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4.0 von 5 Sternen A Good Use of Reading Time
Although Kaplan attempts to style this dense book as a semi-linear travel narrative, it is actually more of an heavily footnoted eyewitness account of the dramatic transitions occurring in various developing regions. Chock full of provocative and disturbing ideas culled from many social sciences, the book starts with a largely pessimistic 89 pages of West Africa and 37...
Veröffentlicht am 29. April 1999 von A. Ross

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3.0 von 5 Sternen A competent survey of the world's nastier places.
Robert Kaplan leads you through an intelligent survey of some of the globe's nastier places. This is good book. It is smart, interesting, and should make people think about some problems most of us would rather ignore. It is not a great book. I would say Kaplan got too ambitious, and it shows. He tried to pack too many things - too many countries, too many ideas, too...
Am 22. November 1998 veröffentlicht


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4.0 von 5 Sternen A Good Use of Reading Time, 29. April 1999
Von 
A. Ross (Washington, DC) - Alle meine Rezensionen ansehen
(REAL NAME)   
Rezension bezieht sich auf: The Ends of the Earth: From Togo to Turkmenistan, from Iran to Cambodia, a Journey to the Frontiers of Anarchy (Vintage Departures) (Taschenbuch)
Although Kaplan attempts to style this dense book as a semi-linear travel narrative, it is actually more of an heavily footnoted eyewitness account of the dramatic transitions occurring in various developing regions. Chock full of provocative and disturbing ideas culled from many social sciences, the book starts with a largely pessimistic 89 pages of West Africa and 37 pages of Egypt. I didn't find anything particularly new or illuminating in these two sections, but they serve as a good introduction to the issues if you aren't familiar with what's happening there, although recent events somewhat date his account of West Africa in particular. It didn't take me long to get fed up with Kaplan's machine gun use of statistics to support his observations. That, and his tendency to repeat himself, undermine his attempts at literary narrative. Fortunately, I came to a deeply engrossing 45 pages of Turkey and the Caucuses, 70 pages of Iran, and 96 pages of Central Asia. These three sections were what made the book for me, even readers already familiar with the areas will find value in Kaplan's account. It was here that Kaplan seemed most comfortable and most knowledgeable. Lots of great info about the ethnic dynamics of the areas and great historical tidbits make these worth interesting even if you don't read the sections before or after. What follows is a sporadically interesting 100 pages on the Indian subcontinent and "Indochina." The book is greatly aided by its maps, and Kaplan is careful to acknowledge the sources of the ideas he presents. There is also an excellent bibliography for those interested in followup reading. The great value in this book lies in Kaplan's insistence (correct in my belief) that population growth is the single most destabilizing force in the world today and that it must be addressed before all else.
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3.0 von 5 Sternen A competent survey of the world's nastier places., 22. November 1998
Von Ein Kunde
Rezension bezieht sich auf: The Ends of the Earth: From Togo to Turkmenistan, from Iran to Cambodia, a Journey to the Frontiers of Anarchy (Vintage Departures) (Taschenbuch)
Robert Kaplan leads you through an intelligent survey of some of the globe's nastier places. This is good book. It is smart, interesting, and should make people think about some problems most of us would rather ignore. It is not a great book. I would say Kaplan got too ambitious, and it shows. He tried to pack too many things - too many countries, too many ideas, too many stories - into one book. As a result it's a very reportorial work - it tells you the basics, it surprises you with interesting bits, and it even digs a little bit beyond the surface. But when it comes time to say "but what does it mean, Dorothy?" - zoom! We're off to the next hellhole on our tour. There's nothing wrong with reportorial, but Kaplan seems to promise something more. He doesn't deliver. He would have been better served by devoting more time to fewer countries. For instance, by his own admission he spent very little time in Laos and did not get a good picture of the country as a whole. Then why write about it? Would this be a worse book without the sketchy Laotian chapter? Hey, I've been in Malaysia for week, but I'm not writing a book about it. The holes in the book are filled with Kaplan's self-important wishy-washy musings. He's full of ideas, only they conflict with each other, and he can't decide which one is the best or how they should all fit together. After a couple of hundred pages, I was yelling "Look, do you have a conclusion or not? Because if you don't, why not have a lie down, figure out an answer, and THEN write it down!" It's fine to write "I didn't know what to think," it chapter 1, but by the end of the book, well, you should have a better idea what to think. You shouldn't endlessly pose the same answerless questions. Far too many chapters end with something like "There was no more time. I was off to (Togo/Turkmenistan/Laos)." Hmmm. Maybe he should have spent some more time thinking of some answers. I have to say I would have liked this book more if I had not read "Balkan Ghosts". With that book I felt Kaplan actually knew the area and understood the passions and fault lines that tear the Balkans apart. It raised my expectations for this book. In "The Ends of the Earth" we have to be content with what we see on the surface. We're not going anywhere, but we're making good time.
