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The Second World: Empires and Influence in the New Global Order

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ISBN13: 9781400065080
ISBN10: 1400065089
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Staff Pick

"The Second World will be the definitive guide to world politics for years to come," says the flap copy. Clearly Random House is very high on this book. Could it be publishing's next The World Is Flat? You'd have to read more geopolitical economic theory than I do to say for sure, but The Second World did make me look at America's future in a new light.

"The regions and countries explored in this book — collectively referred to as the 'second world,'" Khanna writes, "are today the central stage on which the future course of global order is being determined." He travels to more than 100 nations, visiting megacities and remote villages alike, and talks to thousands of people along the way. Those first-hand experiences, delivered within the context of political history and economic theory, make for a fascinating study of evolving international power.
Recommended by Dave, Powells.com

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

Grand explanations of how to understand the complex twenty-first-century world have all fallen short — until now. In The Second World, the brilliant young scholar Parag Khanna takes readers on a thrilling global tour, one that shows how America's dominant moment has been suddenly replaced by a geopolitical marketplace wherein the European Union and China compete with the United States to shape world order on their own terms.

This contest is hottest and most decisive in the Second World: pivotal regions in Eastern Europe, Central Asia, Latin America, the Middle East, and East Asia. Khanna explores the evolution of geopolitics through the recent histories of such underreported, fascinating, and complicated countries as Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan, Colombia, Libya, Vietnam, and Malaysia — nations whose resources will ultimately determine the fate of the three superpowers, but whose futures are perennially uncertain as they struggle to rise into the first world or avoid falling into the third.

Informed, witty, and armed with a traveler's intuition for blending into diverse cultures, Khanna mixes copious research with deep reportage to remake the map of the world. He depicts second-world societies from the inside out, observing how globalization divides them into winners and losers along political, economic, and cultural lines — and shows how China, Europe, and America use their unique imperial gravities to pull the second-world countries into their orbits. Along the way, Khanna also explains how Arabism and Islamism compete for the Arab soul, reveals how Iran and Saudi Arabia play the superpowers against one another, unmasks Singapore's inspirational role in East Asia, and psychoanalyzes the second-world leaders whose decisions are reshaping the balance of power. He captures the most elusive formula in international affairs: how to think like a country.

In the twenty-first century, globalization is the main battlefield of geopolitics, and America itself runs the risk of descending into the second world if it does not renew itself and redefine its role in the world. Comparable in scope and boldness to Francis Fukuyama's The End of History and the Last Man and Samuel P. Huntington's The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order, Parag Khanna's The Second World will be the definitive guide to world politics for years to come.

Review:

"Khanna, a widely recognized expert on global politics, offers an study of the 21st century's emerging 'geopolitical marketplace' dominated by three 'first world' superpowers, the U.S., Europe and China. Each competes to lead the new century, pursuing that goal in the 'third world': select eastern European countries, east and central Asia, the Middle East Latin America, and North Africa. The U.S. offers military protection and aid. Europe offers deep reform and economic association. China offers full-service, condition-free relationships. Each can be appealing; none has obvious advantages. The key to Khanna's analysis, however, is his depiction of a 'second world': countries in transition. They range in size and population from heavily peopled states like Brazil and Indonesia to smaller ones such as Malaysia. Khanna interprets the coming years as being shaped by the race to win the second world — and in the case of the U.S., to avoid becoming a second-world country itself. The final pages of his book warn eloquently of the risks of imperial overstretch combined with declining economic dominance and deteriorating quality of life. By themselves those pages are worth the price of a book that from beginning to end inspires reflection." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Review:

"To most Americans, small is not beautiful. We like being Number One. We take pride in a military that is second to none. We boast that Wall Street drives the world's financial markets (even if it's downward); that American scientists win more Nobel Prizes than anyone else; that our universities draw scholars and students from around the globe; that our symphony orchestras match Europe's best; and,... Washington Post Book Review (read the entire Washington Post review)

Review:

"A savvy, streetwise primer on dozens of individual countries that adds up to a coherent theory of global politics." Robert D. Kaplan

Review:

"A panoramic overview that boldly addresses the dilemmas of the world that our next president will confront." Dr. Zbigniew Brzezinski, former national security advisor

Review:

"Parag Khanna's fascinating book takes us on an epic journey around the multipolar world, elegantly combining historical analysis, political theory, and eye-witness reports to shed light on the battle for primacy between the world's new empires." Mark Leonard, Executive Director, European Council on Foreign Relations

Synopsis:

Khanna takes readers on a thrilling global tour, one that shows how America's dominant moment has been suddenly replaced by a geopolitical marketplace where the European Union and China compete with the United States to shape world order on their own terms.

