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

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

by 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


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A moving meditation on recent geopolitical crises, viewed through the lens of ancient and modern tragedy
“Spare, elegant and poignant. . . . If there is a single contemporary book that should be pressed into the hands of those who decide issues of war and peace, this is it.”—John Gray, New Statesman
“It is tragic that Robert D. Kaplan’s luminous The Tragic Mind is so urgently needed.”—George F. Will

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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780300263862
Publisher: Yale University Press
Publication date: 01/17/2023
Pages: 152
Sales rank: 239,876
Product dimensions: 5.60(w) x 8.60(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

Robert D. Kaplan, the Robert Strausz-Hupé Chair in Geopolitics at the Foreign Policy Research Institute, was twice named one of the world’s “Top 100 Global Thinkers” by Foreign Policy. A reporter with decades of experience writing for The Atlantic, he has written twenty-two books, including The Loom of TimeAdriatic; The Good American; The Revenge of Geography; Asia’s Cauldron; Monsoon; The Coming Anarchy; and Balkan Ghosts. He has served on the Pentagon’s Defense Policy Board and the U.S. Navy’s Executive Panel.

Table of Contents

Preface xi

Chapter 1 The Battle of Good Against Good 1

Chapter 2 The Age of Dionysus 17

Chapter 3 Order: The Ultimate Necessity 29

Chapter 4 Order and Necessity Must Be Obeyed, Even When They Are Unjust 41

Chapter 5 Order Creates Perpetual Conflict Between Loyalty to the Family and Loyalty to the State 47

Chapter 6 The State Becomes the Wellspring of Ambition 57

Chapter 7 Ambition and the Struggle Against Tyranny and Injustice 63

Chapter 8 War and Its Horrors 69

Chapter 9 Because War Is Ever-Present, the Burden of Power Is Overwhelming 77

Chapter 10 Imperial Wars Are Decided by Pate 85

Chapter 11 From the Suffering of Heroes Comes the Essence of Tragedy 93

Chapter 12 The Truth Is Possessed Only by the Old and the Blind 99

Chapter 13 Because Different Goods Struggle Against Each Other, We Have Consciences 103

Chapter 14 Time Is Ungrateful 109

Epilogue 113

Notes 117

Acknowledgments 127

Index 129

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