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Search tags: Robert-D-Kaplan
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text 2015-02-03 19:38
Nowości - luty 2015

 

Długie, mroźne wieczory zdecydowanie sprzyjają lekturze. Czemu zatem nie sięgnąć po jedną z lutowych nowości? W tym miesiącu zdecydowanie warto sięgnąć po reportaże (wydawnictwo Czarne w dalszym ciągu nas pod tym względem rozpieszcza), choć i miłośnicy historii oraz literatury amerykańskiej XX wieku również będą zadowoleni. Fani architektury również powinni wybrać się w tym miesiącu do księgarni, gdzie znajdą aż dwie architektoniczne nowości od wydawnictwa Karakter.

 

Zapraszam do mojego autorskiego przeglądu.

 

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text 2013-11-03 12:25
Między nami
Bukareszt. Kurz i krew - Małgorzata Rejmer

Nie wiem czy natrafiłam w mediach na jakąkolwiek krytyczną uwagę dotyczącą tej książki, co było nieco niepokojące ponieważ to sytuacja niezdrowa. Porównanie może niezbyt trafne ale to samo zdarzyło się w przypadku Wyznaję Cabre i Ostatniego rozdania Myśliwskiego. Lepiej gdy wypowiadają się obie strony - wtedy wiadomo, że będzie można podyskutować. Jednak nie bacząc na czerwone światełko mrugające w mojej głowie, ochoczo zabrałam się do lektury. Malutka to książeczka ale niestety bardzo nierówna. Niektóre rozdziały nie pozwalają na chwilę oddechu, inne z kolei nużą i męczą. W rezultacie troszkę wody upłynęło zanim z lekką ulgą odłożyłam książkę na półkę.

Dwie refleksje nasunęły mi się po lekturze. Po pierwsze ciekawie było poczytać coś z polskiej perspektywy o kraju, który nigdy nie leżał w kręgu moich zainteresowań, a podobnie jak Polska doświadczył niejednego. Bo Rumunia to nie tylko Nicolae Ceaușescu i jego szalone pomysły z zakresu polityki prorodzinnej i architektury. To także interesujący ludzie, bogata historia i piękne krajobrazy. Małgorzata Rejmer stara się zaprezentować czytelnikowi każdy z tych aspektów. Przez całą lekturę towarzyszą nam m.in. watahy bezpańskich psów, które są przygnębiającą pozostałością po czasach gdy pan i władca Ceaușescu wymyślił i częściowo zmaterializował Dom Ludu. Ta wielowarstwowość i spojrzenie z kilku perspektyw wciąga i fascynuje.

 

 

 

Druga uwaga: Bukareszt. Krew i kurz za mało uwagi poświęca samemu miastu. No chyba, że przyjmiemy założenie, że Bukareszt to Dom Ludu. Bo tego przykładu architektonicznego ego jest w książce aż nadto. Rozumiem, że autorka buduje na tej podstawie rumuńską martyrologię, której czasami jest aż za dużo. I to mi przeszkadzało - za dużo martyrologii a za mało chłodnego oglądu. Literatura dotycząca epoki komunizmu przyzwyczaiła nas do brutalnych opisów traktowania szarych obywateli i więźniów reżimu. Małgorzata Rejmer nie unika tego tematu. Mówi o Rumunach: fataliści.  Rozmawia z nimi o dobrych i złych czasach.

Ta książka to ciekawe spojrzenie na historię narodu uwikłanego w historię. I warto po nią sięgnąć. Jednak nie zaspokoiła mojej ciekawości. Kiedyś udało się to Robertowi D. Kaplanowi w Bałkańskich upiorach. Jeśli chcecie poznać mniej martyrologiczne podejście bardzo zachęcam.

 

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review 2013-09-26 00:00
Monsoon: The Indian Ocean and the Future of American Power
Monsoon: The Indian Ocean and the Future of American Power - Robert D. Kaplan 4/5; probably only Robert D. Kaplan could have done it-- circle the Indian Ocean and use it as the hinge point for an exploration of both history and futurology. will the monsoon ocean be flooded with three Indian flat-tops, 2 Chinese, as well as cruisers from Australia, Japan, South Korea, and the U.S.? Kaplan suggests one vision like this, and although at one point you're sort of wishing he had did the Pico Iyer thing and simply gone to Toronto (where Indian and Chinese immigrant communities mix and don't), nevertheless at least there's some structural logic and logical structure to the over-arching argument that the Indian Ocean will be the fulcrum on which the world turns in 2050.

there's a good amount of material here. Burma/Myanmar at time of writing still under a military junta, might be the source of a trade highway/rail link with landlocked SW China. Sri Lanka with the just-ending Sinhalese/Tamil conflict presents the not totally unique geopolitical situation of all major world powers supporting one side (the examples from history also resulted in fairly quick resolutions). and then Kenya / Zanzibar isn't totally out of the picture, although Kaplan misses the opportunity to speculate if Australian technology and military resources will have major impact on the evolving eastern end. maybe it's just a level of complexity too far.

