Author of Balkan Ghosts, Robert D. Kaplan now travels from West Africa to Southeast Asia to report on a world of disintegrating nation-states, warring nationalities, metastasizing populations, and dwindling resources. He emerges with a gritty tour de force of travel writing and political journalism. Whether he is walking through a shantytown in the Ivory Coast or a death camp in Cambodia, talking with refugees, border guards, or Iranian revolutionaries, Kaplan travels under the most arduous conditions and purveys the most startling truths. Intimate and intrepid, erudite and visceral, The Ends of the Earth is an unflinching look at the places and peoples that will make tomorrow's headlines—and the history of the next millennium.
“Kaplan is an American master of...travel writing from hell...Pertinent and compelling.”—New York Times Book Review
“An impressive work. Most travel books seem trivial beside it.”—Washington Post Book World
In The Ends of the Earth, Robert D. Kaplan travels from the devastated countries of West Africa and the fundamentalist enclaves of Egypt and Iran to the culturally explosive lands of Central Asia, India, Pakistan, and Southeast Asia with hardly more than a notebook and a backpack. Kaplan's intention was to investigate firsthand the effect of population explosion and environmental degradation in these countries and to see how the various cultures he encountered responded to them. But as he traveled, talking to gun smugglers and government ministers, warlords and shantytown dwellers, he discovered that the real problem, in places as far afield as Sierra Leone and western China, was the reemergence of longstanding cultural rivalries and the dissolution of national boundaries as regions redefine themselves along ethnic and historic lines. Kaplan's ground-level experiences allow him to avoid grandiose generalizations about the clash of civilizations and to replace them with intimate portraits of the men and women he encounters: Rafighdoost, Khomeini's fiercely loyal chauffeur; Ali Abdel Razag, keeper of the Aswan High Dam; and Ayshe Tanrikulu, a squatter on Golden Mountain, a shantytown on the outskirts of Ankara, who hopes that her sons will one day be doctors or engineers. It is in the squalor of daily existence and in people's fears, frustrations, and dreams that Kaplan looks for the key to a country's future. The Ends of the Earth offers an intimate portrait of the devastated parts of the world, whose cultural disasters - like those in Bosnia, Chechnya, and Rwanda today - will dominate our attention and remake the world of tomorrow.
Robert D. Kaplan is a correspondent for "The Atlantic Monthly and the bestselling author of seven previous books on travel and foreign affairs, translated into many languages, including Balkan Ghosts, The Arabists, The Ends of the Earth, and The Coming Anarchy. He is a senior fellow at the New America Foundation. He lives with his wife and son in western Massachusetts.