Some Excerpts From The Revenge Of Geography From Robert D. Kaplan

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In the third chapter of The Revenge Of Geography, Kaplan discussed historians and William McNeil, who wrote The Rise Of The West: A History Of The Human Community in 1963, was a prominent figure.There are several things that he states that shows the importance of geography in how history plays out and wanted to share a couple of excerpts:

From page 42 in which Kaplan writes:

“History, according to McNeil, is a study in fluidity, in which things only seem secure and neatly geographically ordered: more crucially we are always in a state of smaller transitions and cultural interchanges.”

Kaplan writes at the bottom of page 42:

“While opposing Spengler, Toynbee, and later the ‘Clash of Civilizations’ theory of Harvard professor Samuel Huntingdon, in emphasizing the interaction of civilizations rather than their separateness, McNeil’s The Rise Of The West, nevertheless, engages the reader with the whole notion of civilizations formed in large measure by geography, that rise from precisely definable landscapes, achieve their own identity, and then interact with other civilizations, in turn forming new hybrids. In this way, history is woven. McNeil metaphorically describes the process:

Civilization may be likened to mountain ranges, rising through aeons of geologic time, only to have the forces of erosion slowly but ineluctably nibble them down to the level of their surroundings. Within the far shorter time span of human history, civilizations, too, are liable to erosion as the special constellation of circumstances which provoked their rise passes away, while neighboring peoples lift themselves to new cultural heights by borrowing from or otherwise reacting to the civilized achievement.”

The basic premise of what Kaplan brings forward with these excerpts gives me a theme in which to base the rest of the book and his premise about geography and its relation to history. I will keep an eye out as I read to see

Some Thoughts About Worry From Anonymous

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“One nice thing about a college education is that it enables us to worry more intelligently about things all over the world.”

“Every morning has two handles. We can take hold of it by the handle of anxiety, or by the handle of faith.”

“A harried housewife in Nebraska sighed, ‘I have so many problems that if something terrible happened to me it would be at least two weeks before I could get around to worrying about it.’”

“The average husband worries about what his wife spends and what the government spends. The difference is he’s not afraid to criticize the government.”

“Schedule all your worrying for a specific half hour about the middle of the day—then take a nap during that period.”

Currently Analytically Rereading: The Revenge Of Geography By Robert D. Kaplan

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Back in October of 2012, I read this book for the first time and I decided to reread it again so I could share more with our readers about this important topic. This book brings a perspective to readers that geography plays more than an part in the evolving global scene and that globalism is important but not all triumphant.

A couple of excerpts so far discussing policy and how nations should think about their policies. From page 26:

“For wise policymakers, while aware of their nation’s limitations, know that the art of statesmanship is about working as close to the edge as possible, without stepping over the brink.”

This brings to mind, what nation’s are doing this now in order to reach their goals? Which countries have overstepped and misread their policies? Which countries are attempting to position themselves to move closer to the so-called edge?

Kaplan shows us that leaders, when they deal with realism, understand that it is more of an art than a science. He uses this example in the next excerpt:

“Modern realism was perhaps most comprehensively summed up in 1948 by Hans J. Morgenthau in Politics Among Nations: The Struggle For Power And Peace. Let me pause awhile with this book, the effort of a German refugee who taught at the University of Chicago, in order to set the stage for my larger discussion about geography: for realism is crucial to a proper appreciation of the map, and in fact leads us directly to it.”

In rereading this, I plan to get a better understanding of why nations act the way they do and what part geography really plays in this.


Some Thoughts About Thinking From Anonymous

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“There is a lingering suspicion on the part of some that the trouble with this country is that too many people are trying to think without having had any previous experience.”

“Serious thinking is the kind of thinking to which most people resort only when they’re broke, in jail, in the hospital, or in some other disaster.”

“Some who have a habit of thinking out loud make others appreciate how golden silence really is.”

“The trouble with most people is that every time they think, they think only of themselves.”

“A wise man reflects before he speaks; a fool speaks and then reflects on what he has uttered.”

Some Thoughts About The Future From Anonymous

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“The enemy you make today may be the only one who can help you twenty-five years from now.”

“No matter how much a person dreads the future, he usually wants to be around to see it.”

“Most of us spend a lot of time dreaming of the future, never realizing that a little of it arrives every day.”

“It is doubtful that you will ever carve out much of a future trying to cut too many corners.”

“A kindness done  today is the surest way to a brighter tomorrow.”

Finished Reading: Emerson: The Mind On Fire By Robert D. Richardson Jr.

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As I have stated earlier, This book is one of the best biographies and memoirs that I have ever read. As I was getting near the end of the book, I started thinking back on what a complex man that Emerson was. Richardson did a tremendous job in examining Emerson’s relationships with close friends, men, women and even acquaintances. Emerson was a man that was hard to pin down in understanding his emotions when he was placed in a difficult position.

On page 545, I ran across this paragraph which puts things in perspective in analyzing Emerson.

“The impression that there were two Emersons never quite goes away. James Russell Lowell discerned a dreamy seer living alongside a practical Yankee. Bliss Perry thought the two sides were physically reflected in the two quite different sides of Emerson’s face. Alfred Kazin is nearer the mark when he speaks of a private self concealed behind the public Emerson, a lower-case person who continually made discoveries that the upper-case Emerson could use. Emerson’s own sense of this crops out in his talk about his daemon and his attribution of certain home truths to ‘Guy’ or ‘Osman’. By the late 1850′s a third and new layer of complexity emerged in Emersons’s life. He was fast becoming an institution—his own lengthened shadow—and this growing reputation now preceded both the public and the private Emerson wherever he went.”

This paragraph made me consider: did Emerson really have a public side and a private side? As I think back on what I read, I realize that I believe that he did. Richardson laid it out wonderfully in how Emerson and his relationships at home and through his correspondence were totally in character with that private side and not wanting to give too much of himself unless he felt protected.

As Emerson became older, his public side became more uninhibited, in my opinion, in how he handled issues such as abolition, the Civil War, and his views on religion. He was more outspoken and not as guarded as his private side in dealing with female friends for example. As I think on this book somemore, I will add some other thoughts.

Some Thoughts From Anonymous About Experience

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“Education is what you get from reading the small print in a contract. Experience is what you get from not reading it.”

“Experience is about the cheapest thing a fellow can get if he’s smart enough to get it secondhand.”

“Experience surely teaches that there’s a small but important difference between keeping your chin up and sticking your neck out.”

“If experience is the best teacher, how is it that some husbands will think they’re the boss of the family?”

“Experience is a form of knowledge acquired in only two ways—by doing and by being done.”