in any case, not to miss the forest for the trees, Kaplan--who has military and corporate experience and who has written quite an impressive output of strikingly readable geopolitical nonfiction, clearly hits the mark. he's experienced; he's linguistically capable; he's prolific. how can you go wrong? 4/5
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review 2013-08-31 00:00
An Empire Wilderness: Travels into America's Future
An Empire Wilderness: Travels into America's Future - Robert D. Kaplan [★★★★☆-4/5]

If all of our human behavior could be explained through simple logic, probably everything would be tremendously easier. Mass transit, for one, would be a lot better, and with logical, rational food-distribution, we'd have feeding troughs running into inner cities. Fresh vegetables! Plenty of fruits! Less red meat!

Unfortunately, we're quite the illogical species. It means more Big Macs and more Whoppers. It means the disorderly / anarchistic / world-leading USA.

The story of how I got this book might be an illustration of the limits of human logic. I was at the used bookstore--the expensive one-- and considering putting down $5 for two or three different possibilities (vaguely remember one being a famous military sci fi work; another being something guaranteed to be fair--not poor and not good, but at $5 for a book, who's to say...). Then I saw AN EMPIRE WILDERNESS. For some reason, most likely because I've heavily discussed [a:Victor Davis Hanson|15262|Victor Davis Hanson|http://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/authors/1227566672p2/15262.jpg], I kept confusing the author. The little data storage point in my head said-- keen Republican, great writer, definite value. The bookstore wanted over $9 for this book that new retails for $14. Ouch. But the counter-thought kept intruding: hey, how much is just food for a day. How much versus the learning, the life-time ownership, the guaranteed (thanks to goodreads and all this review writing which allows for better scientific bookselection) Good Read.

So I bought in. It wasn't until I finished, that I realized Kaplan is the guy who fought in wars, killed 10 people, laid with 1000 teenage Thai hookers. His jaded, jaded voice is the super-annuated and super-knowledgeable analysis of things beyond explanation. He embedded with mujahideen in SOLDIERS OF GOD. He predicted THE COMING ANARCHY. He visited THE IMPERIAL GRUNTS. He went to THE ENDS OF THE EARTH. All 4s or 5s.

Maybe I was a trifle generous with COMING ANARCHY? And perhaps the argument could be made this is a 3.7 rather than a 4.0? But goodreads.com doesn't permit decimal or half-star ratings... and 3.7 probably rounds up to 4.0 rather than 3.5 in any case. Maybe I'd push for 3.8 in any case. In fact, why not, call it a 3.9

There are heaps of matters to discuss about Kaplan, most complicatedly being his very slight centre-right political views, his compliments about business, his elitism. Yet, in contrast to the definite-right stance I was expecting, there were moments of sympathy for hard-knocked Latinos and some of Kaplan's vision of a patchwork American West don't seem entirely negative.

plusses: in truth, it's hard to write about 'continental us;'-- most stories are in san francisco or new york; Kaplan is very skilled and very fluent;

minuses: touch of militarism? elitism?

overall, I'm still a little miffed at myself that I laid out 9 sheets for this, but, then, there's no way i'm ever selling it from my bookshelf. and the really great writers who produce half a dozen great non-fiction books are few few few and far between.

other bloggish notes: K-pop "Crayon Pop" is hot.
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review 2013-07-29 00:00
Soldiers of God: With Islamic Warriors in Afghanistan and Pakistan
Soldiers of God: With Islamic Warriors in Afghanistan and Pakistan - Robert D. Kaplan in the end, what separates a greater writer from the merely good is some unknown recipe of personality, experience, life choices, plain analytical talent, and luck. there are not a few hundred journalists working in kabul or central asia, but many of them are just fed stories by local stringers, never leave the hotel bar, or just plain 'don't get it.' you can't read an iraq or afghan memoir without meeting dozens of these peripheral characters, people off on their quixotic idealistic campaigns or just trying to scratch out a living as a correspondent in some forgotten and dusty capital.

Robert D. Kaplan just "has it." what is "it?" well... Clara Bow was "it" during the 1920s. but when we look at her photo 90 years later... we're just puzzled, of course. not a bad looking girl-- but how did she enrapture a nation?

so Kaplan somehow manages to elicit drama out of dust clouds and high mountains. who else embedded with a mujahideen gang? maybe Kaplan did lay with a thousand women, maybe he did kill 10 people in his life (though never with his bare hands). the end result is of some superannuated worldweary old man deigning to talk to his innocent, inexperienced readership. somebody had to do it.
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