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The Accidental Superpower: The Next Generation of American Preeminence and the Coming Global Disorder
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The Accidental Superpower: The Next Generation of American Preeminence and the Coming Global Disorder

4.35  ·  Rating details ·  2,789 ratings  ·  370 reviews
An eye-opening assement of American power and deglobalization in the bestselling tradition of The World is Flat and The Next 100 Years.
Near the end of the Second World War, the United States made a bold strategic gambit that rewired the international system. Empires were abolished and replaced by a global arrangement enforced by the U.S. Navy. With all the world's oceans s
Hardcover, 384 pages
Published November 4th 2014 by Twelve
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Douglas Hackney
Sep 24, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Those interested in geopolitics, cultures and societies.
Full disclosure: Like the author, I grew up in Iowa and live in Austin. Although those close to me will recognize many recurring themes between what they have heard (endlessly) from me for the last couple of decades and the content of this book, this is not my pseudonym and I did not write this book.

TLDR: This is a good read and is recommended.

Who will profit from reading this book:
Parents, business people, policy makers, teachers, young adults.

Like many bright, observant people who
Clif Hostetler
May 27, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: current-events
This book provides a thorough discussion of how geography and demographics have effected nations in history and the present, and where they will lead in the future. The main premise of this book is that during the cold war the United States was motivated by fear of Communism to support free global trade leading to financial prosperity among western nations, but conditions have now changed and in the future the USA will withdraw from the world stage, global trade will decrease, and nations of the ...more
Aug 24, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I think Zeihan hits the nail on the head in some cases, but very often misses the mark.

Zeihan’s key theory- that geography plays a huge influence on a country’s development, is a great framework through which to view and analyze history. Especially interesting were his views on capital flows in an economy and the key differences between capital rich and capital poor nations. In a country with poor geography capital is required to develop the land, this means less economic opportunities and upwar
Clayton Hauck
Oct 08, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Peter Zeihan succeeds at providing us with a hugely enjoyable read on what he thinks will shape the world in the coming decades. While he very well might be accurate, one must consider this is a complicated world and not one ruled entirely by geopolitics. My main takeaway was to rethink the forces which made this world what it is today. Having only been alive for 32 years, it's easy for me to forget or cast aside the seemingly-infinite human energy that shaped the planet we current live on — cul ...more
Pat Rolston
Aug 14, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
This is a MUST read to enhance anyone's perspective regarding the profound effects that demographics and geography have on geopolitics. One can argue the conclusions, but that is the fun in having an author provide suppositions as to how the world will look in the next 50 years. The data and analysis is compelling and entertaining in such a way as to leave the reader wanting more of this authors insights. He is a good writer with a profoundly interesting perspective that will enrich anyone's wor ...more
Feb 22, 2015 rated it did not like it
10% and already the blatant platitudes and omissions of convenience are too much. This book would make Thomas Friedman's mustache blush. Bail. ...more
Sep 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The motive of reading this book was a speech by Peter Zeihan at the 2020 CFA annual conference. I was so impressed by Peter's dynamic and high-energy style delivering brilliant comments about geopolitics.

This book started with how geography shapes international interactions, primarily focusing on what makes some countries more powerful than other and how US became the most powerful among all modern economies. The author had a particular emphasis on how Bretton Woods, demographic time bombs and
Jacek Bartczak
Jun 09, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Peter Zeihan analyses countries like consultants analyze company's business models. Resources, advantages, efficiency, value chains and (mostly hostile) acquisitions - I don't know whether he did so consciously or business and geopolitics have so much in common.

Geography matters more than I thought. China will matter less than I thought.

Pure geopolitics with a little bit of history provided in an easy-to-digest form. Eye-opening. Despite the fact, it is mostly (?) about predictions.

If you're f
Bartosz Majewski
Nov 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Eye-opening and bold forecast of the future embedded in the past and filled with a lot of economic data. Coherent and disturbing. I've started to listen to Zeihan's Disunited nations 20 days ago and I'm in the middle of his 3rd book - I think that is a sufficient recommendation. ...more
Dec 13, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Book very clearly presents the author's concept, so it's a 4-5 star on that basis. The real question is: does this concept reflect reality and have any predictive value? Undecided, but it's certainly interesting.

