Review of “The End of the World is Just the Beginning” by Peter Zeihan
Many knowledgable reviews of this book have been written, and it started a firestorm of debate about the impacts of globalization, and its demise. That is the premise to all 475 pages. It is stated in the Introduction and repeated at least once on almost every subsequent page. The problem is: the author never explains why America would suddenly stop supporting an international convention it helped create. It is treated as an axiom, a given assumption from which all kinds of predictions can be made. There isn’t the slightest attempt to explain, much less justify, this fundamental premise. Because of this glaring deficiency, the scenario described in detail for many countries and industries is no more than an alternate history of a world that hasn’t appeared yet, like if the Axis powers had won World War II.
The details are culled from Zeihan’s experience as an international consultant, and he has plenty of them. They are reasonable, given the axiom of unilateral American withdrawal from the international scene. The strengths and weaknesses of various nations are interesting and will, of course, contribute to the future economic development of those economies. So, the book is worth reading, as a summary of the history and current state of various economic sectors (e.g. mining, petroleum, agriculture), and it is worth having around as a reference, a partial explanation of global trends. No doubt, many of his predictions will come true because they are based on facts, even if not supported with a bibliography.
I have another complaint, however; there are no references, and the footnotes consist of often witty comments rather than details not given in the text. There isn’t even a list of supporting sources. Nothing. I guess we’re supposed to trust the author, as an expert. Nevertheless, if taken in a humorous light (a perspective apparent in the author’s comments), like a conversation on the front porch with a beer in your hand (maybe a rum and coke), it is entertaining.
I enjoyed reading it, but I’m taking his predictions with a grain of salt.