The Return of Marco Polo's World (Hardcover)

War, Strategy, and American Interests in the Twenty-first Century

By Robert D. Kaplan

Random House, 9780812996791, 304pp.

Publication Date: March 6, 2018

List Price: 28.00*
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Description

A bracing assessment of U.S. foreign policy and world disorder over the past two decades, anchored by a major new Pentagon-commissioned essay—from the renowned geopolitical analyst and bestselling author of The Revenge of Geography and The Coming Anarchy.

“Elegant and humane . . . [a] prophecy from an observer with a depressingly accurate record of predictions.”—Bret Stephens, The New York Times Book Review

In the late thirteenth century, Marco Polo began a decades-long trek from Venice to China. The strength of that Silk Road—the trade route between Europe and Asia—was a foundation of Kublai Khan’s sprawling empire. Now, in the early twenty-first century, the Chinese regime has proposed a land-and-maritime Silk Road that duplicates exactly the route Marco Polo traveled.

In the major lead essay, recently released by the Pentagon’s Office of Net Assessment, Robert D. Kaplan lays out a blueprint of the world’s changing power politics that recalls the late thirteenth century. As Europe fractures from changes in culture and migration, Eurasia coheres into a single conflict system. China is constructing a land bridge to Europe. Iran and India are trying to link the oil fields of Central Asia to the Indian Ocean. America’s ability to influence the power balance in Eurasia is declining.

This is Kaplan’s first collection of essays since his classic The Coming Anarchy was published in 2000. Drawing on decades of firsthand experience as a foreign correspondent and military embed for The Atlantic, as well as encounters with preeminent realist thinkers, Kaplan outlines the timeless principles that should shape America’s role in a turbulent world: a respect for the limits of Western-style democracy; a delineation between American interests and American values; an awareness of the psychological toll of warfare; a projection of power via a strong navy; and more.

From Kaplan’s immediate thoughts on President Trump (“On Foreign Policy, Donald Trump Is No Realist,” 2016) to a frank examination of what will happen in the event of war with North Korea (“When North Korea Falls,” 2006), The Return of Marco Polo’s World is a vigorous and honest reckoning with the difficult choices the United States will face in the years ahead.

“These essays constitute a truly pathbreaking, brilliant synthesis and analysis of geographic, political, technological, and economic trends with far-reaching consequences. The Return of Marco Polo’s World is another work by Robert D. Kaplan that will be regarded as a classic.”—General David Petraeus (U.S. Army, Ret.)


About the Author

Robert D. Kaplan is the bestselling author of eighteen books on foreign affairs and travel translated into many languages, including The Return of Marco Polo’s World, Earning the Rockies, In Europe’s Shadow, Asia’s Cauldron, The Revenge of Geography, Monsoon, The Coming Anarchy, and Balkan Ghosts. He is a senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security and a senior advisor at Eurasia Group. For three decades he reported on foreign affairs for The Atlantic. He held the national security chair at the United States Naval Academy and was a member of the Pentagon’s Defense Policy Board. He is currently a member of the U.S. Navy’s Executive Panel. Foreign Policy magazine twice named him one of the world’s Top 100 Global Thinkers


Praise For The Return of Marco Polo's World: War, Strategy, and American Interests in the Twenty-first Century

“An eclectic collection of elegant and humane essays . . . Above all there is his fascination with the decisive impact of geography on the calculations, ambitions and illusions of statesmen and societies. . . . [A] prophecy from an observer with a depressingly accurate record of predictions. When it comes to curbing our enthusiasms, Kaplan’s achievement is to throw so much shade with so much verve.”—Bret Stephens, The New York Times Book Review

“Thoughtful, unsettling, but not apocalyptic analyses of world affairs flow steadily off the presses, and this is a superior example. . . . Presented with enough verve and insight to tempt readers to set it aside to reread in a few years.”Kirkus Review (starred review)

“Kaplan is a kind of expeditionary foreign-policy intellectual who does not allow his sympathies to cloud his judgment. . . . It is a sign of how very unusual a journalist Robert Kaplan is that after more than three decades covering civil wars and collapsing states and American interventions he has emerged not only as an eloquent defender of foreign-policy realism but as a grand strategist to whom the Pentagon turns for a tour d’horizon. . . . Whether or not one embraces it, tragic realism offers one lesson that Americans, and above all the idealistically inclined, need to learn, and to re-learn: humility.”The Wall Street Journal
 
“An astute, powerfully stated, and bracing presentation.”Booklist
 
“This volume compiles sixteen major essays on America’s foreign policy from national security commentator Kaplan. . . . An overview of thoughtful, multilayered positions and perspectives evolving through changing circumstances.”Publishers Weekly

“These essays constitute a truly pathbreaking, brilliant synthesis and analysis of geographic, political, technological, and economic trends with far-reaching consequences. The Return of Marco Polo’s World is another work by Robert D. Kaplan that will be regarded as a classic.”—General David Petraeus (U.S. Army, Ret.)

“When it comes to geopolitics and the analysis of world affairs, Robert D. Kaplan is the best in the business. These essays are not only astonishing in their breadth, depth, and range but beautifully crafted and accessible.”—John Bew, professor, the Department of War Studies, King’s College London, and author of Realpolitik: A History and Castlereagh: A Life

“A characteristically thoughtful and provocative collection of essays from Robert D. Kaplan, born of his own Marco Polo–like wanderings and rich grasp of history . . . Elegant and compelling, these prescient pieces are a valuable guide to the endlessly complicated geopolitics of Eurasia, and what it all means for Americans in the decades ahead.”—Ambassador William J. Burns, president, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, and former deputy secretary of state

“Robert D. Kaplan has long been one of the most unrelenting realistic commentators on the rough, mean, conflictual world disorder that has evolved since the Cold War. In these essays he provides a compelling antidote to the facile optimists in the ethnocentric Western intelligentsia. Read it with a stiff drink in hand, but be ready to be excited.”—Richard K. Betts, director, the Saltzman Institute of War and Peace Studies, Columbia University