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The Accidental Superpower

The Next Generation of American Preeminence and the Coming Global Disorder
Narrated by: Peter Zeihan
Length: 12 hrs and 19 mins
Categories: Non-fiction, Politics
4.5 out of 5 stars (36 ratings)

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Summary

In the best-selling tradition of The World Is Flat and The Next 100 Years, The Accidental Superpower will be a much discussed, contrarian, and eye-opening assessment of American power.

In The Accidental Superpower, international strategist Peter Zeihan examines how geography, combined with demography and energy independence, will pave the way for one of the great turning points in history, and one in which America reasserts its global dominance.

No other country has a greater network of internal waterways, a greater command of deepwater navigation, or a firmer hold on industrialization technologies than America. Zeihan argues that the future is undoubtedly bright for America, the only country with enough young adults to fill the capital-generating void that will be left behind by 2030. The Accidental Superpower also explores shale oil and its surprising key role in America's move toward energy independence and how it will shape (and is already shaping) American life for the next 50 years.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your My Library section along with the audio.

©2014 Peter Zeihan (P)2014 Hachette Audio

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Where do I begin...?

Full disclosure... Although this is not a positive review, I must admit that I kind of enjoyed this book. I might even give it another listen. Why you ask? You see, I answer, I really enjoy a bit of speculation about the future, and this book is full of it. I actually believe that had the author just been brave enough to be slightly more creative, I think this book could have stood out as a great work of fiction, with the author drawing on real-world events to spawn fully fictitious scenarios about a different world. I mean, I would probably still have been annoyed with the quite grossly jingoistic pro-American bias displayed throughout, but for someone who reads a lot of American Sci-Fi it wouldn't have been too hard to look past.

That being said, Zeihan does not present this as a work of fiction, and I therefore have to review it as a book trying to represent fact. And as such, it is not good. Possibly, with a slightly less ambitious scope, it could have produced some substance, but instead of focusing on what the author knows, he keeps diving into every goddamn region of the World, dissecting what first looks like every level of policy, geography, religious tension and whatnot, but which then turns out to be a bunch of selective "facts" to prove his pretty basic point. And what is that? Well... [insert country name] isn't America, so [insert country name] sucks. Or, in the case of America, where he concludes the opposite, that actually, America has all the attributes of America, and that's why it's so supercalifragalistic.

It really is that simple... And it kind of ruins it for me when I know the ending of every chapter already at the start. Within five minutes of listening I could tell clearly that this author was mainly just interested in reaching his foregone conclusion, and you know what... it get's boring. I'm not sure if he really believes in what is being said throughout the book, but it sure would have been great to see at least a sliver of humility, if not about his country, then at least about his ability to predict the future. I've read up a bit on the guy after starting on this book and it seems as if he's not exactly got a record of 20/20 vision into the future. I am sure that some of the immense amount of predictions he has made in this book will turn out to be true-ish, but statistically that's almost inevitable, given how many predictions he makes. But mate, this is not how predicting the future works... The past is not the future... Trends change all the time. Circumstances change all the time in unforeseeable ways. And dude, consider, just every once in a while, the human factor or the unpredictable impact of technology on society.

That being said, maybe my critique is actually missing the point. Thinking about it, I must admit a certain doubt as to whether this book was ever meant as a serious attempt at predicting the future. It works as propaganda, but I actually don't think that's it either. I think more than anything, this is just Zeihan's bid to become another one of the many tiresome figureheads for American patriotism disguised as academia that keep popping up semi-regularly. Just looking for another angle from which the American public can squint hard enough to be able to see America, even in this time of unquestionable decline, as that paragon of unassailable virtue and power that all Americans deep-down know it is. And I guess that was kind of fun for me. To see the way the so-called "liberal" American falls prey to the same flaw that gnaws at every declining empire, that unwillingness to wake up and see how the world is moving away from them. It's not just American "conservatives" that do it - it's just that liberals know how to dress up their self-delusions in a nice dress.

So... with that in mind I guess I'll review it as a study on the American psyche in the 21st century, and instead give it three stars. Entertaining but ultimately not the way the author intended, and at times insulting, it at least kept me listening. Good job.

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Thought provoking

Highly interesting, intelligent and nonconformist view on the geopolitical and economic developments ahead of us. Well worth listening to!

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  • Soudant
  • 23-03-15

DDD: Demographics Determine Destiny

This is an important book that covers the world quickly with a variety of hard conclusions that should keep leaders up at night. The winner, in the author's view, is the United States but it will not be easy and certainly not pretty. In it he argues quite persuasively, and evidence suggests accurately, that America will quietly withdraw from its military and many other global engagements in the coming years. The U.S. refusal to get involved by sending military or arms to Ukraine, mid-east, Nigeria is part of emerging national policy of withdrawal.

These changes may be just the beginning if the US quietly pulls back its' military from arenas far away from our shores. Is there a compelling reason to remain in Germany, Japan and South Korea; after all these are large self-sufficient countries that have not had to bear the cost of an expensive military. Significantly today the US is almost energy independent and has little to no need for Gulf or Venezuelan oil. Is pulling back troops and diverting resources to social programs not on the top of the liberal/democrat wish list? On the other hand vocal conservatives want to return to Fortress America while putting an end to deficit spending. Welcome to 1930s.

