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The Second World
Parag Khanna
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The Second World

3.68  ·  Rating details ·  377 Ratings  ·  56 Reviews
Discription of how the 21st century may turn out, politically and economically. This is a fascinating examination of trends in countries throughout the world written in an engrossing style.It gives globalization a new definition.
non fiction, 351 pages
Published 2008 by random House
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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James Murphy
Jun 18, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Khanna's premise is that at present the first world is divided into three almost hemispheric-correlating power centers: the U. S., the European Union, and China. The countries making up the second world are those caught between the stable and prosperous and those who're poor and unstable, the third world. Khanna says those second world countries will determine, through alliances, which of the big 3 power centers will dominate in the future. He's heavily influenced by Toynbee's ideas of how the w ...more
Assem Salih
I’ve read his chapters on the Middle East; Egypt, Saudi, and the rest of the GCC states. I expected far more from this book. While Khanna’s style of writing is really attractive, the amount of information, research, and even analysis was really shallow. Nothing in the Middle East chapters more than what you read in NYT, TIME, or Newsweek.
Jan 12, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I had really high hopes for this book. I thought it would provide a good introduction and overview on developments in such diverse regions as Central Asia, the Magrheb and the Mashreq. Plus, it trumpeted its status as an NYT Idea of the Year on the back cover.

I've since come to the conclusion that the high praise for Khanna's book came from people who don't actually know anything about the regions covered in The Second World. And don't mind the fact that Khanna's book is really a collection of
Jun 26, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: politics
"Better Than Toilet Paper."

The underlying idea of the book is that there are 3 superpowers (EU, China, USA) - the First World - and they are competing to gobble mouthfuls of the Second World. Some Second World countries are smart enough to negotiate the process, like Kazakhstan or Malaysia; others will be ripped apart like Iraq or Russia.

I misunderstood it for an essay on a par with Brzezinski's "The Grand Chessboard", but it is yet another travelogue.

The below pattern appears in so many non-fic
Dec 31, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very good info but not great. In the end, it boils down to geopolitical concerns of natural resources vs globalization.

The two global impulse are geopolitics and globalization with concomitant access to natural resources, power, and stability. He states the 2nd world economies is where the opportunity as well as huge risks lie b/c of its unreliable governments. He states that the US should have a "diplomatic-industrial complex. The three superpowers in the world are the US with its diplomatic co
Mikhail Tillman
Never in my life have I read a book that was so consistently wrong. Every bit of analysis made and every prediction are just so bafflingly false that I was almost impressed. I give it two stars instead of one only because reading it was a really enjoyable experience. Every chapter brought an assertion that was even crazier than the last, and I got a good laugh out of every one.

Khanna uses the word "diaspora" about fifty times throughout the book like he had just learned the word before starting.
Nov 15, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This scope of this book was extremely ambitious. Basically an overview of all of the pivotal countries and regions of the world. The author is well-traveled and has been to all of these places and talked with local people there, giving him valuable perspective. The theme of the book was less ambitious, which was probably why I liked it much better than Huntington or Fukuyama. The world is too complicated to fit into a single geopolitical metaphor. Khanna's theme is that we are moving into a mult ...more
Feb 23, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I thought for a few weeks last year that Parag Khanna would be the next big thing. I couldn't help but like him, he'd written a brilliant NYT magazine article and he looked so dapper... But a brilliant article can easily get stretched into a bland and plodding book. After the Russian Devolution and Ukranian chapters (which were informed and enjoyable) it was all progressively downhill and muddy. It wasn't that anything Khanna wrote was objectionable, but very little in the book convinced me to t ...more
Howard Olsen
Jan 02, 2009 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
The basic concept of this book is tantalizing: a survey of the "second world" - those countries which straddle the economic line between the developed countries of the first world and the poor countries of the third world. Unfortunately, Khanna is a glib"citizen of the world" who tries too hard to seem knowing. I almost put the book down when I saw the title of the first chapter: "Brussels: The New Rome." Excuse me? What follows was a short (6 pages!) description of the wonders of the European U ...more
Jan 21, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Yofish by: Post review Mar 2008
(Really more like 3.5 stars)

It's pretty well-writtten, and he seems quite knowledgeable about a pretty wide range of countries.

