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'Brilliant, bold and beautifully told ... A profound piece of political thinking' Ben Judah, author of This Is London In this original and timely book, Bruno Maçães argues that the best word for the emerging global order is 'Eurasian', and shows why we need to begin thinking on a super-continental scale. While China and Russia have been quicker to recognise the increasi 'Brilliant, bold and beautifully told ... A profound piece of political thinking' Ben Judah, author of This Is London In this original and timely book, Bruno Maçães argues that the best word for the emerging global order is 'Eurasian', and shows why we need to begin thinking on a super-continental scale. While China and Russia have been quicker to recognise the increasing strategic significance of Eurasia, even Europeans are realizing that their political project is intimately linked to the rest of the supercontinent - and as Maçães shows, they will be stronger for it. Weaving together history, diplomacy and vivid reports from his six-month overland journey across Eurasia from Baku to Samarkand, Vladivostock to Beijing, Maçães provides a fascinating portrait of this shifting geopolitical landscape. As he demonstrates, we can already see the coming Eurasianism in China's bold infrastructure project reopening the historic Silk Road, in the success of cities like Hong Kong and Singapore, in Turkey's increasing global role and in the fact that, revealingly, the United States is redefining its place as between Europe and Asia. An insightful and clarifying book for our turbulent times, The Dawn of Eurasia argues that the artificial separation of the world's largest island cannot hold, and the sooner we realise it, the better.


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'Brilliant, bold and beautifully told ... A profound piece of political thinking' Ben Judah, author of This Is London In this original and timely book, Bruno Maçães argues that the best word for the emerging global order is 'Eurasian', and shows why we need to begin thinking on a super-continental scale. While China and Russia have been quicker to recognise the increasi 'Brilliant, bold and beautifully told ... A profound piece of political thinking' Ben Judah, author of This Is London In this original and timely book, Bruno Maçães argues that the best word for the emerging global order is 'Eurasian', and shows why we need to begin thinking on a super-continental scale. While China and Russia have been quicker to recognise the increasing strategic significance of Eurasia, even Europeans are realizing that their political project is intimately linked to the rest of the supercontinent - and as Maçães shows, they will be stronger for it. Weaving together history, diplomacy and vivid reports from his six-month overland journey across Eurasia from Baku to Samarkand, Vladivostock to Beijing, Maçães provides a fascinating portrait of this shifting geopolitical landscape. As he demonstrates, we can already see the coming Eurasianism in China's bold infrastructure project reopening the historic Silk Road, in the success of cities like Hong Kong and Singapore, in Turkey's increasing global role and in the fact that, revealingly, the United States is redefining its place as between Europe and Asia. An insightful and clarifying book for our turbulent times, The Dawn of Eurasia argues that the artificial separation of the world's largest island cannot hold, and the sooner we realise it, the better.

30 review for The Dawn of Eurasia: On the Trail of the New World Order

  1. 4 out of 5

    Ben Westhoff

    I was introduced to The Dawn of Eurasia through Tyler Cowen's blog, and this book in particular has changed my life, opening up my understanding of (and interest in) geopolitics, in a way that The New York Times and The Economist has never done. The author is a former cabinet member of the Portuguese government, and knows what's actually happening behind the scenes in governments all over the world, what, say, Russia's actions towards Turkey, or China, or Ukraine really mean. There's lots about I was introduced to The Dawn of Eurasia through Tyler Cowen's blog, and this book in particular has changed my life, opening up my understanding of (and interest in) geopolitics, in a way that The New York Times and The Economist has never done. The author is a former cabinet member of the Portuguese government, and knows what's actually happening behind the scenes in governments all over the world, what, say, Russia's actions towards Turkey, or China, or Ukraine really mean. There's lots about China, Europe, India, and Central Asia, but the most interesting stuff (and, really, the bulk of the book) is about Russia. I'd long thought of Russia as a fallen power, but The Dawn of Eurasia shows just how central the country will be in determining the new world order. You don't have to be a policy wonk to appreciate this book, which makes me want to travel the world, learn about distant cultures, and soak up life.

  2. 5 out of 5

    TJS

    The author, a former Portuguese diplomat, political science PhD and think-tank habitué, travels to remote and sometimes dangerous places east of Poland and west of China, parts of the world one doesn't think much about. His travel descriptions and encounters with people are remarkable. Who knew that there's now a direct train line between the city of Yiwu, China, located near Shanghai on the Pacific coast, and Madrid? Or that this little-known city, which calls itself "Yuwi International Trade Ci The author, a former Portuguese diplomat, political science PhD and think-tank habitué, travels to remote and sometimes dangerous places east of Poland and west of China, parts of the world one doesn't think much about. His travel descriptions and encounters with people are remarkable. Who knew that there's now a direct train line between the city of Yiwu, China, located near Shanghai on the Pacific coast, and Madrid? Or that this little-known city, which calls itself "Yuwi International Trade City," produces one-quarter of the world's toys and two-thirds of its Christmas decorations? "There is an Arab district and a Turkish district and and Indian district in Yiwu." Because it's so cosmopolitan, "every disturbance registered a continent away is immediately registered here." Yiwu's merchants knew that President Trump would win when no one in the U.S., including Trump himself, thought he would. That's because "a number of flag manufacturers and sellers in Yiwu and commented that orders coming from the United States for Trump flags far exceeded those for Hillary Clinton." Maçães travels to Astrakhan and Samosdelka, two cities I hadn't heard of. "Astrakhan, in southern Russia, has kept some of its identity as the connector of major civilizations. . . . [¶] Today, Astrakhan is just as cosmopolitan: Christians, Muslims and Buddhists co-exist peacefully." Curious about Samosdelka, I Googled it and found there's a luxury hotel there! But for Maçães, Samosdelka is interesting as the possible site of the lost city of Itil, "the capital of the Khazar empire [and] Europe's last lost city." To repeat, it's remarkable. Who knew? I didn't. No book is perfect, and Maçães seems to run out of energy toward the end of this one. In the chapter on Turkey, Maçães makes the startling claim that President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's Turkey is indeed menaced by a vast and deeply rooted conspiracy engineered by Erdoğan's bête noire, the Pennsylvania-based imam Muhammed Fethullah Gülen. Whether that's true or not I don't know, but Maçães bases his claim on a single source, a journalist whom he met with in Istanbul. That's too Thomas Friedman-esque for my palate. On page 221, Erdoğan's name is misspelled twice as "Ergoğan." Nevertheless, this is an amazing book, highly recommended. After reading it, I want to visit that part of the world. Luckily, at this writing Turkish Airlines flies nonstop from San Francisco to Istanbul, a good place to start.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Stephen

