4/5; probably only Robert D. Kaplan could have done it-- circle the Indian Ocean and use it as the hinge point for an exploration of both history and futurology. will the monsoon ocean be flooded with three Indian flat-tops, 2 Chinese, as well as cruisers from Australia, Japan, South Korea, and the U.S.? Kaplan suggests one vision like this, and although at one point you're sort of wishing he had did the Pico Iyer thing and simply gone to Toronto (where Indian and Chinese immigrant communities mix and don't), nevertheless at least there's some structural logic and logical structure to the over-arching argument that the Indian Ocean will be the fulcrum on which the world turns in 2050.
there's a good amount of material here. Burma/Myanmar at time of writing still under a military junta, might be the source of a trade highway/rail link with landlocked SW China. Sri Lanka with the just-ending Sinhalese/Tamil conflict presents the not totally unique geopolitical situation of all major world powers supporting one side (the examples from history also resulted in fairly quick resolutions). and then Kenya / Zanzibar isn't totally out of the picture, although Kaplan misses the opportunity to speculate if Australian technology and military resources will have major impact on the evolving eastern end. maybe it's just a level of complexity too far.
in any case, not to miss the forest for the trees, Kaplan--who has military and corporate experience and who has written quite an impressive output of strikingly readable geopolitical nonfiction, clearly hits the mark. he's experienced; he's linguistically capable; he's prolific. how can you go wrong? 4/5