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The Coming Anarchy: Shattering the Dreams of the Post Cold War
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The Coming Anarchy: Shattering the Dreams of the Post Cold War

3.84  ·  Rating details ·  840 Ratings  ·  53 Reviews
From the bestselling author of Balkan Ghosts and The Ends of the Earth comes a fascinating new book on the imminent global chaos that is as brilliant as it is necessary, as original as it is controversial.

The end of the Cold War has not ushered in the global peace and prosperity that many had anticipated. Environmental degradation is causing the rampant spread of famine an
Paperback, 224 pages
Published August 13th 2002 by Vintage (first published 1994)
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Apr 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction, war, favorites
Wait, what! Did I write this book? No, at the time it was written, the late 90’s, I was rehabilitating young minds and not all that concerned with world affairs; but now … I do agree with most of what the author thinks about the peopled world. This book, a book of essays concerned with international affairs and America’s involvement, all written before 9/11, is mind-blowing for its predictive accuracy. I suspect that’s because Kaplan takes a realistic world view versus a wishful, or idealistic o ...more
Nov 29, 2014 rated it really liked it
This is an interesting book, because it’s a book of (pessimistic) analysis and predictions made long enough ago (mid- to late-1990s) that some judgment can be made of its accuracy. It’s a book of several essays of varying lengths on varying topics, based largely on direct observation from Kaplan’s travels, but all generally focused around the future structure and stability of the world. Kaplan is a very vivid and incisive writer, so just on that basis alone the book is worth reading. He’s also a ...more
Apr 21, 2012 rated it really liked it
Kaplan is a fearless author and thinker. He explores and explodes the modern emphasis on peace and transnational government as a rational view to the reality of the current state of international affairs. Though published in 2000 this book is still relevant and insightful. Kaplan is a journalist with a strengthen in foreign and security issues. He is a realist of the first degree, starting the book with a quote from Hobbes, and writing a fantastic essay - "Kissinger, Metternich, and Realism". He ...more
Chris Gager
May 09, 2016 rated it really liked it
Yet another saved book. From where I don't know. It's a collection of essays written mostly for the Atlantic Monthly. A friend of mine has a subscription. My impression is that it's kind of a progressive Republican rag - whatever that might be! I read the intro last night. Should prove interesting to read alongside "The Glory and the Dream."

Got a bit further in over the retail-work weekend. Now I have some nice time off to read on. The picture ain't gonna be pretty. In fact it's already pretty d
Jan 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history
I was slightly dismayed when, after getting this book, I realized that the articles are already around 20 years old. Nevertheless, it soon became apparent to me, as I delved ever further into this fascinating account, that it is still very pertinent. What is most shocking is how accurate some of his predictions are. One need only look at the rise of the phenomenon of radicalized lone wolf terrorists, to name but one. Kaplan presents some very compelling arguments against some of our most cherish ...more
May 27, 2015 rated it really liked it
Kaplan presciently predicts the contemporary period of chaos in the Middle East and elsewhere in this late 1990s work. Railing against the rhetoric of spreading democracy, Kaplan effectively argues against the 2003 invasion of Iraq before it even happened. Tremendously important and applicable today.
Joshua Pierson
Kaplan surmises that the new world order rising out of the ashes of the cold war will be multipolar and focused on economic growth for a very small few. He uses Africa as a template to demonstrate that the nation-state system is dying and the rise of tribal affiliations is growing in significance. These affiliations will rise to challenge the current multipolar world order. The nations that are more well-off are moving like a car down a freeway passing everyone else that is not a part of the eco ...more
Sep 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: political
There is a question of causes and effects here. When I first read The Coming Anarchy during my senior thesis prep work in college, I thought it prescient. Now, 11 years later, I have come to wonder how much these essays predicted the widening gyre of domestic and international political relations, and how much they abetted that same clannish drifting. Either way, the essays are worth reading, for a neo-Malthusian's well articulated take on the present and future of our world. If thinking like hi ...more
Jan 21, 2017 rated it did not like it
Shelves: politics
Couldn't get into it. A good book if you run on the platform of FEAR. Not for me.
Jul 24, 2013 rated it really liked it
in the two thousandth year of the prophet yesus, the followers of mohammed sent a teamth to the far land of amerigo and commanded them, 'seize the chariots of amerigo and strike them againsth their temples and towers that we may hear their lamentations and rejoice in their suffering.' the mujahideen heareth these orders and did as they were instructith. and the people of amerigo were filled with wrath, for they had not receiveth the declaration of war. the king of the people of amerigo, george p ...more
Samrat Sen
Mar 08, 2013 rated it really liked it
Stunning book! Chilling actually, the way patterns have been discerned and applied in context. It's thought provoking, direct, andf gives the big picture which today's society almost always neglects.