    A key precursor to the study of the future is to have a decent understanding of the past and present. This is one of those books that can help you with this. We may have an understanding of the Belt & Road Initiative (BRI), but do we have a wider context in which we can place it? If the influence of China is to spread westwards across Asia, then how does Russia fit into this? And what of the former Asian imperial powers? Iran? Turkey? India? These are interesting questions that this book address A key precursor to the study of the future is to have a decent understanding of the past and present. This is one of those books that can help you with this. We may have an understanding of the Belt & Road Initiative (BRI), but do we have a wider context in which we can place it? If the influence of China is to spread westwards across Asia, then how does Russia fit into this? And what of the former Asian imperial powers? Iran? Turkey? India? These are interesting questions that this book addresses. The book starts by trying to find where Europe ends and where Asia begins. This is not as easy as it sounds. The distinction highlights the background and upbringing of the beholder. For someone like me, the dividing line has been arbitrarily placed at the Ural Mountains. However, that places Azerbaijan in Europe, which has a distinctly awkward feel about it. The point is made that any dividing line will be arbitrary in nature because there is no clear place at which Europe ends and Asia begins. Perhaps it might be beneficial to think of the whole area as a single landmass? To view Eurasia as a separate entity? There is a case here as the economies and societies in this landmass start to integrate. China is onto something with the BRI. This is a policy to further accelerate this process of integration. It makes a lot of sense. However, the question arises of who will set the agenda for this process? It's obvious that China believes that it has a central role. But what do the others think? Interestingly enough, this process gives Russia a role in the post-Soviet world and explains much about the way in which Russia has behaved in recent years. Whilst Europeans have been anxious about Ukraine, Russian attention has been focused further south and further east. It is almost as if Russia has turned its back on Europe and has decided to become an Asiatic nation. Something similar could be said about Turkey. For decades Turkey tried to gain acceptance in European circles and was rebuffed. Many Turks now see their future eastwards rather than westwards, especially as China tries to lure them into it's circle of influence through the BRI. This means that something of the Chinese system has rubbed off onto Turkey, placing further distance between it and Europe. Europe occupies the far end of the Eurasian landmass. Important in historical terms, but uncertain about the future. The European Union has achieved a degree of cohesion, but is no longer looking outwards. Increasingly it is creating a siege economy with a focus of keeping outsiders from Europe and European wealth within it. Over the long term, this is not a recipe for success. Where, we might ask, is America in all of this? Bluntly, it isn't. As America gives in to its isolationist cravings, so the rest of the world is content to allow this to happen. America is still an indispensable nation, but less so than it used to be. This is a feature that might dominate our affairs in the coming decades because there is every sign that America will not fade away gracefully. The ultimate threat to America is the BRI. Very few Americans know this. President Trump has merely accelerated an existing trend. I quite liked this book. It's insightful and it's possible to learn a lot from it. The style is not academic, but it's not an easy read either. The reader has to maintain their attention and it's easy to miss something important. If the reader is looking for a very wide overview of near future geopolitics, this is a really useful starting point.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Michael

    I wanted to read at least one of Mr Macaes' books after hearing him at a couple of sessions at the Adelaide Writers Week talk about China's belt and road and the turning to the East of Europe. This book came about after he traveled through Asia for several months a couple of years back. He learned all he could about China's push to expand economically with trade to Europe, West Asia and Africa by investing in the infrastructure to make rail shipments across to Europe, which will cut shipping tim I wanted to read at least one of Mr Macaes' books after hearing him at a couple of sessions at the Adelaide Writers Week talk about China's belt and road and the turning to the East of Europe. This book came about after he traveled through Asia for several months a couple of years back. He learned all he could about China's push to expand economically with trade to Europe, West Asia and Africa by investing in the infrastructure to make rail shipments across to Europe, which will cut shipping times drastically. He also discovered that China is making big inroads in technological fields, especially digital by bringing the digital and physical worlds closer together. The most innovative advances in China are being developed by banks, insurance companies and big factory farms, not internet or computer companies. He also speaks of the growing ties between Russia and China, with growing trade and more border crossings opening up and how both countries are courting Turkey, and other middle eastern countries to look eastward for trade and development. He concludes the book by examining the initial speeches of President Trump. Right from his inaugural speech by what it left out - a lack of appeal to universal principals of freedom, democracy and equality. And how his utterances about governing are more in line with the thinking in China and Russia, then western democracies. I was rather surprised at the ideas he espouses in this book being a former fellow at the Hudson and the American Enterprise Institutes. You may not agree with everything in this book, but you will learn about where Europe, Russia and China and other Asian countries are heading.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Lalitha