Synopsis:

Grand explanations of how to understand the complex twenty-first-century world have all fallen short–until now. In The Second World, the brilliant young scholar Parag Khanna takes readers on a thrilling global tour, one that shows how Americas dominant moment has been suddenly replaced by a geopolitical marketplace wherein the European Union and China compete with the United States to shape world order on their own terms.

This contest is hottest and most decisive in the Second World: pivotal regions in Eastern Europe, Central Asia, Latin America, the Middle East, and East Asia. Khanna explores the evolution of geopolitics through the recent histories of such underreported, fascinating, and complicated countries as Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan, Colombia, Libya, Vietnam, and Malaysia–nations whose resources will ultimately determine the fate of the three superpowers, but whose futures are perennially uncertain as they struggle to rise into the first world or avoid falling into the third.

Informed, witty, and armed with a travelers intuition for blending into diverse cultures, Khanna mixes copious research with deep reportage to remake the map of the world. He depicts second-world societies from the inside out, observing how globalization divides them into winners and losers along political, economic, and cultural lines–and shows how China, Europe, and America use their unique imperial gravities to pull the second-world countries into their orbits. Along the way, Khanna also explains how Arabism and Islamism compete for the Arab soul, reveals how Iran and Saudi Arabia play the superpowers against one another, unmasks Singapores inspirational role in East Asia, and psychoanalyzes the second-world leaders whose decisions are reshaping the balance of power. He captures the most elusive formula in international affairs: how to think like a country.

In the twenty-first century, globalization is the main battlefield of geopolitics, and America itself runs the risk of descending into the second world if it does not renew itself and redefine its role in the world.

Comparable in scope and boldness to Francis Fukuyamas The End of History and the Last Man and Samuel P. Huntingtons The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order, Parag Khannas The Second World will be the definitive guide to world politics for years to come.

“A savvy, streetwise primer on dozens of individual countries that adds up to a coherent theory of global politics.”

–Robert D. Kaplan, author of Eastward to Tartary and Warrior Politics

“A panoramic overview that boldly addresses the dilemmas of the world that our next president will confront.”

–Dr. Zbigniew Brzezinski, former national security advisor

"Parag Khanna's fascinating book takes us on an epic journey around the multipolar world, elegantly combining historical analysis, political theory, and eye-witness reports to shed light on the battle for primacy between the world's new empires."

–Mark Leonard, Executive Director, European Council on Foreign Relations

"Khanna, a widely recognized expert on global politics, offers an study of the 21st century's emerging "geopolitical marketplace" dominated by three "first world" superpowers, the U.S., Europe and China... The final pages of his book warn eloquently of the risks of imperial overstretch combined with declining economic dominance and deteriorating quality of life. By themselves those pages are worth the price of a book that from beginning to end inspires reflection."

–Publishers Weekly

About the Author

Parag Khanna directs the Global Governance Initiative in the American Strategy Program of the New America Foundation. He has been a fellow at the Brookings Institution and worked for the World Economic Forum and the Council on Foreign Relations. During 2007, he was a senior geopolitical advisor to U.S. Special Operations Command. Born in India, Khanna was raised in the United Arab Emirates, the United States, and Germany. He holds undergraduate and graduate degrees from the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University and is completing his Ph.D. at the London School of Economics. He has written for major global publications such as The New York Times and Financial Times and appeared on CNN and other television media around the world. Having traveled in close to one hundred countries. He is a member of the Explorers Club.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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mark_nuckols, July 21, 2008 (view all comments by mark_nuckols)


Having been generously praised in book reviews in the New York Times, the Washington Post, and the Financial Times, among other publications, I ordered the book with great interest. And as I began to read this book, I was at first shocked, and then increasingly appalled, at a systematic pattern of serious errors of fact, ludicrous assertions that jarred with reality, fundamental misunderstandings of basic economics or history, cheap clichés, and recorded conversations which struck me as obviously fabricated. Every chapter is riddled with astonishing flaws, but here I will simply address those dealing with the Balkans and the former Soviet Union.

