Saturday, 17 May 2008

Book Review: The Post-American World (2008), by Fareed Zakaria

Fareed Zakaria provides a terrific companion and follow-up to Thomas Friedman's The World is Flat (2005). Picking up on the theme of the forthcoming fully globalized world, Zakaria briskly examines the past and future economic rise of China and India, which by now is well worn territory for those paying attention, but also highlights the differences between the two emerging economies.

While it's easy to lump China and India as two similar economic breakthough stories, Zakaria does an excellent job of bringing out the nuanced differences between the economic drivers in the two countries, and also provides a sense of perspective regarding how much further they still have to go to come close to matching the economic power of the United States.

Zakaria also examines in depth the relationship between economic power and political structure in China, India, and the United States, and draws excellent parallels with the rise and decline of the British empire.

The book's strength, however, and the true value of Zakaria's contribution, lies in his examination of America's role in the post-American world. Perhaps because Zakaria himself is an immigrant, having arrived in the United States in 1982, he has the global perspective that is so often lacking in discussing America's role in a fully globalized world. Here he draws an incisive, rational and powerful picture of where and how America should focus its attention when the world achieves multi-polarity. The level of maturity that Zakaria presents in this text is a few orders of magnitude above most other political and economic observers.

This book is well written and easy to read, and an important contribution towards anticipating and understanding the near future.

Published in hardcover by W.W. Norton & Company.

259 pages plus Notes and Index.

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