Essentially Zeihan's whole thing is "geography determines destiny" (via demographics and other factors). On the basis of geography alone, the US is clearly great, and a lot of other places are in trouble, and this gap will expand. Coupled with the aftereffects of WW2: 1) the baby boom an
Janet Lavine
Jul 12, 2017 rated it it was ok
A better title for this would be The Destined Superpower as Zeihan claims that there is really nothing accidental about the United States' preeminence in the world -- it seems to come down to geographic advantages (navigable rivers), shale (who needs oil anymore?) and its navy. And the rest of the world is doomed already or soon will be. Zeihan asserts that the US policy of protecting free trade everywhere has been the underlining of post WWII economies to this day but that the US is giving up t ...more
Jul 02, 2016 rated it did not like it
Crap for nonsense from a Stratfor alumnus

We have a new Tom "Teapot Tommy"/"My Head Is Flat" Friedman here, and that's not a complement.

I started repeatedly rolling my eyeballs before the end of the first chapter at the number of huge overgeneralizations plus outright inaccuracies.

Speaking of, I stopped reading by page 60 over this:

1. Claims that Phoenix, Las Vegas and Salt Lake City were near passes in the Rockies; and
2. The claims that Monterey and Chihuahua (City) were the only two "meaningful
Michael Douglas
Jun 24, 2017 rated it liked it
3.5 stars - This made for a thought provoking, very entertaining and often alarming read. I tend to have the feeling with books about geopolitics that the author suffers from "man with a hammer" syndrome and this was no exception. Bretton Woods, population pyramids and whether a country has a dense network of navigable rivers will seemingly seal its fate over the coming decades. To sum it up, if you're outside of North America you're in for a bumpy ride. I would have liked for it to take more in ...more
Paul Higbee
Jan 28, 2016 rated it did not like it
Do not waste time reading this book. Many episodes of Star Trek are more thoughtful and plausible.

To summarize: All is determined by geography, demographics and energy. America is uniquely positioned by excelling in all three and thus becomes the accidental superpower. America withdraws from everyone else and the world dissolves into a Hobbesian nightmare of wars and instability.

Vast oversimplification already being proven wrong by events. Author indulges himself with simplistic crystal ball rea
Sammer Abdin
Sep 26, 2015 rated it it was amazing
A thought provoking and interesting geopolitical analysis on the world’s history. Covers how the powers that be got to where they are today and takes a look at what the future may hold. You may not agree with everything he states, but his predictions are fascinating. The book overall is a great read.
Sep 04, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Here's why America is the greatest country in the world: the most navigable rivers & shorelines in the world (by a huge factor), geographic isolation from everyone else, and shale gas.

I'd never read anything on geopolitics (nor had I planned on it; this was recommended by a colleague) so I found this book very interesting. The premise being countries and territories are the way they are due to their geography & resources. Much of it makes sense, like navigable rivers = capital = industrial powe
May 17, 2021 rated it really liked it
Very interesting, informative, and entertaining. It seems to be a great introduction to geopolitics, especially with its awesome maps. The first half of the book is brilliant, describing the geographical advantages that led to America's rise. As he describes in the book, most of his talks cover that material before delving into specific details pertinent to the audience. As such, the second half is understandably more fragmented, although still very readable.

Of course, the book is all about pred
Rudyard L.
Jul 24, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: politics
Very good and bad parts of this book.

The good-His analysis of demographics is incredible. Some of his predictions on things like the Tatars, Alberta, the rise of Turkey etc..., seem brilliant.

The bad-His theories have no space for culture or government, which is likely the dominant factor in history. Some of his predictions just end up feeling stupid due to this. Yes, Mexico and Angola could geographically become great powers but both oligopolistic social systems that would prevent that from h
Fraser Kinnear
Jun 07, 2020 rated it liked it
The looming crisis of the contemporary [global economic] system is actually pretty straightforward. Everything that makes the global economy tick – from reliable access to global energy supplies to the ability to sell into the American market to the free movement of capital – is a direct outcome of the ongoing American commitment to Bretton Woods. But the Americans are no longer gaining a strategic benefit from that network, even as the economic cost continues. At some point – maybe next week, m
Jan 26, 2019 rated it liked it
Provocative and a lot of good ideas, but the author gets carried away in the second half of the book and makes a lot of ridiculous statements.

The book has two main points, and I thought both of them were pretty convincing. The first is that thanks to a number of geographical blessings, the area that is the United States was and is destined to be a world superpower. This is thanks to things such as the Mississippi river system (the US has more miles of navigable river than the rest of the world
Bill Powers
Aug 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you love a good analysis of geopolitical history, economics, geography and demographics, then this book is for you. This is one of the best non-fiction books I have read in years and I highly recommend.

