An Empire Wilderness: Travels Into America's Future

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Vintage Books, 1999 - Business & Economics - 393 pages
13 Reviews
"Full of surprises and unusual revelations . . . an informed and disturbing portrait of the new American badlands."--Chicago Tribune

"[Kaplan is] tireless, curious, and smart. . . . I cannot imagine anyone will concoct a more convincing scenario for the American future." --Thurston Clarke,   The New York Times

With the same prescience and eye for telling detail that distinguished his bestselling Balkan Ghosts, Robert Kaplan now explores his native country, the United States of America. His starting point: the conviction that America is a country not in decline but in transition, slowly but inexorably shedding its identity as a monolithic nation-state and assuming a radically new one.
        Everywhere Kaplan travels--from St. Louis, Missouri, to Portland, Oregon, from the forty-ninth parallel to the banks of the Rio Grande--he finds an America ever more fragmented along lines of race, class, education, and geography. An America whose wealthy communities become wealthier and more fortress-like as they become more closely linked to the world's business capitals than to the desolate ghettoes next door. An America where the political boundaries between the states--and between the U.S. and Canada and Mexico--are becoming increasingly blurred, betokening a vast open zone for trade, commerce, and cultural interaction, the nexus of tomorrow's transnational world. Never nostalgic or falsely optimistic, bracingly unafraid of change and its consequences, Kaplan paints a startling portrait of post-Cold War America--a great nation entering the final, most uncertain phase of its history. Here is travel writing with the force of prophecy.

"Lively . . . Kaplan has a sharp eye for social truth, and his encounters with a chorus of eloquent citizens of the West keeps the narrative humming." --Outside

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Review: An Empire Wilderness: Travels into America's Future

User Review  - Pat Rolston - Goodreads

I really enjoy good travel writing and have read most all things by Paul Theroux. Where Theroux writes from a perspective that captures the range of human behaviors from the comic to the absurd to the ... Read full review

Review: An Empire Wilderness: Travels into America's Future

User Review  - Lance Littlejohn - Goodreads

Although written in 1998, the themes of poverty, racial segregation and the polarization along economic and racial lines are playing out before our eyes. It is depressing to see what is happening in ... Read full review

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About the author (1999)

Robert D. Kaplan is chief geopolitical analyst for Stratfor, a private global intelligence firm, and the author of fourteen books on foreign affairs and travel translated into many languages, including The Revenge of Geography: What the Map Tells Us About Coming Conflicts and the Battle Against Fate; Monsoon: The Indian Ocean and the Future of American Power; Balkan Ghosts: A Journey Through History; and Warrior Politics: Why Leadership Demands a Pagan Ethos. He has been a foreign correspondent for The Atlantic for more than a quarter-century. In 2011 and 2012, Foreign Policy magazine named Kaplan among the world's “Top 100 Global Thinkers.”

From 2009 to 2011, he served under Secretary of Defense Robert Gates as a member of the Defense Policy Board. Since 2008, he has been a senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security in Washington. From 2006 to 2008, he was the Class of 1960 Distinguished Visiting Professor in National Security at the U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis.

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