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The author is intelligent and well-read. The book is a tour of most of the trouble spots of the world. The author has interesting, informative, and sometimes counter-intuitive things to say about each and every one of them. For this reason I would recommend it as a must-read for the beach or for the person who knows a little bit about foreign policy and want to know a little bit more. The BIG IDEA of the book -- i.e., the J-Curve -- is not really a theory or an idea or much of anything other than a way to organize a lot of information. But there is a lot of information, and the J-Curve graph helps organize it, albeit imprecisely. So I give it a pass on that score.
Publishers Weekly, 2006-07-10 With this timely book, political risk consultant Bremmer aims to "describe the political and economic forces that revitalize some states and push others toward collapse." His simple premise is that if one were to graph a nation's stability as a function of its openness, the result would be a "J curve," suggesting that as nations become more open, they become less stable until they eventually surpass their initial levels of stability. In other words, a closed society like Cuba is relatively stable; a more open society like Saudi Arabia is less so; and an extremely open society like the United States is extremely stable. Bremmer expertly distills decades-sometimes centuries-of history as he analyzes 10 countries at different positions on the J curve. North Korea is perhaps the most disturbing example of the left side of the curve, where a closed authoritarian regime produces effective stability; on the right of the curve sit stable countries like Turkey, Israel and India. This leads Bremmer to conclude that political isolation and sanctions often work against their intended results and that globalization is the key to opening closed authoritarian states. Bremmer persuasively illustrates his core thesis without eliding the complexities of global or national politics. (Sept.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
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