    Nothing against the book but the subject is a dry one. I was lent this book by a colleague at work. It was only polite to read the book. The author talks about the weakening of the economic superiority of the western world with a rising face of new policies in the east. Consequently he espouses the need to have the idea of "eurasia" which shall blend the strengths of both regions. He then proceeds to understand economic growth in China, the position of Russia - is it western or Asian and Turkey' Nothing against the book but the subject is a dry one. I was lent this book by a colleague at work. It was only polite to read the book. The author talks about the weakening of the economic superiority of the western world with a rising face of new policies in the east. Consequently he espouses the need to have the idea of "eurasia" which shall blend the strengths of both regions. He then proceeds to understand economic growth in China, the position of Russia - is it western or Asian and Turkey's role as the western most frontier of Asia. The author seems to have done a lot of research in this field and has travelled quite extensively to glean his data. I liked the fact that the book included pictures of remote places and villages which are of geographic importance but just not yet. On the whole, I like that I have read a book that I would not pick up but this only reinforced my belief why I pick only certain genres.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Carlos Vasconcelos

    Interesting. Read this book if the subject matters to you. Can't give it 5 stars because it does get repetitive and the author sometimes goes for some unecessary fact "show off" that doesn't get the arguments anywhere.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Linda

    Fascinating analysis of power, culture and economic relations in the context of an historical and future Eurasia - this book has reshaped the way I think about the region that stretches from Europe to China.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Andrew Clough

    Actually something like 4.5 stars. Really great geopolitical analysis of Eurasia.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Cristian

    Blown away by the many original thoughts on current global & metapolitical issues. Looking at the crisis of the western world though the lens of the ascension of Asia is not completely new, but I've never read it in such a thorough execution. Macaes viewpoint may be European by birth, but his outlook is definitely Eurasian. It also helps that it is very well written, especially the Robert D. Kaplan-like travelogues. Highly recommended. Blown away by the many original thoughts on current global & metapolitical issues. Looking at the crisis of the western world though the lens of the ascension of Asia is not completely new, but I've never read it in such a thorough execution. Macaes viewpoint may be European by birth, but his outlook is definitely Eurasian. It also helps that it is very well written, especially the Robert D. Kaplan-like travelogues. Highly recommended.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Sultan khattak

    If you want to understand the interdependency amongst Europe, Russia, and Asia, you will find the opinions and ideas in this book very helpful.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Adam Ellsworth

    A very thought-provoking book exploring the challenges and opportunities in the increasing integration between Europe and Asia. My largest nitpick is just that I would have liked to see a little more in-depth analysis, with more specific examples of the differences between the way different cultures approach and think about geopolitical interactions with each other. This is discussed mainly on an abstract level, and it is fascinating, but some more concrete examples would have been nice (this is A very thought-provoking book exploring the challenges and opportunities in the increasing integration between Europe and Asia. My largest nitpick is just that I would have liked to see a little more in-depth analysis, with more specific examples of the differences between the way different cultures approach and think about geopolitical interactions with each other. This is discussed mainly on an abstract level, and it is fascinating, but some more concrete examples would have been nice (this is probably less the fault of the author and more the fault of my own slow brain). Any recommendations for other titles that would be good in better understanding the above?

