The Ends of the Earth: A Journey at the Dawn of the Twenty-First Century

Robert D. Kaplan, Author Random House (NY) $27.5 (0p) ISBN 978-0-679-43148-0
After his recent travels through troubled southeastern Europe, Kaplan (Balkan Ghosts: A Journey Through History) has taken on an even more ambitious itinerary-some of the most inhospitable regions of the globe, both geographically and politically. Starting in West Africa, where he finds that border regions are so porous as to make the concept of countries ""largely meaningless,'' he braves the Egyptian desert, then advances through Turkey, Azerbaijan, Iran, sprawling Turkestan, China and Pakistan and on through Southeast Asia. He advises at the outset that his book ""folds international studies into a travelogue.'' Readers looking for an easy ride had better fasten their seat belts, for the author treats us to all sorts of speculation on the condition of humankind as the century is about to turn, along with generous dollops of history. Intermingled with graphic descriptions of exotic locales are highly personal ruminations, one of the most interesting of which is that in some of these lands, ""the village came to the city and . . . vanquished it'' by overwhelming modern urban middle-class values. A challenging and engrossing read. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 01/29/1996
Release date: 02/01/1996
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