Khanna’s basic thesis is simplistic and in those parts where he is not obviously wrong, he merely states what is clearly obvious. States compete for influence and power. Duh. But rather than going through the tedious exercise of explaining how and why he gets so much of the analysis wrong, I will merely not some of the more obvious factual blunders and apparent fabrications that mar this terrible book.

Some of the various, and numerous, factual errors that riddle the book are relatively trivial, but suggest serious sloppiness and disregard for getting facts right. For example, Yugoslavia was not part of Warsaw pact, as Khanna states. Moscow mayor Yuri Luzhkov was appointed to office in 1992 by Boris Yeltsin, and not by Vladimir Putin. Serbia, Bosnia, Croatia, Macedonia and Albania are not all smaller by population than Manhattan, and the death toll from the civil wars in former Yugoslavia was not greater than half a million. Other obviously wrong assertions seem to be made up simply to provide lurid background color to Khanna’s travelogue: the former KGB headquarters in Moscow has not been turned into “a high-class disco,” expensive Moscow malls do not charge entrance fees, and police road checkpoints in Uzbekistan do not stop and check all vehicles. And other gross misstatements of fact display a simple complete lack of understanding the history and culture of the countries of which he writes: the (Orthodox) Uspenky cave monastery in Crimea is not representative of Ukraine’s “proud Catholic heritage,” Zoran Djindjic was not the first democratically elected leader since World War II in former Yugoslavia (ironically, Slobodan Milosevic has the strongest claim to that honor) , and in the 1980s Yugoslav republics like Bosnia and Macedonia were not richer than Spain. Many of Khanna’s wildly wrong claims sound like local myths that he has taken at face value. I can easily imagine some misguided elderly Belgrade resident waxing nostalgically for the days “when every one of our republics was richer than Spain!”

Yet more of Khanna’s assertions are not merely factually wrong, but far exceed the ludicrous. In the fast paced and dangerous Russian business world, “one is safe only in the sauna, where everyone is naked and no weapons are allowed.” (Khanna obviously never visited my ex-wife’s family sauna, where everyone is armed with a fully loaded Kalishnikov!) It was news to me to learn from Khanna that every winter “waves” of Russians and “thousands of Ukrainians” freeze to death in “crumbling heatless apartment blocks.” And he employs gross mischaracterizations of fact to buttress his claims. For example, according to Khanna, in 2006 Greek GDP increased 25% when the government started to account for prostitution and cigarette smuggling in its figures. In fact, the government said it would include all unreported economic activity, mostly in construction and trade, but including a “small” amount for illegal activities such as smuggling. And this is merely a sampling of patently ridiculous claims.

And for a “foreign policy whiz-kid,” Khanna makes numerous and serious analytical mistakes, showing a clear misunderstanding of economics, international institutions, and international relations. The unhedged statement, “Russia’s diplomatic position is purely residual,” will surely surprise diplomats from Brussels to Tokyo. Noting that Gazprom’s market capitalization is $300 billion leads Khanna to the conclusion that Gazprom is one third of the Russian economy, confusing market capitalization with GDP. And his bald assertion that “[n]one of Central Asian legal systems have evolved beyond Kakfaaesque” is belied by the numerous successful legislative accomplishments of Kazakhstan and its quite sophisticated legal code, for example.

He has harsh words for the United States, bordering on hysteria. Likewise, he sees the European Union as a beacon of progress and a model for the future. And yet he betrays a clear lack of understanding of EU institutions. For example, Britain does not share with Turkey a similar status of “privileged partner” of the EU, converg[ing] with the EU only when it suits their interests.” And while he manages to drop the names of hundreds of obscure statesmen and scholars, there is not one mention of Jean Monnet.

