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From Barnes & NobleThe Barnes & Noble Review
Almost every page of this persuasively argued, intellectually stimulating book by foreign affairs correspondent Robert D. Kaplan has a passage or two that's worth underlining, thinking about, and rereading. Unlike most leadership tomes, which tend to be largely focused on facilitating the acquisition of particular skills, Kaplan's work is suggestive, wide ranging, and deeply rooted in a passionate concern with military as well as economic history. In fact, one of the book's major themes is the impossibility of divorcing our current "modern" dilemmas from the realities that created our past. As Kaplan notes, in a passage critiquing the notion that progress is synonymous with reform, "The more 'modern' we and our technologies become -- the more our lives become mechanized and abstract -- the more our instincts are likely to rebel, and the more cunning and perverse we are likely to become, however subtly." If progress and technological advantages aren't the answers to our contemporary ills, then what remains? Our history -- which, in Kaplan's vision, is both behind and before us, both our origin and, if we don't attend to it, our destination.
After a brief introductory chapter, Kaplan presents a series of chapters that discuss texts critical to our understanding of war and social upheaval. Churchill's The River War, Livy's The War with Hannibal, Sun-tzu's The Art of War, and Thucydides' The Peloponnesian War are considered, along with the writings of Machiavelli, Hobbes, and Kant, among others. The book's broad range may sound daunting to readers who aren't familiar with all of these writings. Don't worry -- Kaplan, a veteran journalist with The Atlantic Monthly and author of Balkan Ghosts, uses situations and themes from these writings to illuminate the current global situation, rather than discussing the primary texts in exhaustive detail; the only hazard here is that Warrior Politics may interest you in going back and reading all the great books you missed in college.
Anyone interested in history, the art of leadership, the political scene, or the future of our increasingly global society will find themselves picking up this provocative book again and again; it's one of the best books available on what Kaplan himself refers to as the twinned human yearning for conflict and community. (Sunil Sharma)