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The Ends of the Earth: From Togo to Turkmenistan, from Iran to Cambodia, a Journey to the Frontiers of Anarchy

The Ends of the Earth: A Journey to the Frontiers of Anarchy - Robert D. Kaplan ☆☆☆☆☆--Robert D. Kaplan's 1996 ENDS OF THE EARTH is his best work, a true "tour de force" as he backpacks, budget airlines and jeeps his ways from Tehran to Kazakhstan to Thailand. the scope and reach of his travels--Iran itself being worth the price of admission--earns him full accolades as he dares to go where nobody else does and reaches into host culture as well as his vast readings in order to deliver the precise balance of ethnic, class, cultural, and national conflict that characterizes each unstable, even anarchic region. what other American in 1996 was obsessed with the Uzbeks? it was a time of Amazon.com and other dot-com fortunes. who else in the immediate aftermath of the collapse of the Soviet Union foresaw ethnic and tribal rivalries suddenly springing to life again after the ruthless but dampening force of Soviet communism had withered away? only Kaplan, and history, as they said, was written...

Kaplan's skill lies in his ear for words, as well as the vast pre-reading which informs his work. reading his book is like traveling to Samarkand or Urumqi itself, where the various ethnic tribes and national irrendentist movements lay bare to the professional ethnologist and political thinker. Kaplan, who eventually became probably the very best of the embedded journalists in the second Iraq war, vividly characterizes the souks and streets of central Asia--as well as the simmering tensions underlying an ostensibly peaceful scene. Dzungar, Turcomen or Chiang-Mai regionalist--each becomes in turn the subject of a well-informed analysis in flowery, analytical prose.

a Central Asia grand tour in a book, and increasingly important as Central Asia itself becomes the pivot point of our anarchic world.