by Robert D. Kaplan, editor
New York: Random House, 2018. Pp. xiv, 292.
Notes, index. $28.00. ISBN: 0812996798
The Rise of Modern China and America’s Role in the World
Robert Kaplan very much engages with American perspectives, reprinting pieces from American periodicals, although adding an essay written for the Pentagon’s Office of Net Assessment.
There is nothing wrong with this, but the grasp of non-American perspectives and concerns might not be what it should be. The pieces from thinkers – Kissinger, Samuel Huntington, and John Mearsheimer – lack the depth of Vaisse’s treatment of Brzezinski, while that on China’s “New Silk Road” has nothing particularly original to add.
I am uncertain whether it is sensible for writers to publish their occasional pieces as a book. It can work, but also has weaknesses unless these essays are luminous. Moreover, while some of Kaplan’s pieces repay reading, others, such as his 2006 item on North Korea, deserve rewriting rather than simply reprinting as they stand.
Few essays on international relations merit the latter treatment. Nor is it helpful always to search for historical analogies that are banal, as in “Certainly America should reach, but not – like Darius - overreach.”
Note: The Return of Marco Polo’s World is also available in several e-editions.