“the Americans will return to the role that they played before World War II: a global power without global interests. No more guarding the Korean DMZ. No bases in Qatar. No Checkpoint Charlie. No patrolling the sea lanes. When it comes to the wider world, the Americans will just not care.”

Ashwin Chhabria
Feb 08, 2021 rated it really liked it
The Accidental Superpower is the USA. Superpower because it has the lengthiest navigable waterways, wide flat lands, its own oil (shale oil), one of (if not THE) strongest army and navy, very strong international ties owing to its resources, biggest consumer market(worth 11.5 trillion in 2014 - more than the next 6 nations combined) and lots more. Accidental because the US was given most of these things and did not have to work very hard to be a superpower. (Unlike Germany, for example which ha ...more
Mike Kershaw
Jun 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
The Revenge of Realism.” A review of The Accidental Superpower by Peter Zeihan (formerly of Stratfor) by Colonel (ret) Mike Kershaw.
Back in 2005, while I was attending the National War College (aka “The Flag Officer Finishing School”), I got to know the German Officer in our class. Like several of the European officers, he was well-versed in US policy and objectives – more so, in fact, than most US officers. While most of us breezed through the pages of “The Economist” in the sort of ‘reverse na
Nov 03, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: politics, non-fiction
This book essentially covers the reasons why the United States became a superpower, the global ramifications of how it occurred and what might happen next on a global stage.

That sounds like a really intense thing to cover, but Peter Zeihan does it in a very straight forward (and at times very funny) manner. This book was written with people like me in mind. People who don't necessarily follow global patterns, people who might only have a very vague passing interest in the topic.

Zeihan breaks dow
Apr 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
Phenomenal book that should be read by anyone interested in International Relations. Zeihan does an incredible job of putting the geo back in geopolitics in explaining how the world developed and how he thinks it will continue to change. I recommend reading the first eight chapters and skimming the last seven as the predictions can go a little astray.

- Bretton Woods - A new type of empire building. The United States sacrificed a chance to make itself into the only colonial power and instead inst
Darrin Bronson
Sep 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 03, 2021 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Chad Manske
Jun 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Well researched and argued, Peter Zeihan delivers an intriguing argument of US preeminence and bounty resting on the premise of its geography, geology, form of government and other factors that by accident allow it to survive as a superpower for many decades to come. Even if you don’t buy the premise, the facts underpinning the logical assumptions allow even pessimistic doubters to question their doubt. The Breton Woods Agreement of 1944 that establishes the modern economic order that has led to ...more
Oct 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
All my homies need to read this! It is super informative and frankly speaks straight truth. What Zeihan does is put together all the puzzle pieces of political events taking place around the world into a cohesive puzzle—displaying a picture of how the strifes of nation states will ultimately not hurt America. America will be just fine. I say that with confidence, now. As Zeihan said in the end, “we don’t have to do a damn thing,” the U.S. will be A-OK. Zeihan also said that we will have a lot of ...more
Everett Probasco
Jan 05, 2021 rated it really liked it
A solid book about the inherent resiliency of the American system, specifically how the energy independence contributes to that. I also enjoyed the various looks at difference states across the globe and how they don't compare by no fault of their own.

The aspect of this book that is lacking for me is HOW the coming disorder would come, specifically the dissolution of the 1940's era Bretton Woods system. The author did a great job explaining the stressors to it, but the prediction that it would
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Geopolitical Strategist Peter Zeihan is a global energy, demographic and security expert.

Zeihan’s worldview marries the realities of geography and populations to a deep understanding of how global politics impact markets and economic trends, helping industry leaders navigate today’s complex mix of geopolitical risks and opportunities. With a keen eye toward what will drive tomorrow’s headlines, h

News & Interviews

Juneteenth, observed on June 19th each year, is an American holiday commemorating the day in 1865 when the last enslaved people in Galveston,...
21 likes · 2 comments
“American involvement in the Persian Gulf has not been in order to secure energy supplies for the United States, but instead to supply energy for its energy-starved Bretton Woods partners in Europe and Asia. Put more directly, the Americans do not protect the Persian Gulf kingdoms and emirates so that the Americans can use Middle Eastern oil, but so that their Bretton Woods partners in Japan, Korea, China, Taiwan, Thailand, India, and Pakistan can.” 5 likes
“Geopolitical and demographic forces are so rooted in the unchangeable that political action often generates little but noise.” 3 likes
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