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Wednesday, November 21, 2018

"The Absent Superpower" by Peter Zeihan. A Review

The Absent Superpower: The Shale Revolution and a World Without AmericaThe Absent Superpower: The Shale Revolution and a World Without America by Peter Zeihan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

In "The Absent Superpower" Peter Zeihan, geopolitical strategist, speaker and author, picks up where he left off in "The Accidental Superpower." And in these 422 pages, published in January 2017, the author revs the engine to higher RPMs, slams into first gear, and screeches out onto the track. For a hardback packed with details about geology, oil production, politics, and history, it is amazingly an engaging read! My wife, who read the book, agrees!

The main focus in the book is oil production, and specifically shale. Zeihan's premise is that the shale revolution has made the U.S.A. more independent from the rest of the world. Couple that with the end of the Cold War, and the rise of isolationism (evidenced in the 2016 Presidential election), then it is highly likely the America will pull back from the larger world allowing things to go to pot. "The question no longer is whether shale will be at the heart of American energy (it already is) but what the world will look like when the United States no longer is tied to global energy markets" (93). The lion's share of the book is the author's answer to that question.

"The Absent Superpower" unfolds into three main parts. The first explains the history, how and headway of shale petroleum production in four chapters. Then Zeihan describes, through six chapters, what he sees as the coming world disorder, its three major wars, who may sink and who might survive. Finally, the author takes three chapters and a conclusion to draw out the ways America will, and will not, engage with the global system, and will not be absent in one area: Latin America. As an added bonus Zeihan has three appendices, with "Shale and the Changing Face of Climate Change" being worth the time to read and ponder, no matter where you come out on the subject.

If you enjoyed the first volume, you will find the second an essential addition. "The Absent Superpower" is just the book for anyone looking around the world and trying to make out heads and tails. Folks who work in the oil patch will also gain much from the manuscript's bigger picture, and how their work in the energy industry fits into the landscape. I highly recommend the book!

My thanks to Peter Zeihan and Peter Zeihan on Geopolitics for sending, at my request, the volume used for this review. Neither the author nor the publisher made any demands. All thoughts in this review are mine, freely arrived at and freely bestowed.

You can purchase the book here: "The Absent Superpower"

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