The Return of Marco Polo's World: War, Strategy, and American Interests in the Twenty-first Century

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A bracing assessment of U.S. foreign policy and world disorder over the past two decades, anchored by a major new Pentagon-commissioned essay—from the renowned geopolitical analyst and bestselling author of The Revenge of Geography and The Coming Anarchy.

“Elegant and humane . . . [a] prophecy from an observer with a depressingly accurate record of predictions.”—Bret Stephens, The New York Times Book Review

In the late thirteenth century, Marco Polo began a decades-long trek from Venice to China. The strength of that Silk Road—the trade route between Europe and Asia—was a foundation of Kublai Khan’s sprawling empire. Now, in the early twenty-first century, the Chinese regime has proposed a land-and-maritime Silk Road that duplicates exactly the route Marco Polo traveled.

In the major lead essay, recently released by the Pentagon’s Office of Net Assessment, Robert D. Kaplan lays out a blueprint of the world’s changing power politics that recalls the late thirteenth century. As Europe fractures from changes in culture and migration, Eurasia coheres into a single conflict system. China is constructing a land bridge to Europe. Iran and India are trying to link the oil fields of Central Asia to the Indian Ocean. America’s ability to influence the power balance in Eurasia is declining.

This is Kaplan’s first collection of essays since his classic The Coming Anarchy was published in 2000. Drawing on decades of firsthand experience as a foreign correspondent and military embed for The Atlantic, as well as encounters with preeminent realist thinkers, Kaplan outlines the timeless principles that should shape America’s role in a turbulent world: a respect for the limits of Western-style democracy; a delineation between American interests and American values; an awareness of the psychological toll of warfare; a projection of power via a strong navy; and more.

From Kaplan’s immediate thoughts on President Trump (“On Foreign Policy, Donald Trump Is No Realist,” 2016) to a frank examination of what will happen in the event of war with North Korea (“When North Korea Falls,” 2006), The Return of Marco Polo’s World is a vigorous and honest reckoning with the difficult choices the United States will face in the years ahead.

“These essays constitute a truly pathbreaking, brilliant synthesis and analysis of geographic, political, technological, and economic trends with far-reaching consequences. The Return of Marco Polo’s World is another work by Robert D. Kaplan that will be regarded as a classic.”—General David Petraeus (U.S. Army, Ret.)
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About the author

Robert D. Kaplan is the bestselling author of eighteen books on foreign affairs and travel translated into many languages, including The Return of Marco Polo’s World, Earning the Rockies, In Europe’s Shadow, Asia’s Cauldron, The Revenge of Geography, Monsoon, The Coming Anarchy, and Balkan Ghosts. He is a senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security and a senior advisor at Eurasia Group. For three decades he reported on foreign affairs for The Atlantic. He held the national security chair at the United States Naval Academy and was a member of the Pentagon’s Defense Policy Board. He is currently a member of the U.S. Navy’s Executive Panel. Foreign Policy magazine twice named him one of the world’s Top 100 Global Thinkers
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Additional Information

Publisher
Random House
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Published on
Mar 6, 2018
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Pages
304
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ISBN
9780812996807
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Language
English
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Genres
History / United States / General
Political Science / Essays
Political Science / International Relations / General
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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From America’s preeminent columnist, named by the Financial Times the most influential commentator in the nation, the long-awaited collection of Charles Krauthammer’s essential, timeless writings.
 
A brilliant stylist known for an uncompromising honesty that challenges conventional wisdom at every turn, Krauthammer has for decades daz­zled readers with his keen insight into politics and government. His weekly column is a must-read in Washington and across the country. Now, finally, the best of Krauthammer’s intelligence, erudition and wit are collected in one volume.
 
Readers will find here not only the country’s leading conservative thinker offering a pas­sionate defense of limited government, but also a highly independent mind whose views—on feminism, evolution and the death penalty, for example—defy ideological convention. Things That Matter also features several of Krautham­mer’s major path-breaking essays—on bioeth­ics, on Jewish destiny and on America’s role as the world’s superpower—that have pro­foundly influenced the nation’s thoughts and policies. And finally, the collection presents a trove of always penetrating, often bemused re­flections on everything from border collies to Halley’s Comet, from Woody Allen to Win­ston Churchill, from the punishing pleasures of speed chess to the elegance of the perfectly thrown outfield assist.
 
