cover image The Future Is Asian: Commerce, Conflict and Culture in the 21st Century

The Future Is Asian: Commerce, Conflict and Culture in the 21st Century

Parag Khanna. Simon & Schuster, $29.95 (448p) ISBN 978-1-5011-9626-3

Asia is vast, bustling and rapidly becoming an integrated, world-dominating region, according to this sprawling geo-economic study. Khanna (How to Run the World), a managing partner at the strategic advisory firm FutureMap, surveys the stretch of the planet from the Mediterranean to Japan, viewing it as a coherent region comprising half the world’s economy and 60% of its population. He delves into the area’s booming economies, rising standards of living, soaring trade, and prodigious international investments and infrastructure projects that are tying together Arab oil fields, Chinese and Southeast Asian factories, Indian software firms, Russian farmers, and Himalayan hydroelectric plants in an enormous economic web. Meanwhile, he contends, Asia is starting to eclipse Europe and, especially, a United States retreating into protectionism and xenophobia as the world’s principal market, supply chain, and consumer tastemaker. Khanna’s assertion of a common thread of “Asianness” connecting a continent with countries as disparate as Israel, Iran, Mongolia, and Australia sometimes feels strained, but he usefully highlights some limited commonalities, especially a growing popular preference for competent technocracy over contentious American-style democracy. There’s not much new, but Khanna’s wealth of statistics, deep knowledge, and lucid prose make for a stimulating overview of the rising colossus. (Feb.)