  12. 5 out of 5

    Jack Carver

    Mr. Macaes book blends travelogue with geopolitical analysis in a manner that seems to have irked some readers. I concede that I once counted myself among those irked. The book's first quarter I read with skepticism and it was after a lengthy hiatus that I endeavored to read on. As I did so the nature of the author's conception became apparent, and I quickly found myself entranced with this wonderful tale of the currents of today and the world of tomorrow. Allow me to first explain this initial s Mr. Macaes book blends travelogue with geopolitical analysis in a manner that seems to have irked some readers. I concede that I once counted myself among those irked. The book's first quarter I read with skepticism and it was after a lengthy hiatus that I endeavored to read on. As I did so the nature of the author's conception became apparent, and I quickly found myself entranced with this wonderful tale of the currents of today and the world of tomorrow. Allow me to first explain this initial skepticism before setting forth my grounds for its emphatic dismissal. The ostensible topic of Mr. Macaes' book is the growing interconnectedness between the historic poles of the Eurasian landmass, an interconnectedness that is social and cultural but principally economic. A reader could reasonably expect such a thesis to be buttressed by facts and figures, trendlines and projections. That expectation is dashed when we instead find in The Dawn of Eurasia the musings of dressmakers from the Caucuses and professors from countries glossed over in geography class exhorting the importance of national myths. Dashed expectations often leave the expecting with a feeling of insult, a sense that the expectation was correct and an approach at odds with it therefore incorrect. This was, in any event, the case with respect to my first encounters with The Dawn of Eurasia. What followed were attempts to reassert the correctness of my expectation: sure, I thought, these anecdotes are interesting, many anecdotes are. But arguments reliant on them are reliant on their selection among an infinity of choices, and tendentious selection can create an infinity of narratives. I read on nonetheless and began to see the sparsity of data and the richness of anecdote from a new perspective, a perspective still not aligned with my expectation but one that seemed to permit glimpses of deeper truths. For the bald fact of the growing integration of Eurasia is indeed not the subject of this book. Such a book would in fact offer little but truisms to readers who see the pace and nature of the globalization everywhere they look, in light of which the integration of Eurasian powers is an obvious and inexorably corollary. What is far more interesting is the outlook of the parties that find themselves in varying degrees agent of and subject to this integration. Put differently, the integration itself is certain while its nature, by virtue of its dependence on the all too human features the participants bring with them, remains uncertain. The critical question then becomes: what are these features? The contemporary Westerner, Macaes asserts, believes that these features are those that have come to govern their own societies. Adherents of today's Western neoliberalism see their worldview as not only incorporating what the chaos and violence of their 20th century experience taught them but also rightly reflecting what it should have taught the entire global order. The core of this teaching seems to be that whatever neoliberalism's failings, it promises the best hope to avoid the destruction visited upon their societies by the zero-sum, emotionally resonant, will to power colored worldviews of the last century. Europe's faded prominence relative to other Eurasian powers, however, means that though evangelize and teach they may the adoption of such teachings is no longer in their control. This point, Macae argues, seems not fully appreciated by Eurozone bureaucrats who, historically accustomed to holding the strings of global power, are not in the practice of rigorously checking their assumptions against the beliefs of non-European parties whose beliefs have only recently begun to matter. That this multipolar world was inaugurated only recently is in the end immaterial, however. What is important today are two fundamental, related questions. First, is the Eurozone assumption that today's non-Western great powers share the values, even if not the implementation, of neoliberalism accurate? Second, what are the implications for Europe and the West at large if these powers do not share these values, but instead hold other values and worldviews that may not only resemble those of Europe's bad old days but also offer their adherents unique strengths and advantages? Answering the first question brings us back to the primacy of anecdotes and testimonies in the Dawn of Eurasia. Mr. Macaes implies that this question can be answered no other way, and in the final analysis I found myself convinced of this at well. You cannot find a worldview in charts and graphs. To expect to do so or worse determine that if you cannot it means it must not matter would be a grave failing, a failing likely attendant to reliance on overly technocratic methodologies sadly too often seen in Brussels. Worldviews, existing alone in the minds of people, are rather revealed in the text and subtext of revealed human words and human actions. The most striking case from the book in this regard is doubtlessly found in the sections devoted to China. Chinese obfuscation and the inherent imprecision of assessing worldviews makes this a challenging task and one that requires some trust be granted Mr. Macaes. Accepting that, the clear outlines of a Chinese worldview deeply at odds with the neoliberal global order becomes apparent. I will not compete with Mr. Macaes excellent portrayal of the contours of this worldview beyond a few broad strokes. Dubious Chinese assertions of their desire to only foster win-win situations on a global scale notwithstanding, the Chinese world picture seems to be as follows. The Chinese mind envisions a world where lesser Eurasian powers are offered indubitably advantageous economic arrangements with China, without the Western human rights or reform strings attached that are often perceived as interference. In doing so, China often offers local industry the opportunity to develop with Chinese loans and eventually participate in global supply chains and promises to bring a bigger picture, more holistic approach than American corporations hostage to shareholders. So far, so good; it is not difficult to understand why so many Eurasian powers have been open to Chinese investment already. But those that have accepted this investment have learned that while it may have came without the formal strings of the West, it is in no way unencumbered. In all such relations China maintains a preeminence carefully guarded and absolute. Mr. Macaes hearkens back to similar arrangements in dynastic China where lesser powers paid China annual tributes. These tributes were part of an arrangement in which China offered tangible benefits to the lesser power, but they were in no way a capitalistic exchange of payment between parties. The serf pays, the vassal provides; a system of obligation the terms of which are established by the more powerful party. Now, such an arrangement is not unique to Chinese history and I don't believe Mr. Macaes believes the historical parallel to be precise. Nonetheless, the "too good to be true" deals offered by China are often just that, and the privilege enjoyed by China is not limited to economics but also intrudes into other dimensions of national sovereignty such as holding political positions at odds with Chinese sacred cows such as the status of Hong Kong and Taiwan and the treatment of the Uigurs. The Dawn of Eurasia contains many similar examples from China as well as other worldview variant powers such as Russia and Turkey. To address the second question posed above, however, it is sufficient to remain on the subject of Eurasia's new superpower, China. What does it mean for Europe and the West to share global space with a competitor that thinks not in terms of the next quarter's economic results but rather regards itself as a civilizational power asserting civilizational interests? Whose citizens regard themselves not as economic actors in a global rules based system but members of a historically great people, possessing what a quoted Chinese student called a unique "sense of psychological identity" they will sacrifice to not only protect but globally assert? The answer seems ineluctable. And with it the equally clear path forward, despite the wish of neoliberalism to never see such a world return. Mr. Macaes speaks with Chinese who state that with respect to conflict the Chinese ideal is to win before the opponent even knows they are fighting. The time has come to recognize a fight has begun and to accept that it won't be governed by contemporary European values and ideals. While a true return to the belligerency of the European great power days must be carefully avoided, so must care also be taken to not attempt to compete on a global stage against a coherent civilization without being one oneself.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Jim Coughenour