His point is that there are a lot of countries out there that aren't quite 'first world' but have advanced beyond 'third world.' Each chapter (more or less) is about a different country, where they've been and where they're going. Sometimes it seems like the main point is which of the three current dominent economies/cultures (US, European Union, China) will most take h
Jun 03, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: international
This book is a global tour of a dizzying number of nations that is supposed to illustrate Khanna's assertion that there are three "empires" in today's world, China, the European Union and the U.S. This is an interesting and readbale book but I would have preferred a fuller exposition of Khanna's thesis illustrated by a few in-depth examinations of say, 5-7 countries. His attempt to name them all leads to a kind of superficial expertise, as when he talks about the way Islamic extremists are takin ...more
Mar 26, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
You can read excerpts on my blog site: There is a link to it on my “goodreads” profile page under “website.”

My Review
Inspired by Arnold Toynbee’s 1958, 12 volume A Study of History; Parag Khanna grasp of the current world condition is written from the perspective of a serious and concerned world citizen. Khanna gives the reader historic background ancient and recent and gives us quotes leaders from the four corners of the planet and everywhere between. He do
If you're interested in International Relations, and you're fed-up with the classic powergame-analysis, this is your book. Khanna has produced a book that is breathtaking in its scope: he covers almost the whole world (with the very sad exception of subsaharan Africa), some 30 countries are screened, pointedly, most of them within 2-3 pages. The overall picture: the American empire is in decline, Europe is a very good alternative, but China will certainly rule the waves, by 2050. Khanna's great ...more
would recommend the book by Fareed Zakaria: The Post-American World and another by Parag Khanna: The Second World: Empires and Influence in the New Global Order. Both books offer thoughtful insights in the ongoing shifts in the balance of power that reshape the international order. They provoke discussions on the opportunities and challenges that America faces as its relative power declines and as it adapts to an increasingly multi-polar world. These books and the discussion surrounding them ins ...more
H Wesselius
Read like a series of briefing notes. He rightly critizes the US but fails in his conclusion to offer needed changes to US policy. Given his admiration for the EU and the Chinese, he could have suggested ways the US could emulate their examples. I question his analysis of Venezuela (anti) and Columbia (pro) - surprisingly one sided given his balanced approach elsewhere. He alludes to but does not outright state the damage the Washington consensus and IMF shock therapy did to US credibility in La ...more
Jul 05, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: gave-up-on
I like this book. It is certainly informative in what I was looking for. However, I find myself questioning as I am reading. The biggest question for me is whether it is still valid in 2012. The world has changed since this book was written and it is this new, changed world that I want to understand. There are plenty of other books on my summer reading list that I hope will serve my search just as well. I am putting this one down reluctantly after 60 pages. I look at chapters unread and wish it ...more
David Sasaki
Parag Khanna was an emerging hot-shot commentator on international relations and emerging markets that fizzled around the time we stopped using the term BRICS. As I look back over my notes, it's amazing how he got away with being so politically incorrect: "There are limits as to how far a civilization can advance when people pray five times a day and live in the paralyzing heat of the desert."

I remember enjoying the book because it was a helpful primer on emerging market countries when Brazil, R
Anne H. Bakke
Jun 15, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
All about politics and economics of first, second and third world countries affected by globalisation and geopolitics. A great insight of the societies of the world. Khanna uses a lot of images in his language to display opinions, and it works very well.

USA jumps into a conflict and ultimately, makes a fool of itself. EU comes along and establishes diplomatic talks, invests and build democracy through either expansion or its neighbourhood policy. China buys everyone out and wins. Thi
Cheryl Klein
Aug 11, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
This book is going to shape my worldview for a long time, I think. It's a great overview of how the current geopolitical powers (U.S., the E.U. and China) exert their influence on "second world" (i.e., partially developed) countries, and how those countries can best interact with the big guys to further their own development. Let's just say the U.S. better get its act together fast if it wants to stay a first-world country.

