Am höchsten bewertete kritische Rezension
A very worthy effort, but...
am 27. April 2000
Don't buy this book thinking it's merely a travelogue of some of the world's poorer and lesser-known nations. (In fact, if that's all you're looking for, then I highly recommend Pico Iyer's Falling off the Map instead.) No, it's a cleverly disguised sociopolitical analysis, but unlike most such works, it's refreshing in that Kaplan freely admits his observations are subjective and possibly wrong. But that's exactly the problem. Despite physically travelling to all these destinations, Kaplan seems to spend precious little time actually TALKING with real citizenry in most places. Instead he whisks from Western hotels in the capital to meetings with various pols and officials before scuttling off to the next country, sometimes just days later. And therein lies the failure of an otherwise worthy effort from an outstanding writer: the superficiality of most of his experiences in these places. Give him a few days in a country, coupled with a bit of background reading and perhaps a few conversations with experts at home, and Kaplan feels justified in making sweeping generalizations about where these nations have been, and where they are going. Had Kaplan just stopped country-hopping and stayed in one region for a longer time, I think his conclusions would have been much improved. A side note: having travelled to a number of these countries (as one of the "backpackers" that Kaplan scornfully derides throughout the book), his constant dramatizing of the mundane grows tedious after a while...I think the only person surprised that the third world can be dirty, smelly, and unpredictable is Kaplan himself.