The Tragic Mind: Fear, Fate, and the Burden of Power

The Tragic Mind: Fear, Fate, and the Burden of Power

by Robert D. Kaplan

Narrated by John Chancer

Unabridged — 4 hours, 36 minutes

Robert D. Kaplan
The Tragic Mind: Fear, Fate, and the Burden of Power

The Tragic Mind: Fear, Fate, and the Burden of Power

by Robert D. Kaplan

Narrated by John Chancer

Unabridged — 4 hours, 36 minutes

Robert D. Kaplan

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Overview

A moving meditation on recent geopolitical crises, viewed through the lens of ancient and modern tragedy


Some books emerge from a lifetime of hard-won knowledge. Robert D. Kaplan has learned, from a career spent reporting on wars, revolutions, and international politics in Europe, the Middle East, and East Asia, that the essence of geopolitics is tragedy. In The Tragic Mind, he employs the works of ancient Greek dramatists, Shakespeare, German philosophers, and the modern classics to explore the central subjects of international politics: order, disorder, rebellion, ambition, loyalty to family and state, violence, and the mistakes of power. The great dilemmas of international politics, he argues, are not posed by good versus evil-a clear and easy choice-but by contests of good versus good, where the choices are often searing, incompatible, and fraught with consequences. A deeply learned and deeply felt meditation on the importance of lived experience in conducting international relations, this is a book for everyone who wants a profound understanding of the tragic politics of our time.



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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

Classical drama provides crucial lessons for policymakers. . . . A road map for effective, well-considered policy.”—Kirkus Reviews

“Robert Kaplan has augmented his many penetrating studies of societies, regions, and strategies with The Tragic Mind. It deals brilliantly with the impact on the human mind of the changes wrought by conflicts and transformations in various historical periods. A moving culmination by one of America’s most thoughtful observers of international trends.”—Henry A. Kissinger, author of Leadership: Six Studies in World Strategy

“This is a brilliant and unique philosophical journey from the ancient Greeks through Shakespeare’s canon and on to modern existential literature. But above all, it is a meditation on geopolitics grounded in a lifetime of global reporting.”—Admiral James Stavridis, 16th Supreme Allied Commander at NATO and author of To Risk It All

“Robert Kaplan combines his knowledge of the classics with four decades of firsthand experience with wars and crises to wisely warn ahistorical Americans that all could have been helped by a greater tragic sensibility. He shows that tragedy is not fatalism or despair, but comprehension. A beautifully thoughtful essay.”—Joseph S. Nye, Jr., author of Do Morals Matter?

“Robert Kaplan has long been his own toughest critic. Now, in The Tragic Mind, he draws on Aeschylus, Euripides, and Sophocles for an unflinchingly courageous course correction: a deeply significant book for troubled times.”—John Lewis Gaddis, author of On Grand Strategy

“This is an author who has made it his business to see the world we live in. I have always read his work with awe. In this book, Kaplan takes the reader beyond the realm of information and knowledge and into the territory of wisdom. It is a profound must-read for all who wish to understand the world as it is.”—Ayaan Hirsi Ali, author of Prey: Immigration, Islam, and the Erosion of Women’s Rights

Joseph Nye


“Robert Kaplan combines his knowledge of the classics with four decades of first hand experience with wars and crises to wisely warn ahistorical Americans that all could have been helped by a greater tragic sensibility. He shows that tragedy is not fatalism or despair, but comprehension. A beautifully thoughtful essay.”—Joseph S. Nye, Jr., author of Do Morals Matter?

James Stavridis


“This is a brilliant and unique philosophical journey from the ancient Greeks through Shakespeare’s canon and on to modern existential literature. But above all, it is a meditation on geopolitics grounded in a lifetime of global reporting.”—Admiral James Stavridis, 16th Supreme Allied Commander at NATO and author of To Risk It All

Kirkus Reviews

2022-09-21
Classical drama provides crucial lessons for policymakers.

Kaplan has had an impressive career: many years as a journalist reporting on the Middle East, author of numerous books on international affairs, and many years working in high-level think tanks. Consequently, it may seem strange that he begins this meditative narrative with an admission of a mistake that still haunts him. He saw the regime of Saddam Hussein firsthand and believed it was so awful that it had to be removed. Consequently, he supported the U.S. invasion, but the anarchy that followed, he admits, was even worse. This led him to the conclusion that order, even that imposed by dictators, was preferable to chaos in all but a few extreme cases. Kaplan suggests that presidents and policymakers should look to Greek classical dramas and Shakespeare’s plays to understand the importance of considering the consequences of actions and the limits of power. The tragic mind, in this sense, is one that is aware of itself and of the contrariness of human events. He cites George H.W. Bush as the last president with this sort of depth. After him, presidents have been quick to send troops to one hot spot or another, always with good intentions but with little in the way of positive outcomes. Military involvement should be a last resort, used only as a response to true evil, such as the Nazi regime. In fact, the author notes that the idea of evil has been devalued through overuse. “Every villain is not Hitler,” he writes, “and every year is not 1939….Passion should not be allowed to distort analysis, even as social media does exactly that.” Kaplan can often sound pompous and old-fashioned (not a new criticism), but the advice that military actions should be carefully thought through, and then thought through again, should be heeded by anyone who contributes to making life-and-death decisions.

A road map for effective, well-considered policy.

Product Details

BN ID: 2940175902892
Publisher: Yale Press Audio
Publication date: 01/17/2023
Edition description: Unabridged

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