Peter Zeihan’s new book, The End of the World is Just the Beginning, has hit the NYT Bestseller List. I have read much of the book and skimmed most of the rest. The graphics are informative and the factual content is most valuable. The book could have used some tough editing, but in terms of factual information the book is heads and shoulders above most of its cohorts on the NYT list.
This book has stimulated some thinking, so I am going back to my list of books discussing the topic of “why some nations are rich and some are poor” in order to refresh my memory on the best theories that try to explain the divergent economic outcomes of the world’s nations. In all of his four books, Peter Zeihan has predicted the future of the world’s major nations based upon the factors of geography, demography, political-economic alliances, and global trade protections.
Zeihan does not touch the question of how national average IQ influences national prosperity, but Richard Lynn’s and Tatu Vanhanen’s “IQ and the Wealth of Nations” does a creditable job. In fact, the aforementioned list of books deals with many theses and explanations which are not commonly discussed or recognized in most public debate or media forums. That is why it is so important to read books, lots of books. Emphasize books that are not politically correct.
Of course, the specific books a person reads help to define who that person is and how he thinks. For example, reading Charles Murray’s Human Accomplishment is the equivalent of reading between ten and twenty high quality books when you consider the breadth of cultures, materials, and the historical depth that are covered.
That is the kind of books I prefer personally — books that answer a lot of questions but that also lead to a hundred new questions for each answer provided.
Peter Zeihan’s books go beyond questions such as “Why Did Europe Take Over the World?” and “Why are Europe and the Anglosphere Rich, and Why is Africa so Poor?” Zeihan is talking about the collapse of an entire global order due to a world-wide demographic collapse in industrial countries combined with a slow-motion withdrawal of US government intervention from large areas of the world. The closest well-known phenomenon to this would be the rise and fall of empires.
Zeihan is talking about the simultaneous ascent and descent of multiple empires, nations, and alliances as a result of parallel and coincidental processes that are taking place in all developed and semi-developed nations and “empires” of the existing world. Having written three previous books on a roughly similar theme, he has had some time to develop his ideas. It would have been nice if his latest book had gone under a sharper editor’s knife, but the information content is just as valuable for all of that.