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Summary

The world is changing in ways most of us find incomprehensible. Terrorism spills out of the Middle East into Europe. Russia, Iran, Saudi Arabia, China, and Japan vie to see who can be most aggressive. Financial breakdown in Asia and Europe guts growth, challenging hard-won political stability.

Yet, for the Americans, these changes are fantastic. Alone among the world's powers, only the United States is geographically wealthy, demographically robust, and energy secure. That last piece - American energy security - is rapidly emerging as the most critical piece of the global picture.

The American shale revolution does more than sever the largest of the remaining ties that bind America's fate to the wider world. It re-industrializes the United States, accelerates the global order's breakdown, and triggers a series of wide ranging military conflicts that will shape the next two decades. The common theme? Just as the global economy tips into chaos, just as global energy becomes dangerous, just as the world really needs the Americans to be engaged, the United States will be...absent.

In 2014's The Accidental Superpower, geopolitical strategist Peter Zeihan made the case that geographic, demographic, and energy trends were unravelling the global system. Zeihan takes the story a step further in The Absent Superpower, mapping out the threats and opportunities as the world descends into disorder.

©2016 Peter Zeihan (P)2017 Peter Zeihan

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Brilliant, insightful book

I found this to be a brilliant book which, explains the state of the world, explains the fundamental importance of oil in the world, and sets out the writer's compelling case for fundamental change in the world's order.

I had not realised that the origin of free trade was the USA's need for security post WW2. I hadn't realised the effect of shale oil on the USA's oil security. I hadn't realised that the USA could cut itself off from trade with the world without doing itself that much damage.

I strongly recommend this book for revealing the true state of the world, and the major changes which might occur in the near future. The narration is excellent too.

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  • Anonymous
  • 27-02-18

Only worthwhile if you're curious about updates

I really enjoyed The Accidental Superpower (TAS) but this sequel read like it was mostly written on airplanes between Peter's "real work". It has value but gets deep into technical aspects of shale production and repeats much of what the first book said. The remainder of much of the book is a basically fictional gameplay of world conflict between powers, something akin to an intel report. Nukes are a glaring omission in this analysis.

I am still glad I listened to it though. I've listened to this book only a couple months after it was released so it's a more up to date take on the major trends Peter outlined in his first book, taking Trump into account. He also, ever so slightly, backs off some of the more questionable assertions of his first book (do rivers really impact transit THAT much in modern times? Is US GDP really the same as post-WWII?) so it's good to see his methodology tighten a little.

There's not really a cohesive thesis in this book so it meanders and gets a bit long winded at times. If you're very interested in an update from TAS or you're interested in the technical aspects of shale production give it a listen. If not, you're probably ok to give it a pass.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • David
  • 03-07-18

Both Books Are About The Same - This is the latest

Repeat Review: The author makes a compelling case for our strong future but his pessimism for the rest of the world is way too gloomy. Demographically the potential conflict areas are simply getting too old for armed conflict. Probably. More likely those places will simply stagnate like Japan but way poorer and way more decrepit.

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  • TheTotalConcept
  • 10-06-18

Recommended. You'll learn something.

So I do geopolitical analysis for the Department of Defense. I have a vast amount of resources at my disposal and I definitely learned a lot from this book. I do have one small concern. He bases a Monumental amount on the fact that she'll will create such a tremendous change in the economy. I get that, that's the premise of the book.
However when he does discuss many of the conflicts that he believes will ensue as a result of that there are many dynamics that could take place that can totally change the analysis. I do feel that the United States interest in the corporate environment will be way more powerful than what he may think. He does not discuss the unilateral actions of the United States to secure commercial interest overseas whatsoever. I do find that a moderate concern.

additionally a book about the future and conflicts that does not discuss technology whatsoever is concerning. The effect of quantum, artificial intelligence, machine learning, and all of its resulting effects will have a tremendous impact on the way the world interacts with each other. I do believe totally not discussing this is a major mistake but I do understand how difficult it is to talk about that so I don't blame him as much. But I see the way that technology can create asymmetrical advantages in conflicts and in energy.

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  • Jim W
  • 27-02-18

Excellent Book

Excellent book about how energy and geography will effect future International Events. While I don’t agree with all his predictions he makes a plausible case for all his predictions.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 03-12-17

Awesome, must read book

If you are interested in understanding the real generators of geopolitical actions around the globe, follow the money and in the case of our world, money follows the resources needed for it to operate and that is energy.

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  • Michael W. Dini
  • 29-11-17

Happy to listen to what Zeihan has to say ...

Any additional comments?

I find Peter's take on the world very informed and quite interesting. I'd be happy to pay him once every 1-2 years to hear him tell us what he got right, wrong, or other. He makes *many* predictions that will be easy to verify. This book is not a redo of his first effort and certainly worth your time.

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  • Ron_G
  • 23-11-17

The unvarnished truth about shale and how it will shape the future.

This is perhaps the most throughly researched and readable book on the subject that I’ve found. Though I didn’t always like what Peter had to say, I can’t find fault with his logic or research. If you really want the unvarnished truth about shale and how it will shape the worlds future read (listen) to this book.