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The Post-American World


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Fareed Zakaria is the editor of Newsweek International and writes a weekly column on international affairs. His previous book was the New York Times bestseller The Future of Freedom. He lives in New York City.


When a book proclaims that it is not about the decline of America but "the rise of everyone else," readers might expect another diatribe about our dismal post-9/11 world. They are in for a pleasant surprise as Newsweek editor and popular pundit Zakaria (The Future of Freedom) delivers a stimulating, largely optimistic forecast of where the 21st century is heading. We are living in a peaceful era, he maintains; world violence peaked around 1990 and has plummeted to a record low. Burgeoning prosperity has spread to the developing world, raising standards of living in Brazil, India, China and Indonesia. Twenty years ago China discarded Soviet economics but not its politics, leading to a wildly effective, top-down, scorched-earth boom. Its political antithesis, India, also prospers while remaining a chaotic, inefficient democracy, as Indian elected officials are (generally) loathe to use the brutally efficient tactics that are the staple of Chinese governance. Paradoxically, India's greatest asset is its relative stability in the region; its officials take an unruly population for granted, while dissent produces paranoia in Chinese leaders. Zakaria predicts that despite its record of recent blunders at home and abroad, America will stay strong, buoyed by a stellar educational system and the influx of young immigrants, who give the U.S. a more youthful demographic than Europe and much of Asia whose workers support an increasing population of unproductive elderly. A lucid, thought-provoking appraisal of world affairs, this book will engage readers on both sides of the political spectrum. (May) Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.

According to Newsweek International editor Zakaria, the weakened global economic and political position of the United States results not from the waning of its own powers but from the rapid rise of many other global players. The optimistic tone of his previous book, The Future of Freedom: Illiberal Democracy at Home and Abroad, permeates this work. After 500 years of world dominance and following the decline of great states in other parts of the world, the Western powers are seeing countries such as China and India emerge as new and formidable rivals. Zakaria is sharply critical of the current U.S. presidential administration, citing its dysfunctional political stalemate and foreign and military policies that hinder adaptation to the current realities. He argues that it is incumbent upon the Western powers to adapt if they want to thrive instead of trying to reverse these realities, and he remains optimistic that they can change, as they have historically shown themselves able to do so. Zakaria's arguments are accessible to general readers, and his supporting data are not overwhelming to digest. Most libraries will want this. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 1/08.]--Marcia L. Sprules, Council on Foreign Relations Lib., New York Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.

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