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2.0 von 5 Sternen he doesn't quite get it, 5. Juli 1998
Rezension bezieht sich auf: The Ends of the Earth: From Togo to Turkmenistan, from Iran to Cambodia, a Journey to the Frontiers of Anarchy (Vintage Departures) (Taschenbuch)
i enjoyed this book on many levels. it provided looks into parts of the third world summarily ignored by the mainstream media. i also found Kaplan's extensive histories of the places he visited very interesting. my problem with the book: it is completely about countries with brown people in them, but the point of view is steadfastly White American. he sees many of these countries' problems as their failure to modernize without questioning the need to modernize in spite of the enormous failures that have taken place in the lands he visits. he acknowledges that traditional colonialism affected the third world, but now he feels it's time to blame the victim, ignore obvious neo-colonialism, and begin to understand why all these people are "failing." his views are vaguely racist and limited: Africans are hopeless, Asians are getting better, and Middle Eastern countries with the most Western values are sure to succeed. Kaplan never bothers to step outside of mainstream thought, even after being confronted with incredible human suffering and environmental destruction (his method of judging a country's modernity: how many computers and fax machines he sees in the cities). this is the part i found shocking. somebody who has the privilege to see the third world and its horrors and doesn't really stop to think fundamentally for a second. he never questions capitalism or technology for one second. it frightens me that this mindset is so powerful that it can't even be budged with a glimpse of its reality.
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4.0 von 5 Sternen Provocative, nice tidbits inside, 30. November 1997
Von Ein Kunde
Rezension bezieht sich auf: The Ends of the Earth: From Togo to Turkmenistan, from Iran to Cambodia, a Journey to the Frontiers of Anarchy (Vintage Departures) (Taschenbuch)
I think this is nicely done travelogue. His itinerary was a little haphazard toward the end, but one doesn't always have control over such things. Several accounts in the book have inspired me toward further reading.
My main criticism is his writing style- he tends to end every section with a series of provocative questions to which he seems to know at least some of the answers, which he does not give. There is sometimes a sense of incompleteness in his accounts, perhaps not unlike the hurried pace at which he traveled from the Congo through Egypt (skippingly actually), Turkey, Iran, Central Asia, skipping through India and China, then finally to SE Asia. One nice piece was about an Iranian through whose camera lens much of the West saw the Islamic revolution and about some of his exploits to get photos without getting killed. I was especially amazed to read about Rishi Valley in India (Chapter 23). It was one of the few bright spots he visited, and read as if it were lifted out of Aldous Huxley's _Island_ (1961). It makes sense as we learn that Huxley had known Jiddu Krishnamurti, the philosopher whose ideas seemed partly set in motion in this part of India that has successfully followed a non-Western model of development.
His earlier book _Balkan Ghosts_ garnered widespread praise for his prescience of the Balkan Wars. If any of what he foreshadows in this book comes to pass, we'll be in for some quite 'interesting times' indeed.
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1.0 von 5 Sternen I think this book is a classic example of modern imperialism, 2. April 1999
Von Ein Kunde
Rezension bezieht sich auf: The Ends of the Earth: From Togo to Turkmenistan, from Iran to Cambodia, a Journey to the Frontiers of Anarchy (Vintage Departures) (Taschenbuch)
I don't disagree with Kaplan when he is reporting what he actually sees, which I think is well done. However his theories on the reasons for these things are almost always based on some idea of "culture", where this "culture" is completely fixed, doesn't change, and completely determines the actions of all the people in these "cultures". For example, Kaplan almost never seems to pay much attention to recent or medium-term political events or actions in the countries he's dealing with - the only sources are either current news reports or colonial texts from two hundred years before. He also almost never talks about the impressions of the scholars and intellectuals of the countries themselves - his "authoritative" information comes from American analysts or from imperial tracts written during the colonial period. Finally, and in my opinion almost damningly, the impression I had was that almost none of the people he speaks to in these countries ever has a name. So, in the end, Kaplan's images are of faceless, homogenous masses that have no analysts of their own, no politics, no decisions, no independence. All they have is "culture". When someone claims basically that a group of people's behavior is completely determined by their place of origin, we usually describe that as racism. I think that description fits Kaplan fairly well.
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5.0 von 5 Sternen a journey into the heart of the future, 3. Mai 1999
Rezension bezieht sich auf: The Ends of the Earth: From Togo to Turkmenistan, from Iran to Cambodia, a Journey to the Frontiers of Anarchy (Vintage Departures) (Taschenbuch)
As Kaplan writes in Balkan Ghosts "The past is yesterday's present and the future tomorrow's past". Therefore, the events of today's headlines are less significant than the global trends. However, in his unsentimental journey, Kaplan is careful to avoid the pitfalls of endism, producing what is instead an informed, educated and nuanced account of the threats to development in the twenty-first century. Even he admits that it is but one person's account and therefore subject to bias and flaws (which are certainly present), but the very nature of his "unsentimental journey" (a concept which is invaluable to those of us trying to understand the paths which developing societies take), he is enlightening the reader about many parts of the world, and in fact the nature of social transformation itself. By emphasizing the nature of population growth and combining this with an examination of the state and its legitimacy, he goes beyond the traditional modernist paradigm to examine the dark heart of "progress". A great read which sustained and informed me through 3 months in Latin America (an area I wish he would address).