Khanna is clearly an excellent researcher and theorizer, but he also wri
I never saw a book use the word "diaspora" as much as this one. I actually want to go back and count.

That said, an interesting book that covers a tremendous amount of ground. Perfect for my short attention span, the chapters read more like magazine articles, something you'd encounter in The Economist, perhaps. I've read some other reviews of this book stating that there was a serious need for fact checking, but it could possibly be that the author's tone is less factual, more opinionated. Certa
Mar 23, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I will admit to not reading this cover to cover. I was interested in reading the section on Central Asia, in addition to the introduction and conclusion. I thought the author provided a decent overview of various countries classified as "Second World" but almost tried to do too much. I felt like I wanted a deeper analysis than was present in this book, and thought this might be in the conclusion. However, the conclusion was a long discussion of how the United States may be descending into Second ...more
Started with great interest, got dragged down in the youthful, pompous academic style which inhibited communication. I believe there were some great ideas in there and also many good facts and situations, however the style and density put me off. Probably great for a college class or background basics for a thesis or work. I suppose I was looking for a more approachable read at the time. I could return to this at some later date and find it what I was looking for, given the topic, however, with ...more
Sep 24, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book should be required reading for everyone in foreign affairs. For me it was a total eyeopener into the shifting political loyalities of the inbetween countries. Empire building, naturl resources, trade routes, corruption and greed, fear and military build up, ecological disaster, criminal syndicates in government, spies and doublecrosses: these are our world history and our present day state. The odds are stacked against us.
May 12, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fantastic book, one of my favorites, must read for anyone interested in foreign affairs. An insightful discourse on the 21st century three-way geopolitical struggle between the US, Europe and China and each superpower's method of trying to conquer the Second World. Although, Khanna downplays the role of Russia in the game; but the book was written before the context Georgian war and Russia's more recent/overt meddling in Ukraine.
This dude can write well, but he is a hyped up fuck up. Says, Palestine issue can be solved by infrastructure and greater flow of capital. Now isn't that utopian? So what's wrong with the utopian notion of attaining statehood. Zizek is right when he says under a global capitalist order the most realistic solution is portrayed as the most utopian.

The book isn't a complete waste of time simply because he is a good writer, but there ain't much to learn from this shit text.
Katherine Collins
I like this book because it contains a lot of commentary on countries rarely mentioned in the daily news (except for crisis situations). Though it is always tricky to draw broad geopolitical conclusions in a finite number of pages or minutes, I am also intrigued by Parag’s focus on the contrast between economic and infrastructure boundaries versus national boundaries.
Feb 24, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
So far, so ordinary...admittedly not far in, but up to now I've learned very little apart from the author's biases against very "emerging" countries (Russia in particular)...I admire and applaud his pro-Europeanism, but in general unless things change soon I think the last 200 or 300 pages will remain unread....
Apr 01, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Una specie di sussidiario, che in un rapido viaggio intorno al mondo, traccia rapidamente lo scenario sociale e politico, non dei più "famosi" stati del pianeta, ma di quelle aree in cui si gioca davvero la partita per il futuro della nostra specie. Nonostante l'argomento non sia dei più leggeri, è avvincente come un romanzo, e si lascia leggere con sorprendente facilità.
Nov 10, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As a man woefully naive of current day political, economic and military power, this served as a fascinating geopolitical tutorial. Book's made up of bite sized snapshots of countries and powerbases around the world which for all that they might be a little short on detail are highly relevant and very readable.
Jul 09, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A graduate student's mind dump of information and disembodied quotes about rising countries and the struggle for their place in the world. Not my favorite, but a good overview of the emerging world order from a geo-economic perspective. A good companion book is Robert Kagan's The Return of History and the End of Dreams.
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Parag Khanna is a global strategist, world traveler, and bestselling author. He is a CNN Global Contributor and a Senior Research Fellow at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at the National University of Singapore.
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