And this awful book is chock-a-block with cheap clichés. Vladimir Putin is a “steely former KGB official.” A “Soviet era foreign ministry building” and “Soviet era apartment buildings” alike are “hulking.” Here in Moscow, there is a “perpetually insecure business caste that lives each day like its last, partying with exotic lions and dominatrix dancers, complete with plenty of caviar.” One must pity the “champagne-soaked, Hummer-driving scions” of Kiev, who must settle for “fancy nightclubs such as Decadence.” And “Kiev, like Moscow, is a Potemkin village.”

And many of the clichés regarding Russia and Ukraine are not merely examples of poor imagination and lack of writing skill, they are downright ugly. “From cars to construction, if something in Russia works it is probably European.” Khanna obviously has not been to any modern Russian manufacturing facilities. He also writes that the Baltic states view “the formerly great Russian bear like an alcoholic uncle, with a mixture f pity and concern.” In a stunning bit of cultural hubris, Khanna sneers “Georgians may be Christians, but they are not European in any meaningful sense – no matter how relentlessly they fly the EU flag across the capital city, Tbilisi.”

But the worst moments of Khanna’s book are when he quotes conversations that seem of such dubious authenticity as to make me believe they may be fabricated, or at best the result of very selective reporting, only relating those comments that fit within his pre-existing views. “’Our pride has suffered’” explains a “Moscow intellectual over a narrow glass of [of course] ice-chilled vodka, ‘but this only drives our nationalism further.’” In Kiev, the locals “give lifts to strangers for a token fare.” Why? “We suffered enough together, so we still trust each other.” There are just too many such (anonymous) quotations that fail to ring true to trust in the author’s integrity. And he also reports statements by national leaders as if they were heard in personal conversation, yet in a curiously implied fashion that suggests otherwise.

And Khanna makes innumerable observations that he believes show particular insight, but are shocking banal if thought over for a mere moment. He notes dryly that Turkey is “a country that has fought wars with nearly all its neighbours.” Well, so is France. And in fact just about every country which has been around for the 20th century, or earlier, has fought its neighbours at one time or another. He also notes with immense concern that “Russian and Chinese firms now control most of [Uzbekistan’s] mineral deposits.” It doesn’t seem obvious to Khanna that Russia and China are quite natural trading partners and sources of foreign investment.

It also seems apparent that he has not been to all the countries he purports to have visited. He just gets too much of the local feel and atmosphere wrong to be credible. And I am pretty sure some of the comments he presents as personal conversations with national leaders, like Georgian President Saakashvili are in fact merely repeated from published press stories.

I could go on for pages, but I think this short summary of Khanna’s mistakes and perhaps outright fabrications is sufficient.


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Product Details

ISBN:
9781400065080
Subtitle:
Empires and Influence in the New Global Order
Author:
Khanna, Parag
Publisher:
Random House
Subject:
World politics
Subject:
Geopolitics
Subject:
International Relations - General
Subject:
General Political Science
Copyright:
Publication Date:
20080304
Binding:
Hardback
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Illustrations:
5 MAPS
Pages:
496
Dimensions:
9.50x6.42x1.20 in. 1.78 lbs.

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Related Subjects

History and Social Science » Politics » International Studies
History and Social Science » Politics » United States » Foreign Policy

The Second World: Empires and Influence in the New Global Order Used Hardcover
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Product details 496 pages Random House - English 9781400065080 Reviews:
"Staff Pick" by ,

"The Second World will be the definitive guide to world politics for years to come," says the flap copy. Clearly Random House is very high on this book. Could it be publishing's next The World Is Flat? You'd have to read more geopolitical economic theory than I do to say for sure, but The Second World did make me look at America's future in a new light.

"The regions and countries explored in this book — collectively referred to as the 'second world,'" Khanna writes, "are today the central stage on which the future course of global order is being determined." He travels to more than 100 nations, visiting megacities and remote villages alike, and talks to thousands of people along the way. Those first-hand experiences, delivered within the context of political history and economic theory, make for a fascinating study of evolving international power.

