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


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