With a special, highly autobiographical in­troduction in which Krauthammer reflects on the events that shaped his career and political philosophy, this indispensible chronicle takes the reader on a fascinating journey through the fashions and follies, the tragedies and triumphs, of the last three decades of American life.
An incisive portrait of the American landscape that shows how geography continues to determine America’s role in the world

Book Club Pick for Now Read This, from PBS NewsHour and The New York Times • “There is more insight here into the Age of Trump than in bushels of political-horse-race journalism.”—The New York Times Book Review (Editors’ Choice)

At a time when there is little consensus about who we are and what we should be doing with our power overseas, a return to the elemental truths of the American landscape is urgently needed. In Earning the Rockies, New York Times bestselling author Robert D. Kaplan undertakes a cross-country journey, traversing a rich and varied landscape that still remains the primary source of American power. Traveling west, in the same direction as the pioneers, Kaplan witnesses both prosperity and decline, and reexamines the history of westward expansion in a new light: as a story not just of genocide and individualism but also of communalism and a respect for the limits of a water-starved terrain. Concluding at the edge of the Pacific Ocean with a gripping description of an anarchic world, Earning the Rockies shows how America’s foreign policy response ought to be rooted in its own geographical situation.

Praise for Earning the Rockies

“Unflinchingly honest . . . a lens-changing vision of America’s role in the world . . . a jewel of a book that lights the path ahead.”—Secretary of Defense James Mattis

“A sui generis writer . . . America’s East Coast establishment has only one Robert Kaplan, someone as fluently knowledgeable about the Balkans, Iraq, Central Asia and West Africa as he is about Ohio and Wyoming.”—Financial Times

“Kaplan has pursued stories in places as remote as Yemen and Outer Mongolia. In Earning the Rockies, he visits a place almost as remote to many Americans: these United States. . . . The author’s point is a good one: America is formed, in part, by a geographic setting that is both sanctuary and watchtower.”—The Wall Street Journal 

“A brilliant reminder of the impact of America’s geography on its strategy. . . . Kaplan’s latest contribution should be required reading.”—Henry A. Kissinger

“A text both evocative and provocative for readers who like to think … In his final sections, Kaplan discusses in scholarly but accessible detail the significant role that America has played and must play in this shuddering world.”—Kirkus Reviews
In this provocative, startling book, Robert D. Kaplan, the bestselling author of Monsoon and Balkan Ghosts, offers a revelatory new prism through which to view global upheavals and to understand what lies ahead for continents and countries around the world.
 
In The Revenge of Geography, Kaplan builds on the insights, discoveries, and theories of great geographers and geopolitical thinkers of the near and distant past to look back at critical pivots in history and then to look forward at the evolving global scene. Kaplan traces the history of the world’s hot spots by examining their climates, topographies, and proximities to other embattled lands. The Russian steppe’s pitiless climate and limited vegetation bred hard and cruel men bent on destruction, for example, while Nazi geopoliticians distorted geopolitics entirely, calculating that space on the globe used by the British Empire and the Soviet Union could be swallowed by a greater German homeland.
 
Kaplan then applies the lessons learned to the present crises in Europe, Russia, China, the Indian subcontinent, Turkey, Iran, and the Arab Middle East. The result is a holistic interpretation of the next cycle of conflict throughout Eurasia. Remarkably, the future can be understood in the context of temperature, land allotment, and other physical certainties: China, able to feed only 23 percent of its people from land that is only 7 percent arable, has sought energy, minerals, and metals from such brutal regimes as Burma, Iran, and Zimbabwe, putting it in moral conflict with the United States. Afghanistan’s porous borders will keep it the principal invasion route into India, and a vital rear base for Pakistan, India’s main enemy. Iran will exploit the advantage of being the only country that straddles both energy-producing areas of the Persian Gulf and the Caspian Sea. Finally, Kaplan posits that the United States might rue engaging in far-flung conflicts with Iraq and Afghanistan rather than tending to its direct neighbor Mexico, which is on the verge of becoming a semifailed state due to drug cartel carnage.
 
A brilliant rebuttal to thinkers who suggest that globalism will trump geography, this indispensable work shows how timeless truths and natural facts can help prevent this century’s looming cataclysms.

