An incisive portrait of the American landscape that shows how geography continues to determine Americau2019s role in the worldu2014from the bestselling author of The Revenge of GeographyxA0and Balkan Ghosts
As a boy, Robert D. Kaplan listened to his truck-driver father tell evocative stories about traveling across America in his youth, travels in which he learned to understand the country literally from the ground up. There was a specific phrase from Kaplanu2019s childhood that captured this perspective: A westward traveler must u201Cearn the Rockiesu201D by drivingu2014not flyingu2014across the flat Midwest and Great Plains.
In Earning the Rockies, Kaplan undertakes his own cross-country journey to recapture an appreciation of American geography often lost in the jet age. Traveling west, in the same direction as the pioneers, Kaplan traverses a rich and varied landscape that remains the primary source of American power. Along the way, he witnesses both prosperity and declineu2014increasingly cosmopolitan cities that thrive on globalization, impoverished towns denuded by the loss of manufacturingu2014and paints a bracingly clear picture of America today.
The history of westward expansion is examined here in a new lightu2014as a story not just of genocide and individualism, but also of communalism and a respect for the limits of a water-starved terrain, a frontier experience that bent our national character toward pragmatism. Kaplan shows how the great midcentury works of geography and geopolitics by Bernard DeVoto, Walter Prescott Webb, and Wallace Stegner are more relevant today than ever before. Concluding his journey at Naval Base San Diego, Kaplan looks out across the Pacific Ocean to the next frontier: China, India, and the emerging nations of Asia. And in the final chapter, he provides a gripping description of an anarchic world and explains why Americau2019s foreign policy response ought to be rooted in its own geographical situation.
In this short, intense meditation on the American landscape, Robert D. Kaplan reminds us of an overlooked source of American strength: the fact that we are a nation, empire, and continent all at once. Earning the Rockies is an urgent reminder of how a nationu2019s geography still foreshadows its future, and how we must reexamine our own landscape in order to confront the challenges that lie before us.
Advance praise for Earning the Rockies
u201CA text both evocative and provocative for readers who like toxA0thinkxA0. . .xA0In his final sections, Kaplan discusses in scholarly but accessible detail the significant role that America has played and must play in this shuddering world.u201Du2014Kirkus Reviews
u201CEarning the RockiesxA0is a brilliant reminder of the impact of Americau2019s geography on its strategy. An essential complement to his previous work on the subject of geostrategy, Kaplanu2019s latest contribution should be required reading.u201Du2014Henry A. Kissinger
u201CRobert D. Kaplan uses Americau2019s unique geography and frontier experience to provide a lens-changing vision of Americau2019s role in the world, one that will capture your imagination. Unflinchingly honest, this refreshing approach shows how ideas from outside Washington, D.C., will balance Americau2019s idealism and pragmatism in dealing with a changed world. A jewel of a book,xA0Earning the RockiesxA0lights the path ahead.u201Du2014General (Ret.) James Mattis
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