaction. Robert Kaplan, perhaps America's most well-traveled correspondent and commentator, takes a more central position. He argues that geography can be minimized, and indeed it repeatedly has, but ultimately it cannot be defeated. The qualities of the ...more
Karin
The title is enticing and makes it sound like this book is going to be as interesting as it could be had it been better written and less political (I read it for current events and because I find the geographical importance interesting, but this book was very political). Also, I listened to some of this on audiobook, and the reader's voice combined with his style of reading and cadence I found irritating.

Kaplan spends a great deal of time discussing history of the areas as it pertains to
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Michelle
Apr 25, 2017 rated it liked it
This took me awhile to read as it is very academic, but as I studied geography and social sciences in college, I had an interest in finishing it. What continued to capture my attention throughout this book was that in reading it, I felt that Kaplan's interest (and passion) in geography felt similar to mine. To quote him: "Maps are crucial to any understanding of world politics...Geography is the backdrop to human history itself and can be as revealing about a government's long-range intentions ...more
Krista
Apr 24, 2019 rated it liked it
But really two-and-a-half stars because the writing style was uber-annoying. Kaplan's favorite phrase seems to be "Let me explain." Well, duh. That's why I'm reading the book.

Kaplan's thesis is that geography still matters, even in a world where environmental possibilism seems to be changing how we relate to the spaces we are in and the spaces we desire. I'm not sure he proved his thesis, really, but along the way, I at least learned a lot.

Kaplan states that a "map is the spatial representation
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Steven Peterson
May 11, 2013 rated it really liked it
Robert Kaplan contends in this book that geography matters a great deal in the unfolding of the human endeavor. Early on, he observes (Page xix): "I will introduce readers to a group of decidedly unfashionable thinkers, who push up hard against the notion that geography no longer matters." Ho notes that he does not contend that geography is destiny and is the only important factor in the world of human concerns. Nonetheless, once one finishes this book, he or she will realize that Kaplan thinks ...more
MarcosKtulu
Jan 15, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
To me, Kaplans work can be sumarized by the two unspecified goals of this book: to reapraise the discipline of geopolitics by outlining some of the theories and conclusions of some classical authors, mainly geographers and international theorists of the realist school of thought, as well as some naval experts. With the framework of geographical influence (yet not determinism) at hand, the other goal is to review and update the current state of international affairs, system by system, region by ...more
Lady Clementina ffinch-ffarowmore
This was an interesting read for me being a subject I know next to nothing abouthow the geography of a place or different places for that matter have affected and have a tendency to affect the course they have taken and that they will take. Kaplan discusses some of the theories on this proposed by different people such as Sir Halford Mackinder, Alfred Mahan, and Nicholas J Spykman, among others and how some of their predictions may have and are likely to come true. He not only talks of others ...more
Matt Kenson
Jun 05, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Part political theory, part travelogue, and mostly definitely a richly informed geography class, Kaplan's has written a hugely well researched, and oddly compelling book. It's obvious he's logged the miles, and given the global scope of this book, that's a bunch of miles. Compelling? Yes. The last chapter has timely advice about Mexico, even while the balance of the book doesn't spend time there. In one swift narrative, Kaplan puts surprising perspective on all the geography he's covered by ...more
Aaron Bright
Jan 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: strategy
Fantastic! This is one of those books that requires one to read a few paragraphs here and there a second time, just to make sure you got it, of course. Ill never look at a map the same way! ...more
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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

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Well, here we all are, sheltering in place, buying canned beans, and generally trying to figure out how to stay inside and keep our minds busy....
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“As Napoleon said, to know a nation's geography is to know its foreign policy” 22 likes
“Mass education, because it produces hosts of badly educated people liberated from fatalism, will contribute to instability (p. 123).” 5 likes
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