    Maçães’s book had the salutary effect, at least while I was reading it, of inverting my usual perspective. Reading The Dawn of Eurasia I had the strong sense of observing world events from the periphery, not the center. Of course there is no center, or there are several. In Maçães’s view, there is the US, off to one side - then China, Russia and the EU, this trio being the salient aspects of the emerging “supercontinent” of Eurasia. Like the old geography exercise of turning the world map upside Maçães’s book had the salutary effect, at least while I was reading it, of inverting my usual perspective. Reading The Dawn of Eurasia I had the strong sense of observing world events from the periphery, not the center. Of course there is no center, or there are several. In Maçães’s view, there is the US, off to one side - then China, Russia and the EU, this trio being the salient aspects of the emerging “supercontinent” of Eurasia. Like the old geography exercise of turning the world map upside down, this perspective provokes us to consider obvious facts that we’ve easily overlooked. It’s also a book that, once begun, finds echoes everywhere. The Economist just published an issue on “Planet China” and its Belt and Road initiative; last week The Guardian published a colorful series on the New Silk Road; and Maçães himself has popped up here and there pointing out the possible promise of Brexit (the UK as a new Hong Kong or Singapore) or opining about the “Trump doctrine.” The Dawn of Eurasia is less streamlined, following Maçães for 6 months as he meanders across Eurasia, talking to all manner of characters who exist, more or less, to substantiate his talking points. His excurses are never less than interesting, and less fevered than the apocalyptic travels of Robert Kaplan. World generalizations require a grain of salt, but here are a couple to savor:Returning to Europe after a visit to China feels akin to stepping back in time, to a world where cash, email and business cards are still in use. Europeans have grown accustomed to new forms of social and technological conservatives, a widespread resistance to change which everywhere raises its head, often under harsh regulatory inquisition, while Asia seems addicted to change, often for its own sake. (117) Stripped of appearances, every Russian discussion, and every division in society, is a discussion and a division about history rather than politics. (175) European politicians tend to appeal to rules and values to which political power must subject itself, while in Russia it is much more common and natural to appeal, not to rules, but to a power capable of establishing and enforcing them. . . . Since power needs the latent presence of chaos as a source of legitimacy, then chaos itself is legitimized and, ironically, may even be celebrated. (194, 195) Maçães’s book may be “unashamedly Centre right” (as one reviewer phrased it); books like this, it seems, generally are. That’s fine. Any reader, right or left, will benefit from its critical perspective. I also appreciated the author’s reference to a range of Russian, Japanese, Chinese, Korean and Mongolian novels, most of them dystopian. But if this is the dawn, you can’t blame Europeans for hoping to head back into a more welcoming night.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Will

    In Bruno Macaes’ first book Dawn of Eurasia, Macaes opens with the premise that global political relations of the 21st Century will be characterised by a world order in which there are multiple civilizational centres of economic, political and cultural power, namely, China, Europe, India, Russia, all with their own unique geopolitical constraints and ambitions, value systems, concepts of order and modernity, existential struggles and contradictions. In doing so he dispels two commonly held assum In Bruno Macaes’ first book Dawn of Eurasia, Macaes opens with the premise that global political relations of the 21st Century will be characterised by a world order in which there are multiple civilizational centres of economic, political and cultural power, namely, China, Europe, India, Russia, all with their own unique geopolitical constraints and ambitions, value systems, concepts of order and modernity, existential struggles and contradictions. In doing so he dispels two commonly held assumptions: that the future will simply be characterised as either Asian or American, and that non-Western states are either progressing towards the ideals of liberalism or they are turning their noses up at the ‘the end of history’ as it were. Regressing some might say. This particular way of thinking about global relations is quite literally locked in the liberal world view, unable to see other ways of thinking about modernity after the Cold War that seemed to conclude that there were no other options other than that of liberalism. The perception has a Manichean quality to it, in which states around the world are understood and judged only through the purview of them being either liberal, or not to standard. The only standard. What Macaes sets out to do in his first book, quite literally in the spirit of adventure, travelling around Eurasia, interacting with different civilisations, is to break out of the our familiar mindset, to recognise that civilisations need to be understood on their own terms, before we make any key decisions on the pressing questions regarding the future direction of Western states. On the one hand, this seems kind of obvious to anyone who has taken their time to try and understand cultural differences in faraway lands on a fundamental level. Different peoples think differently about the world. Unfortunately, it seems that in politics, at least where I come from (UK), academics, journalists, politicians and officials have struggled to break free from traditional liberal dichotomies. As such, those who wield power are at risk of acting against a backdrop of dangerous fantasies about world order at the expense of those they govern. We must learn about other civilisations as much as we can on their own terms. Doing so will help us navigate a world that is not on a linear progression towards liberal modernity, but a world in which there are multiple, conflicting paths, sometimes trailing through very different landscapes. What makes this so urgent is not the mere fact that the world order is becoming increasingly multipolar, it is that, given the nature of globalisation, these civilizational poles that have their own unique conceptions of order and modernity, will be interacting on levels never seen before in history. It is a world that needs to be smartly navigated, not one that should be attempted to change.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Stevedutch

    From his vantage point – about as west as you can get on mainland Europe – the author, in this ambitious geopolitical travelogue, casts his glance from one side of the sprawling mass that is ‘Eurasia’ to the other. Informing his prognostications, amongst other varied geopolitical type appointments, is his experience as Portugal’s ‘Europe Minister’. The book certainly takes the reader to, what is likely to be – at least to the great majority, I suspect – little known and far-flung places, attempt From his vantage point – about as west as you can get on mainland Europe – the author, in this ambitious geopolitical travelogue, casts his glance from one side of the sprawling mass that is ‘Eurasia’ to the other. Informing his prognostications, amongst other varied geopolitical type appointments, is his experience as Portugal’s ‘Europe Minister’. The book certainly takes the reader to, what is likely to be – at least to the great majority, I suspect – little known and far-flung places, attempting to trace the nascent super-continent’s ‘centre of gravity’. As such the reader would be well advised to have at hand a world atlas: even though the published market addition has maps at the beginning, the proof copy hasn’t and this reader, at least, found it, if slightly awkward, an indispensable accessory! The format is part travelogue, part geopolitical history, essentially providing, respectively, interwoven worm’s and bird’s eye views, the former arising from interviewing indigenous members of various exotic sounding populations along the way; the latter, from his own education and experience, sprinkled, sporadically by aphoristic, anecdotal seasoning in the form of quotes from a variety of past and present ‘Eurasian’ worthies. And gradually, we begin to see the world in a different way, removed from the Mercator projection etched into Western minds by years of, largely, not very creative and imaginative formal education, made even more so by national curricular. How often, for example, do we recall that Russia and America are only a couple of hundred miles or so apart if we stop to consider their respective eastern and western boundaries? Despite being somewhat ‘stodgy’ in parts – mainly when travelling in ‘worm mode’, it’s certainly a book that provides food for a great deal of thought and should warrant more than one reading over the course of the next few years, in order to get the most from it.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Adrian

