The Ends of the Earth: A Journey at the Dawn of the Twenty-first Century

The Ends of the Earth: A Journey at the Dawn of the Twenty-first Century

by Robert D. Kaplan
     
 

The bestselling author of Balkan Ghosts takes readers on a journey through troubled regions where age-old cultural rivalries threaten to reshape the world of tomorrow. From West Africa to the fundamentalist enclaves of Egypt and Iran to the culturally explosive lands of Central Asia, the people who will remake our world tomorrow are profiled.

Overview

The bestselling author of Balkan Ghosts takes readers on a journey through troubled regions where age-old cultural rivalries threaten to reshape the world of tomorrow. From West Africa to the fundamentalist enclaves of Egypt and Iran to the culturally explosive lands of Central Asia, the people who will remake our world tomorrow are profiled.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
After his recent travels through troubled southeastern Europe, Kaplan (Balkan Ghosts: A Journey Through History) has taken on an even more ambitious itinerary-some of the most inhospitable regions of the globe, both geographically and politically. Starting in West Africa, where he finds that border regions are so porous as to make the concept of countries "largely meaningless,'' he braves the Egyptian desert, then advances through Turkey, Azerbaijan, Iran, sprawling Turkestan, China and Pakistan and on through Southeast Asia. He advises at the outset that his book "folds international studies into a travelogue.'' Readers looking for an easy ride had better fasten their seat belts, for the author treats us to all sorts of speculation on the condition of humankind as the century is about to turn, along with generous dollops of history. Intermingled with graphic descriptions of exotic locales are highly personal ruminations, one of the most interesting of which is that in some of these lands, "the village came to the city and . . . vanquished it'' by overwhelming modern urban middle-class values. A challenging and engrossing read. (Mar.)
Library Journal
Kaplan, author of Balkan Ghosts (LJ 2/15/93) and a contributing editor to Atlantic Monthly, provoked extensive debate when he initially set out the theme of this book in an article in that magazine. Kaplan journeyed across a mosaic of the world torn by war and cultural conflict-West Africa, Egypt, Iran, Central Asian republics, India, and Southeast Asia. He found cultures and societies in dramatic, often violent change. Kaplan argues that patterns of traditional ethnic conflict will influence much of non-Western international affairs in the 21st century. Like any travel journalist, Kaplan spoke to many people to contribute to his impressions, but one senses that he rarely got below the surface to discover the strength and resiliency of the cultures he encountered. The narrative is fascinating; the conclusions merely impressionistic. Of interest to larger public libraries.-Bill Rau, Takoma Park, Md.
Alice Joyce
A contributing editor to the "Atlantic Monthly" admits to being "addicted to political analysis." It comes as no surprise, then, to find an account of his travels throughout Africa and Asia to be no mere travelogue, but rather a stimulating journey distinguished by detailed observations of economic and social conditions he encountered. Often, Kaplan's timely viewpoint may be all too bleak, especially when considering the long-term ramifications of soaring populations, disease, rampant poverty, environmental devastation, and the ethnic or religious animosities that result in anarchy and war. Still, the dense yet fluid reportage shows Kaplan to be an objective seeker of truth. His keen observations are shocking at times, but they sound an alarm difficult to ignore.
Kirkus Reviews
A "brief romp" through West Africa, Egypt, Iran, Central Asia, western China, Pakistan, India, Vietnam, and Cambodia by Atlantic Monthly contributing editor Kaplan (Balkan Ghosts, 1993, etc.).

You have to hand it to Kaplan. He travels light, he travels dirty, and he goes to places that most travelers would thankfully avoid. He has also done his homework and has a useful frame of reference in which to fit his experiences and observations. Many are valuable. His comments on West Africa evoked wide discussion when they appeared in the Atlantic Monthly. In assessing the value of a diplomat's optimism about Africa, he asks drily, "How did he arrive at the airport?"—a reference to the crime, bribery, and anarchy often associated with mere arrival in Africa, but which high-level diplomats usually avoid. In considering levels of crime in various poor and overcrowded cities, he punctures easy explanations based on cultural factors by comparing similarly horrendous crime rates in Cambodia and Sierra Leone (he had believed that crime rates would be lower in Cambodia, with its ancient civilizations based in written language). Contrary to expectations, in Iran he notes how the country and its culture "appeared minimally affected fifteen years after the revolution." He contrasts the attention given to AIDS with that given to the 100200 million people who contract malaria every year and the 2.5 million people who die annually of the disease. His most enduring impression is of the weakening of state structures throughout the area and the growing strength of ethnic and religious identity.

He covers a much wider area than he did in his more valuable Balkan Ghosts, and his expectations about finding general paradigms are disappointed. Nor are his efforts to make his discoveries relevant to the US very convincing. But for sheer entertainment, vigor, sharp observation, and thoughtful comparison, Kaplan takes a lot of beating.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780679431480
Publisher:
Random House Publishing Group
Publication date:
02/27/1996
Edition description:
1st ed
Pages:
400
Product dimensions:
6.52(w) x 9.53(h) x 1.64(d)

Meet the Author

Robert D. Kaplan is a national correspondent for The Atlantic Monthly and the bestselling author of eleven previous books on foreign affairs and travel, including Balkan Ghosts, The Ends of the Earth, The Coming Anarchy, and Eastward to Tartary and most recently Imperial Grunts. He is currently the Class of 1960 Distinguished Visiting Professor at the United States Naval Academy. He lives with his wife and son in western Massachusetts.


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