Some of the observations/predictions made out in the book:

"The more appliances that middle class existence requires, the more influence their producers have over the texture of our lives. The computer in some way enhances power of individual, but it also depletes our individuality. A degree of space
Jul 17, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Adults and late adolescents interested in grand strategy and history
Excellent and disturbing - it makes me want to sit down with the author and debate some of his points over dinner or something.
The book was published in 2000, so its age is showing to a degree. A lot of what Kaplan predicted has come true, although he missed some calls, and some is still to be determined.
Whether a particular reader agrees or argues with Kaplan will depend greatly on how much common ground there is in their assumptions - for example, Kaplan argues strongly at some points that for
Mar 20, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anarchists, back to the landers, anyone who is tired of being dulled by television sports events
Recommended to Ziggidyone by: Wilson
This book is quite incredible. Kaplan takes the studies of past social evolution through the eyes of philosophers and social theorists to distill a view of a post-democratic western world.

His treatment of the unraveling of Africa through famine, drought, disease and America's foisting of Election politics upon tribal cultures-tempered with the continual isolation of Eastern Europe and Asia from the west-sets a chilling stage for a future in which America is increasingly at odds with not only th
Mark Valentine
Jan 17, 2016 rated it liked it
The best essay in this collection is the lead essay, the title essay. He roves around the world for his topics and, although it is a little dated by now (1994), it now shifts from journalistic first-draft history to a second draft--one that gives us more perspective on the events of the 80s and 90s.

As an aside: There is a long section about western Africa in the 90s and because I had read Ishmael Beah's memoir, A Long Way Gone, last year, set in Sierra Leone, it helped in my appreciation and co
Nate Cooley
Feb 08, 2008 rated it really liked it
This book starts off great by expounding upon previously published ideas of Mr. Kaplan found in his articles within The Atlantic Monthly. He talks about a coming anarchy due to the decreasing relevance of international borders (which may be read the disintegration of the state). Refugee flows, environmental degradation, and ehnic cleavages are all factors that contribute to the disintegration of the current system. Kaplan expounds upon these notions and offers other examples and scenarios worth ...more
Jan 08, 2008 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: International affairs, political science
This is based on his now famous article from the 90s featured in a news magazine (I think it was Time), but the expanded text and extras are all good reading for anyone interested in development theory and basic political theory strategists. Hungington's theory is heavily invoked here with the culture conflict argument and Kaplan is always good at making the reader realize that his experience with developing world politics is enigmatic at best. Who has all the answers for political turmoil? Not ...more
Martin Streetman
Mar 09, 2008 rated it really liked it
This is another book that has an OLD bookmark in it, 2nd January 2006; it was though a quick read. Scary but fast. As most of you know I like quotes, this book however has way too many. It mentions several books that I know of just have never read like Gibbon's Decline and Fall and Conrad's Nostromo that I would like to look into further. This book is close to 10 years old but seems very relevant to us today. I'm going to head over to the library now and see if they have any of his other books.