Praise for The Revenge of Geography
 
“[An] ambitious and challenging new book . . . [The Revenge of Geography] displays a formidable grasp of contemporary world politics and serves as a powerful reminder that it has been the planet’s geophysical configurations, as much as the flow of competing religions and ideologies, that have shaped human conflicts, past and present.”—Malise Ruthven, The New York Review of Books
 
“Robert D. Kaplan, the world-traveling reporter and intellectual whose fourteen books constitute a bedrock of penetrating exposition and analysis on the post-Cold War world . . . strips away much of the cant that suffuses public discourse these days on global developments and gets to a fundamental reality: that geography remains today, as it has been throughout history, one of the most powerful drivers of world events.”—The National Interest
 
“Kaplan plunges into a planetary review that is often thrilling in its sheer scale . . . encyclopedic.”—The New Yorker
 
“[The Revenge of Geography] serves the facts straight up. . . . Kaplan’s realism and willingness to face hard facts make The Revenge of Geography a valuable antidote to the feel-good manifestoes that often masquerade as strategic thought.”—The Daily Beast


From the Hardcover edition.
"All first-rate criticism first defines what we are confronting," the late, great jazz critic Whitney Balliett once wrote. By that measure, the essays of Christopher Hitchens are in the first tier. For nearly four decades, Hitchens has been telling us, in pitch-perfect prose, what we confront when we grapple with first principles-the principles of reason and tolerance and skepticism that define and inform the foundations of our civilization-principles that, to endure, must be defended anew by every generation.

"A short list of the greatest living conversationalists in English," said The Economist, "would probably have to include Christopher Hitchens, Sir Patrick Leigh-Fermor, and Sir Tom Stoppard. Great brilliance, fantastic powers of recall, and quick wit are clearly valuable in sustaining conversation at these cosmic levels. Charm may be helpful, too." Hitchens-who staunchly declines all offers of knighthood-hereby invites you to take a seat at a democratic conversation, to be engaged, and to be reasoned with. His knowledge is formidable, an encyclopedic treasure, and yet one has the feeling, reading him, of hearing a person thinking out loud, following the inexorable logic of his thought, wherever it might lead, unafraid to expose fraudulence, denounce injustice, and excoriate hypocrisy. Legions of readers, admirers and detractors alike, have learned to read Hitchens with something approaching awe at his felicity of language, the oxygen in every sentence, the enviable wit and his readiness, even eagerness, to fight a foe or mount the ramparts.

Here, he supplies fresh perceptions of such figures as varied as Charles Dickens, Karl Marx, Rebecca West, George Orwell, J.G. Ballard, and Philip Larkin are matched in brilliance by his pungent discussions and intrepid observations, gathered from a lifetime of traveling and reporting from such destinations as Iran, China, and Pakistan.

Hitchens's directness, elegance, lightly carried erudition, critical and psychological insight, humor, and sympathy-applied as they are here to a dazzling variety of subjects-all set a standard for the essayist that has rarely been matched in our time. What emerges from this indispensable volume is an intellectual self-portrait of a writer with an exemplary steadiness of purpose and a love affair with the delights and seductions of the English language, a man anchored in a profound and humane vision of the human longing for reason and justice.



'A nation without a national government is an awful spectacle.' In the winter of 1787-8 a series of eighty-five essays appeared in the New York press; the purpose of the essays was to persuade the citizens of New York State to ratify the Constitution of the United States. The three authors - Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay - were respectively the first Secretary of the Treasury, the fourth President, and the first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court in American history. Each had played a crucial role in the events of the American Revolution; together they were convinced of the need to weld thirteen disparate and newly-independent states into a union. Their essays make the case for a new and united nation, governed under a written Constitution that endures to this day. The Federalist Papers are an indispensable guide to the intentions of the founding fathers who created the United States, and a canonical text in the development of western political thought. This new edition pays full attention to the classical learning of their authors and the historical examples they deploy. ABOUT THE SERIES: For over 100 years Oxford World's Classics has made available the widest range of literature from around the globe. Each affordable volume reflects Oxford's commitment to scholarship, providing the most accurate text plus a wealth of other valuable features, including expert introductions by leading authorities, helpful notes to clarify the text, up-to-date bibliographies for further study, and much more.
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