"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Khanna, a widely recognized expert on global politics, offers an study of the 21st century's emerging 'geopolitical marketplace' dominated by three 'first world' superpowers, the U.S., Europe and China. Each competes to lead the new century, pursuing that goal in the 'third world': select eastern European countries, east and central Asia, the Middle East Latin America, and North Africa. The U.S. offers military protection and aid. Europe offers deep reform and economic association. China offers full-service, condition-free relationships. Each can be appealing; none has obvious advantages. The key to Khanna's analysis, however, is his depiction of a 'second world': countries in transition. They range in size and population from heavily peopled states like Brazil and Indonesia to smaller ones such as Malaysia. Khanna interprets the coming years as being shaped by the race to win the second world — and in the case of the U.S., to avoid becoming a second-world country itself. The final pages of his book warn eloquently of the risks of imperial overstretch combined with declining economic dominance and deteriorating quality of life. By themselves those pages are worth the price of a book that from beginning to end inspires reflection." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Review" by , "A savvy, streetwise primer on dozens of individual countries that adds up to a coherent theory of global politics."
"Review" by , "A panoramic overview that boldly addresses the dilemmas of the world that our next president will confront."
"Review" by , "Parag Khanna's fascinating book takes us on an epic journey around the multipolar world, elegantly combining historical analysis, political theory, and eye-witness reports to shed light on the battle for primacy between the world's new empires."
"Synopsis" by , Khanna takes readers on a thrilling global tour, one that shows how America's dominant moment has been suddenly replaced by a geopolitical marketplace where the European Union and China compete with the United States to shape world order on their own terms.
"Synopsis" by , Grand explanations of how to understand the complex twenty-first-century world have all fallen short–until now. In The Second World, the brilliant young scholar Parag Khanna takes readers on a thrilling global tour, one that shows how Americas dominant moment has been suddenly replaced by a geopolitical marketplace wherein the European Union and China compete with the United States to shape world order on their own terms.

This contest is hottest and most decisive in the Second World: pivotal regions in Eastern Europe, Central Asia, Latin America, the Middle East, and East Asia. Khanna explores the evolution of geopolitics through the recent histories of such underreported, fascinating, and complicated countries as Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan, Colombia, Libya, Vietnam, and Malaysia–nations whose resources will ultimately determine the fate of the three superpowers, but whose futures are perennially uncertain as they struggle to rise into the first world or avoid falling into the third.

Informed, witty, and armed with a travelers intuition for blending into diverse cultures, Khanna mixes copious research with deep reportage to remake the map of the world. He depicts second-world societies from the inside out, observing how globalization divides them into winners and losers along political, economic, and cultural lines–and shows how China, Europe, and America use their unique imperial gravities to pull the second-world countries into their orbits. Along the way, Khanna also explains how Arabism and Islamism compete for the Arab soul, reveals how Iran and Saudi Arabia play the superpowers against one another, unmasks Singapores inspirational role in East Asia, and psychoanalyzes the second-world leaders whose decisions are reshaping the balance of power. He captures the most elusive formula in international affairs: how to think like a country.

In the twenty-first century, globalization is the main battlefield of geopolitics, and America itself runs the risk of descending into the second world if it does not renew itself and redefine its role in the world.

Comparable in scope and boldness to Francis Fukuyamas The End of History and the Last Man and Samuel P. Huntingtons The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order, Parag Khannas The Second World will be the definitive guide to world politics for years to come.

“A savvy, streetwise primer on dozens of individual countries that adds up to a coherent theory of global politics.”

–Robert D. Kaplan, author of Eastward to Tartary and Warrior Politics

“A panoramic overview that boldly addresses the dilemmas of the world that our next president will confront.”

–Dr. Zbigniew Brzezinski, former national security advisor

"Parag Khanna's fascinating book takes us on an epic journey around the multipolar world, elegantly combining historical analysis, political theory, and eye-witness reports to shed light on the battle for primacy between the world's new empires."

–Mark Leonard, Executive Director, European Council on Foreign Relations

"Khanna, a widely recognized expert on global politics, offers an study of the 21st century's emerging "geopolitical marketplace" dominated by three "first world" superpowers, the U.S., Europe and China... The final pages of his book warn eloquently of the risks of imperial overstretch combined with declining economic dominance and deteriorating quality of life. By themselves those pages are worth the price of a book that from beginning to end inspires reflection."

–Publishers Weekly

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