The book relies heavily on demographics. Europe, China, Russia and other parts of the world are aging quickly yet face huge outlays to support their older population. Russia, in Zeihan's view, will simply fade (but perhaps not without a fight, to insignificance as it becomes older, sicker and less able to defend its vast borders. The Arabs on the other hand have a large and growing restless youth population with few internal resources to provide for a fulfilling life. Even worse, without substantial imports the Arab countries (and others) can not feed themselves because there is a lack of good soil, rainfall and efficient distribution.

The book covers the geography, political environment and demographics of several major countries and generally their prospects are dimming; particularly those countries which are aging quickly. Other countries, in his view will have difficulties maintaining cohesion. Among that list, to my surprise, is Canada whose provinces are already at odds with each other over distribution of resource and wealth.

Mr. Zeihan is not bashful about his dramatic and usually unpleasant conclusions. e.g.; Europe will come unglued over debt and finances, an old Japan will lose its remaining dynamism, China’s western areas will pull apart the rest of the country and Alberta Canada could try to leave Canada and become a 51st State. Although, in his view, the U.S. will prevail I get the sense it will be more like the one eyed man in the land of the blind and not the robust future we hope for. He acknowledges, but does not dwell, coming water and climate change issues. Perhaps that will be his next book. Should the current U.S. western drought continue and cause massive crop failures and should the 2010 Russian crop collapse repeat simultaneously many people in the world will not have enough food to live because their geography will not support the large populations that have emerged in the past several decades.

Finally, I “read" this book through Audible where Peter Zeihan is his own narrator. He is as good as the Hollywood trained professional voices so if Geopolitics does not work out for him then he has an alternative career reading books.

14 of 14 people found this review helpful

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  • DaWoolf
  • 11-01-15

Drifting towards isolationism


“The Accidental Superpower” (Superpower) is a surprisingly interesting and powerful analysis about the geopolitical state of the world. The author, Peter Zeihan, uses regional histories, geographic topographies, demographic trends, and economic data to make predictions about the conditions of specific countries between 2015 and 2030. The big winners are Mexico and the United States. The big losers are Russia and China. However, its Zeihan’s culmination of the data that makes his hypotheses so compelling.

Zeihan, who also expertly reads the book, does not stray far from the data when making predictions about the world’s future. “Superpower” opens with the author discussing his love and obsession with maps. Zeihan suggest that a county’s financial and military success can be strongly correlated to its native topography. The author posits that the United States is the supreme superpower due to its numerous internal rivers that result in the cheap transport of goods, large costal oceans that provide a natural defensive border from hostile nations, and fertile farmlands that can feed the masses. No other country or superpower comes close to having the topographical advantages inherent to the United States.

Although Zeihan predicts the United States will continue its dominant superpower status for the foreseeable future, there will be bumps along the way as the country moves toward a more isolationist political policy. The shift toward isolationism is in part a result of achieving energy independence through increased petroleum production due to the Shale revolution. Simply put, the United States will have minimum incentive to protect oceanic trading corridors when energy independence is achieved. This sets the occasion for global disorder through regional conflicts and wars as the United States loses interest in policing water corridors across the world.

Readers of nonfiction and geopolitics will very much enjoy “Superpower”. I provided a very small taste of what this powerful and interesting book has to offer readers.

13 of 14 people found this review helpful

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  • Rachel Howard
  • 19-12-18

Facinating if a bit sensationalized

Overall, I really enjoyed Peter's geopolitical insight; I learned a LOT and his writing and narration are enjoyable and captivating. I found his more bolder predictions to be a bit sensationalized and I frowned with skepticism but whether they become true or not they are facinating thought exercises. Great read, I'd recommend for anyone with an interest in geopolitics.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Nick Nichols
  • 13-03-19

Very educational

I was very please with this book. I’m a fairly frequent user of audio books and especially of this subject matter. It lays out the future in an easy to follow logical way. One of my favorite books that I have purchased through Audible.

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  • Brett
  • 16-02-19

Fascinating

I've watched Mr. Zeihan on YouTube which led me to listen to his book. Absolutely captivating and insightful. if you like geopolitics, try this book.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Czipka
  • 12-02-19

invest in America

Great story of the future that I couldn't put down. Thought provoking content that is based on history and facts.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • C. Foster
  • 31-01-19

Should be mandatory

This book should be mandatory for every high school, in every country. Very well organized and concise.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Jonthan
  • 15-01-19

Fascinating & Foundational

Some of the most compelling and well laid out arguments I've heard for the coming decades. The intricate discussion of how geography affects regional and global politics has given more understanding and context for world history and present geopolitics than any other course or book I've ever read - perhaps moreso than all of them combined.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Steven
  • 15-01-19

Well worth a listen and entertaining too!

I got into Peter Zeihan's work watching his presentations on YouTube. (His tie and shirt combinations are always entertaining!) This led me to finally buy his audiobook to hear his more in depth predictions. I enjoyed the Peter's detailed overview that spans several countries around the globe. I also enjoy how he uses the past and present histories and trends to predict the future. Lastly I like how he adds a pinch of humor to his future forecasting. Overall a very entertaining listen. I will be buying his next audio book!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 14-01-19

So accurate it’s spooky.

Almost surreal to be watching these predictions prove true nearly every time. How this author isn’t dominating every talk show, newscast, and other media is beyond me.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful