The Post-American World

by Fareed Zakaria

Hardcover, 2009

Status

Available

Publication

W.W Norton & Co., (2009)

Description

Explores how the rapid rise of such nations as China, India, and Brazil is countering America's previous dominance over the global economy, geopolitics, and culture, and shares advice on how the United States can thrive in the face of international changes.

Media reviews

maybe it takes a Bombay-born immigrant like Zakaria, who went from Yale to Harvard (where we were colleagues) and to the top of Newsweek International, to remind this faltering giant of its unique and enduring strengths. America will be in trouble only when China becomes home to tomorrow’s hungry masses yearning to be free — and to make it.

User reviews

LibraryThing member markleon
Fareed Zakaria argues that the "rise of the rest" as he calls the new state of affairs in the world is not something that the United States should fear. He believes that the US will continue to be the only true super-power in the world, but that the world will now become multi-polar.

Zakaria makes good points on the economic influence of the US. Unfortunately for him, his book suffers from bad timing as the current economic problems in the US make fear of globalism stoke even higher.

Zakaria also takes on the political sclerosis of the US, identifying continued partisanship and unwillingness to compromise as making it impossible to accomplish anything even on seemingly simple problems like energy policy. The problem is that he has no prescriptions for resolution.

Zakaria makes his best points when discussing how the US will need to conduct foreign policy in this post-American world. Obviously, the go-it-alone policy of the current administration has been completely discredited. So, Zakaria looks forward to a more realpolitik view again, where we do what is in the best interests of the US, while simultaneously working cooperatively with our allies so that they will see that the power of the US is nothing to fear. For me, the best line of the book was relegated to a footnote where Zakaria noted that foreign policy was best viewed as a matter of gains and losses and not of theology (paraphrase).
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LibraryThing member bruchu
Rise of the Rest

It's truly unfortunate that Fareed Zakaria chose to name his book, "Post American World", because it does not accurately reflect his central thesis which is the "rise of the rest" and not the end of American exceptionalism. I'm sure the provocative title was more sensational than he wanted it to be but that his publisher thought it would attract more "buzz".

In any case, this short book is a terrific survey of 20th century developments specifically leading to the globalization phenomenon that has led to economic miracles occuring in both China and India. I say survey, because Zakaria does not intend the book to be a complete treatise on the subject, but rather to present a concise overview of the major themes and most importantly offer his prognosis for the future.

According to Zakaria, the "post american world" is one where the balance of power has readjusted after the temporary imbalance post cold-war which gave the US sole superpower status for over a decade. In summing up Zakaria's vision of this new relationship he states that "there is now a conversation with the Americans in the room, and one without, the key point being that a conversation now exists with or without the Americans."

Some reviewers have been overly critical of Zakaria for his somewhat apologetic view especially towards China, given its atrocious human rights record, continued oppression of Tibet, complete disregard for the natural environment and exploitation of resources from developing countries. It is true that Zakaria fails to highlight any of these critical issues, however, all of that still does not detract whatsoever from his central argument that China is rapidly rising and will soon out-produce the US in a few decades despite the human costs.

Zakaria's writing style is clear, uncluttered, and straightforward. In my opinion, "Post American World" is one of the more important non-fiction books of the year.
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LibraryThing member bfertig
Sweeping with broad strokes and brilliant yet easy to read prose, Fareed Zakaria clearly establishes himself among the giants of foreign relations, politics, and economics. With this book, Zakaria outlines the 'Rise of the Rest' - that is how the rest of the world has caught up to America in many important ways. This presents both large opportunities and challenges that America must face in the present, in addition to the challenges of terrorism, and foreign and domestic issues. He argues that things are not as dire as they look, in terms of America's world standing in technology, education, and military and political capital, but that the world is shifting, geopolitically, economically, technologically, socially, and that to maintain relevance and learn from global powers and struggles of the past such as the British and Roman Empires and the Cold War, priorities must be set since the USA cannot do everything everywhere all the time, sole global superpower or not.