May 12, 2014 rated it really liked it
This book was absolutely riveting. I couldn't put it down. It is beautifully rational and shows little concern for political correctness or catering to the needs of either the left, with their naive and arrogant belief that all people are the same, regardless of history, culture, language, and so on, and the arrogance of the right with their idea of Manifest Destiny. Kaplan shows an unflinching willingness to criticize the American naivete and hubris that blindly worships the idea of democracy a ...more
Jun 04, 2013 rated it it was amazing
One of the best books I've read this year. Kaplan offers up a realistic/pessimistic view of world politics, etc. in a post Cold War world. What is eerie and fascinating about the book is that it was published in 2000. Reading it now through the lens of 9/11, some of his observations and analyses are incredibly on target with respect to how he saw the state of the world and America's place in it in the early 21st century. For example, less 'formal' wars and more insurgencies and threats to the U. ...more
Daniel Hermosel Murcia
Mar 06, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ensayo
Compré este libro en 2005 pensando que iba... de otra cosa. Lo cierto es que ya entonces tenía 5 añitos, pero es ahora cuando he visto que Kaplan no estaba tan equivocado a pesar de lo en desacuerdo que pueda estar con algunos de sus enfoques. Aunque si entras en el pragmatismo no te queda otra que darle la razón y, por mucho que al idealista que uno lleva dentro le duela, más de una vez. La verdad es que este conjunto de ensayos políticos puede parece áspero pero sólo por el último capítulo (de ...more
Feb 12, 2008 rated it liked it
I wanted to rate it 2 stars, but I have a weird relationship with the book.

I read it to contrast much of "The World Is Flat" by Friedman, and it does in fact contrast it.

My problem with this series of articles is that I don't think I actually understand many of the main points and a lot of the references that Kaplan writes about. Which is my own fault. However, I feel that his ideas are often overwritten and laden with references rather than ideas.

It's a frightening view, overall.

I don't know w
Jan 08, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I think the only reason I gave this book 3 stars was because I am a fan of this author. I have read many other books by Mr. Kaplan and have really enjoyed them.... that is until I got to this one. Unlike his others which focus more on a travel/historical aspect of countries, this one is a collection of articles focusing more on the political philosophy of the world after the Cold War that were in the Atlantic Magazine over a couple of years Not exactly the type of thing I would want to cuddle in ...more
Feb 23, 2007 rated it liked it
Democracies do not always make societies more civil — but they do always mercilessly expose the health of the societies in which they operate. - from Coming Anarchy

Relevant and foreboding even while we act out some of it's prophecies... against a lot I stand for but still happy to take some value out of it.
Kaplan's famous - or infamous - warning of the breakdown of the international order following the end of the Cold War. Based on travel in conflict zones of the developing world during the mid-1990s, he predicts a dire situation in which overpopulation, pollution, underdevelopment, and disease will turn the developing world into a massive zone of war. Also includes bizarrely irrelevant essays on subjects like Gibbon's Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire.
Mica Meintel-Wade
Nov 07, 2009 rated it really liked it
Kaplan gives a thoughtful look at modern foreign policy and the tremendously complicated issues that policy makers today face. His outlook on human nature and the global viability of democracy, while pessimistic, is also refreshingly insightful. The only problem that I had with the book was that each chapter (which was also an article Kaplan had published in a journal) could have been fully developed into its own book instead of spanning only 15 pages.
May 17, 2007 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: anyone who wants to or needs to be internationally knowledgable.
The realists dream book. Depressing but necessary analysis of some global issues. The only downside was the lack of any potential "solutions" and a failure to really tie everything together... but then that really wasnt Kaplan's goal. It seemed to have been meant to be more of a wake up call on what's wrong than a solution manual on how to fix things.

Just reread this book. I had forgotten just how good it was.
Oct 08, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: students of political science
This book presents some cold hard reality to those who (achem George Bush) who think that democracy will cure all. Kaplan asks whether there might be more nuance to it than that. Even though the essays in this book (dated in the mid to late 90s) are a bit dated, his objections remain food for thought. Kaplan's lean writing is very respectful to his readers. He doesn't burden you down with a lot of worthless text.
Rally Soong
Nov 12, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Disturbingly accurate about our changing world- not everything he says have panned out and his irritating habit of romanticizing certain aspects of history grates on me , but I can relate to what he says and his view of democracy in the developing world. A must read for those interested in foreign policy- this book packs more insight than 10 books 20 times the weight!
Mar 10, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
A collection of essays about the modern world and the problems with globalization. Well written, and some interesting information, but If I were not reading it for a class, I probably wouldn't get past the first's a good read if you like to get depressed about the world, and I already read the news.
Mike Moskos
Jun 02, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: book
Written over 10 years ago, this book turned out to be quite prescient.

I reserve 5 stars for those few books that provide a great understanding of the world or a specific topic. This is one of those books.
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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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