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5.0 von 5 Sternen Pragmatic and objective, 19. Juli 1998
Von Ein Kunde
Rezension bezieht sich auf: The Ends of the Earth: From Togo to Turkmenistan, from Iran to Cambodia, a Journey to the Frontiers of Anarchy (Vintage Departures) (Taschenbuch)
Contrary to the review above,"he doesn't get it,"; Kaplan "gets it" all too well. Repeatedly in this book he cites the burdens of colonialism and the effects of haphardard geography and willingness to arm anyone claiming to be "democractic" or an anticommunist. I've had the opportunity to travel to some of his destinations and his reflections on the smells, the refuse and the human tragedy of mediocrity hits the mark. He unflinching frames failure in both developed and underdeveloped nations as a persistance of tribalism. Writing about places where non-white people dwell isn't always racist or narrowminded. This book is about first-hand experience and impressions; he balances these observations with facts, figures and literature. Kaplan's above being a neo-Richard Burton or Graham Greene; his work is valuable because it's objectivity with a twist of gut reaction so it's not CIA reports or embassey description. His contribution to und! erstanding the "Third World" is excellent as it is rare. Most importantly, the reader is spared the self-serving memoir or reflections of an academic on sabbical.
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5.0 von 5 Sternen a scary view of the future, 5. August 1998
Von Ein Kunde
Rezension bezieht sich auf: The Ends of the Earth: From Togo to Turkmenistan, from Iran to Cambodia, a Journey to the Frontiers of Anarchy (Vintage Departures) (Taschenbuch)
Robert Kaplan takes the reader on a journey to faraway countires most of us will never have the opportunity or desire to visit. This book, like Balkan Ghosts, is filled with gory details of political and ethnic violence. At times I wondered if his hersay stories like the one about members of a street gang in Africa wearing wedding dresses while they killed were actual events or just modern urban myths. I was constantly shocked to read about the extent of enviornmental damage done in the former soviet republics around the Caspian Sea. This book full of mind boggling statistics and engaing anecdotes but lacking in answers, suggestions or hope. This book left me wishing the mainstream press would spend more time on some of the topics covered by Kaplan. I look forward to his next book where this East Coast man takes on my home turf of California. Will he be as devistated by Orange County and the forests of the Pacific Coast as he is about the deforested continents of! Africa and SE Asia? We shall soon find out...
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4.0 von 5 Sternen Don't be fooled into thinking this is a simple travel book.., 9. Juli 1999
Von Ein Kunde
Rezension bezieht sich auf: The Ends of the Earth: From Togo to Turkmenistan, from Iran to Cambodia, a Journey to the Frontiers of Anarchy (Vintage Departures) (Taschenbuch)
It seems aparent that many people look at this book thinking it is a travel book for possible vacationers. Obviousely, for any person with common sense, these are not places you would want to visit. Kaplan focus is more on the darker side of humanity, and what brings us to it. As seen with his foreboding telling of things to come in Balkan Ghosts, he has a gift of predicting serious human conflicts on our planet. But not only that, he has the remarkable ability to search for the most minor details to explain why. Most importantly though, Kaplan makes perfectly clear what many refuse to acknowledge...the human population of this planet is rapidly exceeding natural limits, while we fall behind drastically in ways to solve this problem. I highly recommend this book to anyone who feels that the relatively minor problems that we face on a day to day basis will soon be a pleasent memory if we don't wake up and realize what we are really doing.
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4.0 von 5 Sternen social science travel lit, 2. Dezember 1999
Rezension bezieht sich auf: The Ends of the Earth: From Togo to Turkmenistan, from Iran to Cambodia, a Journey to the Frontiers of Anarchy (Vintage Departures) (Taschenbuch)
Basially, in "The Ends of the Earth", Kaplan employs the same finely-honed writing technique that he used to good effect on the topics of Yugoslavia and North America, respectively, in "Balkan Ghosts" and "Empire Wilderness" -- namely, to combine travel writing with social scientific analysis to craft a perspective on a locale that is both personal and abstract, immediate and general at the same time. This is a wonderful method, which makes his writing much less dry than other "country studies", but also leads to Kaplan's fatal flaw of over-exaggeration and over-generalization. His theses on the third world and its future (the basic topic of "Ends of the Earth") are ground-breaking, original, and probably a little bit too sensationalistic and over-hyped. Nevertheless, it's eye-opening stuff that takes you way beyond the news headlines and guidebooks.
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