The Post American World Hardcover – May 6 2008
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From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. When a book proclaims that it is not about the decline of America but the rise of everyone else, readers might expect another diatribe about our dismal post-9/11 world. They are in for a pleasant surprise as Newsweek editor and popular pundit Zakaria (The Future of Freedom) delivers a stimulating, largely optimistic forecast of where the 21st century is heading. We are living in a peaceful era, he maintains; world violence peaked around 1990 and has plummeted to a record low. Burgeoning prosperity has spread to the developing world, raising standards of living in Brazil, India, China and Indonesia. Twenty years ago China discarded Soviet economics but not its politics, leading to a wildly effective, top-down, scorched-earth boom. Its political antithesis, India, also prospers while remaining a chaotic, inefficient democracy, as Indian elected officials are (generally) loathe to use the brutally efficient tactics that are the staple of Chinese governance. Paradoxically, India's greatest asset is its relative stability in the region; its officials take an unruly population for granted, while dissent produces paranoia in Chinese leaders. Zakaria predicts that despite its record of recent blunders at home and abroad, America will stay strong, buoyed by a stellar educational system and the influx of young immigrants, who give the U.S. a more youthful demographic than Europe and much of Asia whose workers support an increasing population of unproductive elderly. A lucid, thought-provoking appraisal of world affairs, this book will engage readers on both sides of the political spectrum. (May)
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“Compelling.” — Thomas Friedman (New York Times)
“A provocative and often shrewd take that opens a big picture window on the closing of the first American century and the advent of a new world.” — Michiko Kakutani (New York Times)
“Zakaria . . . may have more intellectual range and insights than any other public thinker in the West.” — Boston Sunday Globe
“Prophetic brilliance, near-perfect clarity, and a stirring eloquence.” — Philadelphia Inquirer
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Top Customer Reviews
In any case, this short book is a terrific survey of 20th century developments specifically leading to the globalization phenomenon that has led to economic miracles occuring in both China and India. I say survey, because Zakaria does not intend the book to be a complete treatise on the subject, but rather to present a concise overview of the major themes and most importantly offer his prognosis for the future.
According to Zakaria, the "post american world" is one where the balance of power has readjusted after the temporary imbalance post cold-war which gave the US sole superpower status for over a decade. In summing up Zakaria's vision of this new relationship he states that "there is now a conversation with the Americans in the room, and one without, the key point being that a conversation now exists with or without the Americans."
Some reviewers have been overly critical of Zakaria for his somewhat apologetic view especially towards China, given its atrocious human rights record, continued oppression of Tibet, complete disregard for the natural environment and exploitation of resources from developing countries. It is true that Zakaria fails to highlight any of these critical issues, however, all of that still does not detract whatsoever from his central argument that China is rapidly rising and will soon out-produce the US in a few decades despite the human costs.
Zakaria's writing style is clear, uncluttered, and straightforward. In my opinion, "Post American World" is one of the more important non-fiction books of the year.
My main criticism of this book is that someone who has read a paper like the New York Times regularly over the past five years would have found little new or insightful. Too much of the book simply summarizes global events. Other than the examples of how the world is advancing at a better clip than America is, the author provides few unusual insights about the state of world affairs.
I became interested in this book when I learned that then-candidate Obama had been reading it. After reading it, I had hoped that the author's main view would become a central theme to the Obama presidency. I still maintain that belief and support this book fully if it encourages others to believe so as well.
It seems like this book was a hard affair to compose for Mr. Zakaria. He is an American and proud of it, and the book becomes an effort to boost his country in what almost amounts to be pre-emptive defence against potential charges of being "foreign," as if that has any real criticism. However, the midsection of this book is a mire of mythmaking and contradiction. The whole nature of the book, the very title is betrayed as Mr. Zakaria goes from the near future to the past, with a view to critiquing the decline of the British Empire. That he does it so poorly is a testament to propaganda over fact. I was infuriated when he decried the British industry's focus on Bicycles versus the American emphasis on Automobiles - as if the British of that period needed them as much as Americans, coming from a small island with an extensive rail network! He also seems to forget that British heavy industry could produce ships like no one else on earth, but apparently that doesn't matter.Read more ›
Mario A. Stocco
Most recent customer reviews
Interesting, educational, review of ancient history, civilization, cultures and religions with changes over time for China, India, W. Europe and USA. Read morePublished on Nov. 11 2011 by Jim Arthurs
I receive the book on time, and it's in excellent condition as described. THANKS!!!Published on March 28 2010 by Wang He
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