    Bruno Macaes's work, for this reader at least, struck the perfect balance between political analysis and travelogue. It kept focus entirely upon the central theme, the political and cultural emergence of a Eurasian supercontinent as a reality in global politics and economics, regardless of cultural preconceptions. Macaes demonstrates the overwhelming connectivity between Europe and Asia, and how the traditional demarcations are becoming more and more porous. Macaes devotes considerable attention Bruno Macaes's work, for this reader at least, struck the perfect balance between political analysis and travelogue. It kept focus entirely upon the central theme, the political and cultural emergence of a Eurasian supercontinent as a reality in global politics and economics, regardless of cultural preconceptions. Macaes demonstrates the overwhelming connectivity between Europe and Asia, and how the traditional demarcations are becoming more and more porous. Macaes devotes considerable attention to Russia as a revisionist power, and rightly so, as Russia is shown to be a wounded power with an identity crisis that is revising the global order to suit its own position. Other notable insights are the coverage of China's Belt and Road initiative as a massive global infrastructure campaign that essentially ties economies to China's orbit, and Turkey as the quintessential bridge to Eurasia, and why policy makers should take Turkey more seriously. The final chapter looks at the divisions within Europe, in many ways a sobering experience which dampens ones confidence in Europe itself, even if one is (like this reader) pro-European. A very well researched, coherent and readable piece that is entirely relevant, informative and to the point. An essential read.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Dan Sumption

    One of the most fascinating books I've read in a long time. Political scientist and former Portuguese Europe Minister, Bruno Maçães, journeys through China, Russia, Khazakstan, Turkmenistan and more, pondering the future of the Eurasian supercontinent. He ridicules the notion of Europe and Asia as separate continents (apparently the distinction arose because sailors had to circumnavigate Africa to get to Asia), and talks at length about the rise of China, its plans to reinstate the Silk Road as One of the most fascinating books I've read in a long time. Political scientist and former Portuguese Europe Minister, Bruno Maçães, journeys through China, Russia, Khazakstan, Turkmenistan and more, pondering the future of the Eurasian supercontinent. He ridicules the notion of Europe and Asia as separate continents (apparently the distinction arose because sailors had to circumnavigate Africa to get to Asia), and talks at length about the rise of China, its plans to reinstate the Silk Road as a high-speed freight railway (the "Belt and Road"), and the response of "island" Russia, caught between a resurgent China and a stagnating European Union. I learnt a huge amount from this book, and it gave me a clearer impression of the likely future for Europe, Russia and China than any of the (many) other politics & economics books I've read lately.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Ben Davies

    A interesting first delve into the topic of super-continental geopolitics. The author does a great job of covering the high level desires and motivations for the key players in the region and the likely roles they would like to play. If you’re interested in what the the history of the next 100 years could be then this is well worth a read.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Ralph Roosmalen

    Tough read. I had to force myself to finish the book. It gave some nice insights but that could have done with half of the pages. Furthermore, I was missing a clear story line, specially at the end. Many pages about the European refugees crises, where I could not link it to the previous topics.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Paulo Lopes

    With this book, Macaes shows the path for Europe to have a future.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Vikas Erraballi

    An almost spiritual perspective on the future of international order. Highly enjoyable.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Ronit Konch

    Part travelogue and part scholarly analysis, the author makes the argument that the future of the world does not belong to Europe or Asia. It is part of a new slew of books which brings to the forefront the growing importance of Asia in the world. The difference here being the author's advocacy of a Eurasian world. He begins the book by discussing where the idea of Europe came from. Europe was always defined in opposition to Asia, the other, though there is no natural frontier truly dividing the Part travelogue and part scholarly analysis, the author makes the argument that the future of the world does not belong to Europe or Asia. It is part of a new slew of books which brings to the forefront the growing importance of Asia in the world. The difference here being the author's advocacy of a Eurasian world. He begins the book by discussing where the idea of Europe came from. Europe was always defined in opposition to Asia, the other, though there is no natural frontier truly dividing these two continents. From there he moves on to talk about the greater integration happening in this new world. This is leading to divergent beliefs on how the world should function which is feeding into certain conflicts. For example, while the European Union wants to use this inter-dependency to create common institutions, Russia sees it as a set of vulnerabilities to be taken advantage of. An undercurrent running throughout the book is the author's worries about how Europe should be dealing with this new situation. Europe's turn inwards leaves it increasingly vulnerable with these forces of change. The author wants it to turn to more actively to a project of Eurasian integration to combat the forces of disintegration within Europe itself. I particularly enjoyed the chapter on China. It gives a different spin on the recent belt and road initiative of China. By actively funding different countries of the world China is attempting to get them to focus on agriculture and other low-tech industries (Ex-Pakistan) while itself shifting into higher-value sectors. The Chinese populace also sees these initiatives as a way to inculcate mutual trust, reciprocity and co-operation amongst its neighbours. But as the author warns, it also includes an implicit appeal to Chinese ideas of a hierarchical system where China enjoys a special place. "A moralized notion of international politics will mean that values such as loyalty, gratitude and friendship can easily translate into relations of dependency, and where reprisals for charting an independent path are part of Chinese foreign policy." It was also surprising to realize the high tech nature of daily life in China (or for that matter in other East Asian countries) which is fueled by a need to catch up with the west. Entire high tech cities are being built overnight. They recently built the city of Khorgas near the Kazakhstan border in 3 years and it already has a population of 200,000. Such mega-cities show the radical changes happening in China which are not being discussed nowadays. It also shows the vulnerabilities such projects might bring about due to their security situation, a case in point being the heightened security in Xinjiang with their innumerable checkpoints and the 15,000 policemen recently recruited by Pakistan to protect its Chinese investments. It also discusses Russia, Turkey, European Union etc. in like manner. I liked the book enough but it does tends to get slightly repetitive at times. Also, not as readable as some other books I have read in this genre. I was going to give up after the 1st chapter but continued as Niall Ferguson had recommended it. Was rewarded with some interesting insight later.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Dennis

