This book was very tough to slog through, but the ideas were superb, even if most of them came from thinkers from before the 20th century.
- Well organized. There are three distinct sections: (1) an overview of several theories of geography (most of which are old and not politically correct today); (2) case studies of the most important zones in the current world; and (3) a short prophecy of America’s own destiny.
- Good synthesis of ideas. Mackinder, Spykman, and Mahan are the most referenced.
- Focuses on relevant regions: Europe, Russia, China, India, Persia/Iran, and Ottoman Empire/Turkey.
- Makes substantive predictions based on geography. For example, the book (2012) forewarned the recent Ukraine-Crimea-Russia situation.
- Gives a nuanced view of the role of geography. Kaplan carefully says the determinism is only partial. (I originally had the wrong impression from the title & subtitle that it was going to be more deterministic.)
- The third section, on America’s fate, is particularly solid. If you could only read 50 pages of the book, it should be the last part.
- Often, the writing is neither clear nor concise.
- Not that much original content, though still valuable as synthesis. (The exception is the last section, which has a lot more content.)
Not sure that this book replaces Diamond or Huntington, but it is an excellent addition.
Kaplan, Robert D. (2012).The Revenge of Geography: What the Map Tells Us About Coming Conflicts and the Battle Against Fate.