Whether Democrat or Republican, American or not, this book has an important message of global change which means that no one and no country can rest easy in this day and age of a 'flattened' world with a more level playing field and shifting geopolitical and economic realities. An important and relevant book, even though the hardback came out before the mortgage crisis, global economic meltdown and 2008 American election. Highly worth reading and positively recommended.
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LibraryThing member bezoar44
This cogent discussion of the international political system argues for the U.S. to welcome China, India, and other rising nations to great power status and adopt a foreign policy that is humble, pragmatic, and paranoia-free. Zakaria is not the first to advise this; but his writing is simple, clear, and supported with easily understood examples. It was a delight to read.

Zakaria appears to believe without reservation in free trade and the gross benefits of globalization. He has very little to say about the preferred distribution of wealth within nations, perhaps because he's trying to keep his argument equally persuasive for liberal and conservative Americans. Zakaria is basically sanguine about America's economic prowess, and is more concerned that the U.S. is squandering its global political influence.

One distinct gap in the book is the lack of any discussion of how environmental sustainability fits in. Early on, Zakaria acknowledges that "the most acute problem of plenty is the impact of global growth on natural resources and the environment," but he doesn't discuss how sustainability, as a necessary goal of any modern nation's foreign and domestic policy, should be integrated into the worldview he presents. If achieving sustainability requires policy changes that undermine the flow of goods, capital, or labor (for example, by supporting local food production at the expense of imports), it's not clear how that would affect the rest of Zakaria's analysis. It would have been nice to hear why he's not concerned about this possibility.
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LibraryThing member bodhisattva
Almost exactly 400 years ago, Galileo looked through his telescope at the moons of Jupiter revolving around that planet, and realized that Earth could not possibly be at the center of the universe. He was visited by the Inquisition 2 years later for his trouble. Fareed Zakaria is now making the same observation about the role of Washington and the U.S. in world affairs: international politics and economics no longer revolves around America. The Inquisition awaits.

Zakaria discusses not the "demise" of the U.S., but rather the "rise of everyone else". His global-centered perspective is crucial for an understanding of 21st century international relations, politics, and economics.
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LibraryThing member ctorstens
Saw a conservative email going around which showed Obama with this book, and how it proved he was out to destroy America... Had to read it.
LibraryThing member Clif
The book title suggests that perhaps it's predicting the demise of America. But instead the book is generally optimistic about the future and predicts that other nations will rise in importance relative to the U.S. However, America will continue to be a global player on the international scene.

This book was published in May 2008 prior to the recent meltdown in the financial world. I found myself speculating about what the author would say differently if the book were written after the current flury of bailouts and the collapse of Lehman Brothers. On page 205 the author says, "New derivatives based on underlying instruments like stock or interst-rate payment are increasingly important ..." He goes on to say that the London financial exchanges sell more derivatives than the New York exchanges with the implication that this is an indication of the strength of the London markets. In think the author would want to word things a little differently today if he had a chance. But still it is my guess that the author would view current conditions as part of expected cycles in the world's economy.

The book covers some of the same ground covered by Friedman's The World Is Flat. Both books spend considerable time discussing the rise of China and India on the world scene. Zakaria's writing is perhaps a bit more subduded and business like than Friedman's book (and perhaps less interesting to read as a result).

I found the parts of the book that are critical of the United States to be the most interesting parts. The following is a quotation from the book I found interesting: "More people will graduate in the United States in 2006 with sports-exercise degrees than electrical-engineering degrees," says General Electric's CEO, Jeffrey Immelt. "So if we want to be the massage capital of the world, we're well on our way."