    I would love to give this 4.5 stars if I could. It's a really elegantly written commentary on the prospects of integration in the future among the nations that span the super continent of Europe and Asia. The author travels from the Caucuses and Ural Mountains to the edge of Asia, and then back to the bridge that spans from Europe to Asia in Istanbul. He meets with locals in Kazakhstan, Russia, Turkey, China, and others and gets the scoop both on the ground and in the heights of the political el I would love to give this 4.5 stars if I could. It's a really elegantly written commentary on the prospects of integration in the future among the nations that span the super continent of Europe and Asia. The author travels from the Caucuses and Ural Mountains to the edge of Asia, and then back to the bridge that spans from Europe to Asia in Istanbul. He meets with locals in Kazakhstan, Russia, Turkey, China, and others and gets the scoop both on the ground and in the heights of the political elite to determine the strategies being employed to stake out positions for the future. One interesting phenomenon is the Belt and Road project, an initiative with China at the helm, which is creating transportation infrastructure and economic zones along borders to create a closer trade system with Asian values at the core. The author describes Khorgas, an instant city on the western frontier of China along the border of Kazakhstan that aspires to become an inland port of the magnitude of Dubai. The chapter on Russia was a bit tedious, although it was important to note the internal conflict the Russians struggle with about whether their identity is European or Asian. Essentially they wish to remain both. They don't wish to succumb to European values what with its obsession with rules, rules rooted in European thinking. On the other hand, Russia recognizes its waning influence over former Soviet republics such as Kazakhstan which is adamant about preventing Russian power to return. Russia's view is to return to a world system in which nation states compete against one another for power, vis-a-vis the European ideal of a world eventually governed by a supranational state akin to the European Union, governed by technical algorithms developed by Europeans. The problems associated with the existing European and Asian views is highlighted by the recent refugee crisis in which Turkey held the key to stemming the flows of migrants from Asia to Europe. Only when Europe worked out a deal with Turkey did the numbers return to more manageable levels. The final chapters focus on the surprising developments in the West, most notably the election of Donald Trump to the presidency in America and the popular vote supporting Brexit. Both have created enormous doubt about the ongoing European project, and at the same time reveal growing anxieties about the growth of power in Asia. The author posits the idea of Britain once extracted from the E.U. fashioning itself as a sort of Singapore although reversing the roles. Where Singapore has prospered by anchoring itself in Asia as an outpost for European economic activity, Britain would strengthen its own position as a modal for Asian products and ideas after distancing itself from Europe.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Zo

    I have not read much in this genre before, so my opinion may be inflated by naïveté/newness, but I loved reading this. Bruno does a great job of blending personal travelogue, historical storytelling, and geopolitical theorizing. He frames the book as built on the premise that we need to start thinking about global politics in terms of Eurasia, and while he does make this point convincingly, I see the central idea of the book as more that European/liberal/western thinkers need to start seeing the I have not read much in this genre before, so my opinion may be inflated by naïveté/newness, but I loved reading this. Bruno does a great job of blending personal travelogue, historical storytelling, and geopolitical theorizing. He frames the book as built on the premise that we need to start thinking about global politics in terms of Eurasia, and while he does make this point convincingly, I see the central idea of the book as more that European/liberal/western thinkers need to start seeing the world more in terms of geopolitical competition than they currently do. His attempts at characterizing the philosophical/ideological moments of different places/nations is great, and he does a good job of using the Europe/Asia divide question as the central theme without making it too reductive. The risk of Bruno's geopolitical mindset is that it can verge into armchair theorizing and narrativization without hard-data or strongly compelling reasons to believe the vision he paints. Do China and Russia really have the geopolitical aspirations Bruno ascribes to them? I am not sure to what degree Bruno is attributing actual malicious intent to China/Russia (he seems to somewhat do so with both countries, though more so with Russia - and I think he does muster some evidence in each case - i.e. Xi Jinping's dealings with Mongolia/Tibet controversy), and how much he is arguing that geopolitical considerations will unavoidably emerge (even if they are not being consciously regarded now) given the shifting balances of power and competing ideologies those powers hold. Bruno argues well for both views, and I particularly think he makes a strong case for the latter (which is bolstered by Brexit/Trump - which weren't part of the evidence he was drawing on when starting the book!). Due to the abstract nature of the content this book might be challenging to "judge" for the quality of its ideas even after things have unfolded, but regardless, he writes in a literary/entertaining style that is consistently thought-provoking (I took lots of notes that I'm not including here) and worth-reading. And I give real credence to the idea that he is largely right in his analysis of the geopolitical stakes of our times, in which case this book is a truly important read.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Miss Kelly

