The Loom of Time: Between Empire and Anarchy, from the Mediterranean to China (Hardcover)
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A stunning exploration of the Greater Middle East, where lasting stability has often seemed just out of reach but may hold the key to the shifting world order of the twenty-first century
“Continuing Robert D. Kaplan’s work as the premier American scholar of geopolitics . . . a book that everyone who wants to understand the real forces that decide war and peace should read.”—John Gray, author of The New Leviathans: Thoughts After Liberalism
The Greater Middle East, which Robert D. Kaplan defines as the vast region between the Mediterranean and China, encompassing much of the Arab world, parts of northern Africa, and Asia, existed for millennia as the crossroads of empire: Macedonian, Roman, Persian, Mongol, Ottoman, British, Soviet, American. But with the dissolution of empires in the twentieth century, postcolonial states have endeavored to maintain stability in the face of power struggles between factions, leadership vacuums, and the arbitrary borders drawn by exiting imperial rulers with little regard for geography or political groups on the ground. In the Loom of Time, Kaplan explores this broad, fraught space through reporting and travel writing to reveal deeper truths about the impacts of history on the present and how the requirements of stability over anarchy are often in conflict with the ideals of democratic governance.
In The Loom of Time, Kaplan makes the case for realism as an approach to the Greater Middle East. Just as Western attempts at democracy promotion across the Middle East have failed, a new form of economic imperialism is emerging today as China's ambitions fall squarely within the region as the key link between Europe and East Asia. As in the past, the Greater Middle East will be a register of future great power struggles across the globe. And like in the past, thousands of years of imperial rule will continue to cast a long shadow on politics as it is practiced today.
To piece together the history of this remarkable place and what it suggests for the future, Kaplan weaves together classic texts, immersive travel writing, and a great variety of voices from every country that all compel the reader to look closely at the realities on the ground and to prioritize these facts over ideals on paper. The Loom of Time is a challenging, clear-eyed book that promises to reframe our vision of the global twenty-first century.
About the Author
Robert D. Kaplan is the bestselling author of twenty-two books on foreign affairs and travel translated into many languages, including Adriatic, The Good American, The Revenge of Geography, Asia's Cauldron, Monsoon, The Coming Anarchy, and Balkan Ghosts. He holds the Robert Strausz-Hupé Chair in Geopolitics at the Foreign Policy Research Institute. For three decades he reported on foreign affairs for The Atlantic. He was a member of the Pentagon's Defense Policy Board and the Chief of Naval Operations Executive Panel. Foreign Policy twice named him one of the world's Top 100 Global Thinkers.
“A lively and provocative new study explores the powerful forces influencing the region in a disorderly, multipolar world.”—Financial Times
“In this captivating examination of how geography, history, and culture have coalesced to shape political order in the Greater Middle East, . . . Robert D. Kaplan has once again shown his mastery.”—Vali Nasr, Majid Khadduri Professor of Middle East Studies and International Affairs and author of The Shia Revival
“The Loom of Time is Robert D. Kaplan’s latest, characteristically magisterial book, and . . . holds the key to his enduring importance.”—UnHerd
“Ambitious, learned, sweeping, and thought provoking, Kaplan’s book is a fascinating story of a decadeslong journey to understand the Middle East’s nuances, and it is richly rewarding.”—Jon Alterman, Center for Strategic and International Studies, director, Middle East Program
“With many Americans longing to leave a region of ‘endless wars’ in the rear-view mirror, Kaplan’strenchant observations remind us that it will remain a fundamental U.S. concern for years to come.”—Eric S. Edelman, former U.S. ambassador to Turkey and former undersecretary of defense for policy
“Luminously written, . . .the book brims with perceptive, vivid insights. . . . A masterful account.”—Rajan Menon, author of The Conceit of Humanitarian Intervention
“This lucid and penetrating bundle of insight on the Greater Middle East . . . couldn’t be more timely.”—Robert W. Merry, author of President McKinley
“No one captures the complexities and contradictions of this region like Robert Kaplan. The Loom of Time weaves together history, biography, and sharp reporting to tell a story of a region still in search of itself.”—Ray Takeyh, author of The Last Shah
“Robert Kaplan’s latest sweeping interpretation of human history draws on a half century of travel across strategic chunks of Europe, Africa, and Asia to try to make sense of our troubled times. . . . Kaplan, once again, is provocative. His conclusions in The Loom of Time, once again, are sure to spark deep debate.”—Robin Wright, author of Rock the Casbah
“The Loom of Time is a book that everyone who wants to understand the real forces that decide war and peace should read. Written in a lucid, engaging prose, this is a book that experts will profit from reading and non-specialist readers won't be able to put down.”—John Gray, author of The New Leviathans: Thoughts After Liberalism
“Another tour de force . . . As always, the author offers much food for thought about a variety of geopolitical issues. Little encouraging news but brilliantly delivered.”—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“Some may criticize Kaplan’s conservative outlook and grand pronouncements, but he offers much provocative food for thought.”—Publishers Weekly
“The future, argues Kaplan, will resemble the past. As the age of the Westphalian nation-state wanes, a likely eventuality, given current trends, older patterns of regional influence will reemerge. . . .”—Booklist