The book maintains that the American educational sytem is better than many think. Worldwide testing always shows the students from Singapore with top scores in math and science. So Americans might conclude that our schools should be more like theirs. It is interesting to see from the following quotation from the book what the educational officials in Singapore think of the American educational system: "Tharman Shanmugaratnam, until recently Singapore's minister of education, explains the difference between his country's system and America's. "We both have meritocracies," Shanmugaratnam says. "Yours is a talent meritocracy, ours is an exam meritocracy. We know how to train people to take exams. You know how to use people's talents to the fullest. Both are important, but there are some parts of the intellect that we are not able to test well - like creativity, curiosity, a sense of adventure, ambition. Most of all, America has a culture of learning that challenges conventional wisdom, even if it means challenging authority. These are the areas where Singapore must learn from America.""

Read in December, 2008
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LibraryThing member yeremenko
One of the best, balanced looks at America's and its place in the world.

Zakaria explains, with exhaustive factual examples and data, the changes in the world's economy. I question one reviewer on this site that says there are few facts, the book at times has too many facts. In one example he shows Americas position atop the education ladder despite the dire reports in the media. He does this by showing facts and the data. He does not present the misleading, out of context facts most of the media love.

Besides current details about China, India and 'the rise of the rest" Zakaria provides historical explanations to support his statements. I am still amazed anyone could say this book does not support its declarations.

Much of the book is not what Americans, especially fear-mongering righties want to read. American needs to cooperate and be the hub of world activity, not a dictator.

It is also prescient that in 2007 he worried the democratic party is losing Bill Clinton's connection to commerce and economic sensibilities.

This book shoots down the middle. It rightfully shows how damaging the "unipolar" bullying of Bush and Cheney has been but also shows how wrong leftist views of America's decline are off base.
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LibraryThing member AMson
I'll refrain from going into a point by point analysis of this book. I think anyone interested in Fareed Zakaria or his writings will know what they're getting into.

Nonetheless, Zakaria does a very commendable job of laying out how this globalized world we now inhabit has and will shape foreign policy, economics, social, and other diplomatic relationships across the globe.
The U.S. will be the most affected by this landscape because countries like China, Russia, Brazil, and Ind...more I'll refrain from going into a point by point analysis of this book. I think anyone interested in Fareed Zakaria or his writings will know what they're getting into.

Nonetheless, Zakaria does a very commendable job of laying out how this globalized world we now inhabit has and will shape foreign policy, economics, social, and other diplomatic relationships across the globe.
The U.S. will be the most affected by this landscape because countries like China, Russia, Brazil, and India (among many others) are taking advantage of globalization, modernity, industrialization, and political failings to become strong players on a global/ international stage.

The real insight in this book comes from Zakaria's intimate knowledge of how the rest of the world perceives the U.S- and what options and strategies are most likely to keep the U.S. a legitimate power in a world where the "rest" are strengthening and becoming more and more relevant.
He writes about India and China in a way that unveils a great appeal for their culture, governments (sometimes), religions, and political philosophies. Some of his anecdotes, stats, and insights actually make the U.S. seem more stagnant, shortsighted, weak, quarrelsome, and at times backwards that I already perceived us to be.

I'd recommend this book to anyone interested in U.S foreign policy, globalized politics, and general foreign relations. It's a great telling of how the next decade will play out, and the pitfalls that await if caution, pragmatism, and multilateralism donn't become the pillars of U.S. foreign policy.
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LibraryThing member fidchivers
A fascinating, quick read which argues that America must ready itself for no longer being the dominant player in world affairs - not because of American decline, but due to the inevitable rise of the rest fo the world. He argues persuasively that not only will this happen, but it is already well on its way to being a reality. To me, it seems an obvious argument, but many do not seem to think so. Zakaria brings in the facts to buttress his observations and instincts, and puts it all together in a coherent, well reasoned presentation.