    Nothing original about this book; not even its title. A very Eurocentric vision of the world from a Minister of Europe. Despite many turn of phrases and attempts to convey the idea of universality, this is a book about the idea of European superiority, the higher values and morality offered by Europe and the need to "manage" the unruly "others" and it comes across very forcefully. I don't see any real proposals or new ideas of promoting greater collaboration between different peoples; on the con Nothing original about this book; not even its title. A very Eurocentric vision of the world from a Minister of Europe. Despite many turn of phrases and attempts to convey the idea of universality, this is a book about the idea of European superiority, the higher values and morality offered by Europe and the need to "manage" the unruly "others" and it comes across very forcefully. I don't see any real proposals or new ideas of promoting greater collaboration between different peoples; on the contrary all I hear is how to reserve European exceptionalism, how not to loose ground too quickly to the advancing Chinese economy. The first thing that Europe needs to give up is the arrogance that has defined its dealings with the rest of the world. The world is becoming mulipolar, ideas do not live in a single place, and there is a natural tendency for power to shift from region to region. Europe it was, Asia it will be soon, and maybe Africa down the road. Anything else is just either blindness, ignorance of history, or denial of the inevitable.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Ryan Tolusso

    Read this on the strength of Tyler Cowen's recommendation. It was a frustrating read. The author makes grand claims with few sources or evidence to back them up. He casually attributes attitudes, belief systems and ideas to some of the largest countries in the world as if their people, institutions and leaders were homogenous beings. He weaves in vague and sweeping claims about the nature of international politics which lack any precision or falsifiability. When he is making halfway believable a Read this on the strength of Tyler Cowen's recommendation. It was a frustrating read. The author makes grand claims with few sources or evidence to back them up. He casually attributes attitudes, belief systems and ideas to some of the largest countries in the world as if their people, institutions and leaders were homogenous beings. He weaves in vague and sweeping claims about the nature of international politics which lack any precision or falsifiability. When he is making halfway believable arguments, they're unfocused and don't line up into a clear narrative. I'm not sure how someone who has worked at the centre of government and who has a PhD in government could write a book with so little rigour. The bits where he travels aren't half bad, and he does visit some interesting places. I learned a few things, so I guess two stars is a generous rating.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Carsten

    The thought, that Eurasia will emerge as a geopolitical entity in the not so distant future is an interesting one. I wonder, though, how long this transformation will take, whether it will be peaceful and whether democracy as we know it (in the EU) will remain. Possibly Trump will accelerate this transformation, but I am not sure. There are a lot of interesting points in the book (although I don’t share some of the authors conclusions). The content of the book is 4 stars, but the writing let it The thought, that Eurasia will emerge as a geopolitical entity in the not so distant future is an interesting one. I wonder, though, how long this transformation will take, whether it will be peaceful and whether democracy as we know it (in the EU) will remain. Possibly Trump will accelerate this transformation, but I am not sure. There are a lot of interesting points in the book (although I don’t share some of the authors conclusions). The content of the book is 4 stars, but the writing let it down: many repetitions and, I felt, unnecessary points. Still, this is an interesting book and I am happy that I’ve read it.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Jonny

    Another example of someone with interesting ideas on Twitter not carrying that through into a good book. Macaes has interesting narrative patches (mainly around Russia’s relationship with Europe and Asia, which are more developed than his reporting on Turkey and China) but there’s no sense of a coherent whole. Ultimately this boils down to the fact that Europe and Asia make up a single land mass, and globalisation will keep promoting closer political and economic links between them, which will b Another example of someone with interesting ideas on Twitter not carrying that through into a good book. Macaes has interesting narrative patches (mainly around Russia’s relationship with Europe and Asia, which are more developed than his reporting on Turkey and China) but there’s no sense of a coherent whole. Ultimately this boils down to the fact that Europe and Asia make up a single land mass, and globalisation will keep promoting closer political and economic links between them, which will be difficult to manage. I’m impressed that he managed to get funding to travel round the two continents to keep reiterating that point, but the book itself doesn’t really move the argument along.

  29. 4 out of 5

    David Cournapeau

    I read this a while ago, based on a recommendation on tyler cowen's blog. To say I was disappointed would be an understatement. Most of the points seem poorly argued, the writing is rather dry, and I found the main thesis unconvincing. It sounds like a lot of typical "big ideas" intellectuals with little depth, writing about a subject with little actual research, and mostly based on a few observations made during his travels. I don't get the praise of the book at all: all I can think is that it t I read this a while ago, based on a recommendation on tyler cowen's blog. To say I was disappointed would be an understatement. Most of the points seem poorly argued, the writing is rather dry, and I found the main thesis unconvincing. It sounds like a lot of typical "big ideas" intellectuals with little depth, writing about a subject with little actual research, and mostly based on a few observations made during his travels. I don't get the praise of the book at all: all I can think is that it tackles a major topic (east rise, especially China) from a slightly unusual angle for westerners.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Chet

    Macçães is brilliantly imaginative and well-read; the book has a gift for imagination and the perfectly noticed detail. It is in the main light on facts and technical knowledge, assuming either a reader’s pre-existing competence or total lack of interest. In its travelogue format, it reads very much as the work of a politician, insofar as it makes its author fascinating and attractive while pretending to dwell on fascinating and attractive ideas. The rare book that should be longer, although one Macçães is brilliantly imaginative and well-read; the book has a gift for imagination and the perfectly noticed detail. It is in the main light on facts and technical knowledge, assuming either a reader’s pre-existing competence or total lack of interest. In its travelogue format, it reads very much as the work of a politician, insofar as it makes its author fascinating and attractive while pretending to dwell on fascinating and attractive ideas. The rare book that should be longer, although one suspects in the constant inferences that a more comprehensive effort would be quite a strain on the author. Romantic, in the 19th century sense

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