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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

4.36  ·  Rating details ·  2,344 ratings  ·  302 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
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Hardcover, 384 pages
Published November 4th 2014 by Twelve
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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
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.


Downsides:
Like many bright, observant people who
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Oleg
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
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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
Alex
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.
Ryan
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
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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
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.
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
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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
Socraticgadfly
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
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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
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B A
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
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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
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Tim
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
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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
Ciera
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
James
Nov 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
I like books that promise a sunny future without the need for a lot of hard work. Zeihan’s book delivers in spades. While I’m not sure I buy into the basic premises or his outlook, I’ll unashamedly admit I feel better for having read (listened to) it.
John
Oct 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: audiobooked
The tanker wars he predicted in 2015 have already started. How many of his other predictions will come true?

I had already audiobooked The Absent Superpower and had thought I could skip this, it took me a couple years but thankfully I’ve now righted that horrible wrong. This is so great.

It speeds by, and every paragraph is incredibly interesting. Who would have thought I’d ever be riveted by the likes of Uzbekistan, Alberta, and the Chechens?

The section on how Germany slingshotted into power by
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Phillip
Apr 24, 2020 rated it liked it
Seems like his predictions are already not panning out along his timeline. I learned a ton about the shifting of borders and national resources
Christopher E. Ostrom
Excellent read!

Great book to explain some of the fundamental building blocks that place the United States in different category than other near-peers.
Todd
Jun 02, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A provocative work written in an accessible and persuasive style, it is worth reading and considering, even though ultimately Zeihan fails to work through the propositions he makes and provide an argument that withstands critical review. It is a book mostly about geopolitics, married with ideas about technology and demographics. While he briefly protests that geopolitics are not deterministic, he turns around to make exactly that kind of argument for the rest of the book. For instance, "since th ...more
Eric
Sep 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Persons interested in current events
Recommended to Eric by: David Russell
Engaging read ascribing global events to inexorable forces of geography and climate, aka geopolitics. Books gives enough statistical support for surface plausibility without overwhelming the narrative with numbers. The underlying economic and demographic data is referenced sufficiently that the basic claims of the book can be checked by those compulsive enough to do so. The book does have an air of inevitability, though not as obvious as Jared Diamond in Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Huma ...more
Wesley Roth
Apr 06, 2015 rated it really liked it
After surging to a bestseller on Amazon this spring, I picked up Peter Zeihan's book, to learn why he thinks the next generation will feature "American preeminence and global disorder." This book in a geopolitical junkie's dream. As a former STRATFOR analyst, Zeihan brings his talent to book form covering a wide range of topics: from the demographic roller coaster to shale to Alberta (!) and Mexico to China to many other countries and conflicts and geopolitical trends. I found myself reading the ...more
Shaun
Feb 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I don't rate books with 5 stars very often, but I found this book truly fascinating. The author has thought out many of the hypothesis he makes in the book. The premise is that the United States of America is a superpower, primarily based on our favorable geography. It's so interesting how blessed the United States is truly is solely based on our geographic characteristics. The author goes over the geographies of the world and tells about his opinion of the near-future based on the geo-political ...more
Matt Robertson
Aug 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A very interesting read which changed the way I see the world and history. I especially like his attention to geography. Read it with Google maps open! Gets a bit repetitive with him stating and restating his central theory but the content is so fascinating that he more than makes up for any style critiques.
Sajid Ali
Jan 29, 2015 rated it liked it
An analysis of what makes a country powerful based on geography and demographics. Author claims that we will soon see the Bretton Woods system come to an end, now that the Americans have shale and that there is no need to maintain a trade an security alliance as there is no enemy (read USSR) that can meaningfully challenge them . He gives his two cents on what follows which looks not so good for most of the world.
The prediction flies in the face of the facts. The US is aggressively pursuing new
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Nick Rolston
Dec 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
An eye-opening discussion of the broad reaching implications from the Bretton Woods agreement organized by the US at the end of WW2 that changed the course of geopolitics. The author describes how the US has benefitted tremendously from the free trade that followed and has been able to establish global naval dominance as a result. In addition to the dramatic changes ushered in from Bretton Woods, demography, geography, and natural resources will dictate the success and future of the nations of o ...more
Andrew Ballard
Mar 15, 2016 rated it liked it
Excellent geopolitical analysis explaining some of the inevitables - US will remain unchallenged, China will struggle, Europe's a mess, Russia's on its last legs. That's interesting and readable and well explained. Unfortunately, it's accompanied by some pretty daft predictions - Sweden will become a regional power again (really?), Uzbekistan will take over a few countries in its region, Canada will break in 3.
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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
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Luster is the breathtaking and often hilarious debut from novelist Raven Leilani. The story follows Edie, a 23-year-old trying to find her way ...
23 likes · 5 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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