Monsoon: The Indian Ocean and the Future of American Power

Robert D. Kaplan, Random, $28 (384p) ISBN 978-1-4000-6746-6
Kaplan (Balkan Ghosts), correspondent for the Atlantic Monthly, inculcates a paradigm shift when he suggests that the site of 21st-century geopolitical significance will be the Indian Ocean, not the northern Atlantic. The major powers of the future—India and China—fringe the ocean along with a host of other players—"the emerging and volatile democracies of East Africa," Indonesia, Oman, "anarchic" Somalia, placid Singapore, and Burma. These sea trade routes have historically borne commerce, colonialism, and faith, and Kaplan examines the nexuses of power, goods, and ideologies making their way across those waters today. Even if the writing on culture—especially India's—can devolve into cliché, the book's political and economic focus and forecasts are smart and brim with aperçus on the intersection of power, politics, and resource consumption (especially water), and give full weight to the impact of colonialism. An ambitious and prescient study equally at ease analyzing the work of the Indian poet Rabindranath Tagore, the finer points of the Indian state of Gujarat's flirtation with fascism, and the economic impact of the Asian tsunami on Indonesia. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 07/05/2010
Release date: 10/01/2010
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