The one drawback is also a strenght. He does not delve as deeply into many matters as would like, but this is so the whole argument can proceed forward mroe quickly and gracefully. The book is aimed more at the casual (but intelligent) reader, rather than the world scholar.
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LibraryThing member bferster
A surprisingly uplifting and hopeful book about the end of the American Empire. Zakaria presents lost of data to refute some "common sense" notions about things, although he seems to take a heavy enconomic slant to things.
LibraryThing member pescatello
Amazing book. A must read for anyone who cares about the world
LibraryThing member ccatwood
Very little data used to substantiate the declarative statements promulgated here.
LibraryThing member mojomomma
This was a great book and in its way, very comforting and uplifting. The author argues that Americans have spooked themselves into a posture of fear about the rest of the world. Actually, our world has rarely been more peaceful and prosperous than it is now. Why the fear? Media and politics share the blame. While our politics is failing us, economically the US is diverse and strong. Zakaria says we need to rethink our place in the world order. While we are still the most powerful nation, we must improve our image overseas and share some of the power with our allies to insure world peace. We should not see rising powers India and China as threats to our power, but work to accomodate them into the world power structure. A major theme is that America is not sinking, the developing world is rising.… (more)
LibraryThing member fpagan
The undoubtedly insightful Zakaria may be the victim of very unlucky timing in writing this book just before the financial panic of 2008. Yes, the "rise of the rest" will be important for shaping the world order of the next few decades. But, now that we know *all* the dire effects of George W Shrubbish's reign of error, can we still hope that an absolute decline of the US will not also loom large?… (more)
LibraryThing member Asata
Excellent, incisive insight into current state of the world. Maybe not correct in all elements, but worth reading.
LibraryThing member Darrol
Excellent book. Patriotic in just the right way, confident in America's potential to be a positive force, even as other countries thrive and emerge.
LibraryThing member GShuk
Great book with a positive view of a Post-American world. Insightful history of how policy and decisions of other supper powers affected their rise and fall. He allowed me to see the US from the developing worlds point of view and how the developing world sees each other.
LibraryThing member slothman
Americans are used to having their country lead the world; we got in early on the Industrial Revolution and did well by it. Now India and China, each with a billion-plus population, are starting to catch up. Zakaria examines the current state of affairs, how we all got there, and where it's going, and recommends ways for America to lead in a world where no nation dominates.… (more)
LibraryThing member LaraRose
Fascinating and clear overview of the international system that we face today and the one we may face tomorrow
LibraryThing member dickmanikowski
It's embarrassing to admit that, yes, I'm a book philanderer. I start reading a book, a really, meaty, gripping book . . . and then another book comes along. I tell myself I'm just going to give it a quick look. Nothing serious; just a cup of coffee. But then the new book entrances me with its wiles. So there I am, juggling two books pretty successfully. And you know what happens then.
That's what happened with The Post-American World: Release 2.0. It was filled with incredible insights about the changed world modern Americans live in and their/our reluctance to accept the fact that international politics and economics no longs revolve around the USA. We're still the world's largest economy, and no other country is likely to successfully challenge our military might in the foreseeable future.
But other centers of influence are rising and exerting their own gravitational effects on their neighbors. And unlike the Cold War, there's no fundamental evil ideology that we can point at and over which we can claim the moral high ground.
Great book. And I got probably 90% of the way through it before admitting that I'd never get back to it.
Mea culpa. Mea culpa. Mea MAXIMA culpa!
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LibraryThing member raschneid
Didn't read all of it, but it was a good introduction to the impact of globalization on world politics.
LibraryThing member nmele
Zakaria's book is an easy read but it is am important look at the state of the world and the options open for the U.S. It should be required reading for all politicians, most especially his last chapter which offers six very well conceived guidelines for policy makers.
LibraryThing member Schmerguls
This is a 2008 book, and the only reason I do not give it five stars is that so much has happened since it was written that it is not as curent as I wish it would be. The author says much which makes good sense and shows that many of the loud voices now speaking on foreign affairs do not make such. His stricturres on the George W. Bush administratioon resonate with good sense. The book is clearly written and its points are well-reasoned.… (more)
LibraryThing member lindap69
the rise of the rest of the world economies and the need for the US to take the lead in the causes for global warming

Language

Original language

English

Barcode

10345
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