Jul 31, 2010

The Age of the Unthinkable by Joshua Cooper Ramo

The Age of the Unthinkable: Why the New World Disorder Constantly Surprises Us And What We Can Do About It
Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: Back Bay Books; Reprint edition (June 2, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0316118117
ISBN-13: 978-0316118118

For decades, American foreign policy has been based on the seductive belief that there exists a logical relationship between power of states and the physics of change. And yet today policies designed to make us safer instead make the world more perilous. History's grandest war against terrorism creates more terrorists. Global capitalism, intended to boost the quality of life of people around the world, increases the gap between rich and poor. Decisions taken to stem a financial crisis guarantee its arrival. Environmental techniques engineered to protect species lead to their extinction. Middle East peace plans produce less peace. Our world is not becoming more stable or flatter or easier to comprehend. And what we face isn't one single shift, like the end of World War Two or the collapse of the Soviet Union, so much as a revolutionary avalanche of ceaseless change.

Now, drawing upon history, economics, complexity theory, human immunology, psychology and his own extraordinary experiences, Joshua Ramo puts forth a radical new model for looking at the world, one that embraces its inherent unpredictability--and offers our best hope for dealing with problems and disasters as they emerge.


The Age of the Unthinkable is a book filled with likely dozens of different statistics, a whole bunch of history, democracy, economics, technology, globalization issues, science, and so much more.

On the front cover, there is a list of topics supposedly covered:

  • Global capitalism increases the rift between rich and poor
  • Environmental policy to protect species leads to their extinction
  • An international war on terror produces more dangerous terrorists
  • Efforts to stem a financial crisis accelerate its arrival
A quote on page 166 says, "Changing how we see isn't easy.  All of us have a little hedgehog in us, that desire to see and understand something completely, once and for all.  .... It's also that it's exhausting to constantly change our point of view and options and attitudes."

Maybe the quote above describes what I was looking for when I agreed to review this book.  I wanted to understand a bit more about our world, but what I got was a mishmash of jumbled facts, statistics and lots of personal opinions by the author. What I got from this book was a whole bunch of confusion, and not an answer of "What We Can Do About ... The New World Disorder".

Maybe some would say that I am "putting my head in the sand", but this book was overwhelming, frustrating and a very difficult read.

Disclosure:  I received a review copy of The Age of The Unthinkable from Hachette Books. I received no compensation for my thoughts.

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