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The Return of History and the End of Dreams


Robert Kagan (View Bio)
Hardcover: Knopf, 2008.

The Return of History and the End of Dreams

Hopes for a new peaceful international order after the end of the Cold War have been dashed by sobering realities: Great powers are once again competing for honor and influence. Nation-states remain as strong as ever, as do the old, explosive forces of ambitious nationalism. The world remains "unipolar," but international competition among the United States, Russia, China, Europe, Japan, India, and Iran raise new threats of regional conflict. Communism is dead, but a new contest between western liberalism and the great eastern autocracies of Russia and China has reinjected ideology into geopolitics. Finally, radical Islamists are waging a violent struggle against the modern secular cultures and powers that, in their view, have dominated, penetrated, and polluted their Islamic world. The grand expectation that after the Cold War the world would enter an era of international geopolitical convergence has proven wrong.

For the past few years, the liberal world has been internally divided and distracted by issues both profound and petty. Now, in The Return of History and the End of Dreams, Robert Kagan masterfully poses the most important questions facing the liberal democratic countries, challenging them to choose whether they want to shape history or let others shape it for them.

An Economist magazine "Best Book of the Year"

"Scholar and Washington Post columnist Kagan (author of DANGEROUS NATION, co-founder of neoconservative think-tank Project for the New American Century) delivers a brief but stirring treatise on post-Cold War politics, warning that the world’s nations have again plunged into the dangers of geo-politics: 'the old competition between liberalism and autocracy' is back. Writing with authority and clear-eyed passion, Kagan explains how the end of the Cold War (the fabled 'End of History') failed to prime the international demand for democracy, as the democratic world had hoped, yielding instead emerging autocracies in Russia, China and elsewhere, as well as the increasingly dangerous and virulent ideology of militant Islam. In dense but thoughtful prose, Kagan scrutinizes the patterns of history, and predicts a grim political future: 'International order does not rest on ideas and institutions alone. It is shaped by configurations of power.' Kagan's well-considered message will resonate with history buffs and current-affairs junkies looking for the latest in neocon thought. " — Publishers Weekly

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