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The Next 100 Years: A Forecast for the 21st Century (Hardcover)


Amazon.com Review
Amazon Best of the Month, January 2009: "Be Practical, Expect the Impossible." So declares George Friedman, chief intelligence officer and founder of Strategic Forecasting, Inc. (Stratfor), a private intelligence agency whose clients include foreign government agencies and Fortune 500 companies. Gathering information from its global network of operatives and analysts (drawing the nickname "the Shadow CIA"), Stratfor produces thoughtful and genuinely engrossing analysis of international events daily, from possible outcomes of the latest Pakistan/India tensions to the hierarchy of Mexican drug cartels to challenges to Obama's nascent administration. In The Next 100 Years, Friedman undertakes the impossible (or improbable) challenge of forecasting world events through the 21st century. Starting with the premises that "conventional political analysis suffers from a profound failure of imagination" and "common sense will be wrong," Friedman maps what he sees as the likeliest developments of the future, some intuitive, some surprising: more (but less catastrophic) wars; Russia's re-emergence as an aggressive hegemonic power; China's diminished influence in international affairs due to traditional social and economic imbalances; and the dawn of an American "Golden Age" in the second half of the century. Friedman is well aware that much of what he predicts will be wrong--unforeseeable events are, of course, unforeseen--but through his interpretation of geopolitics, one gets the sense that Friedman's guess is better than most. --Jon Foro


Review
"With a unique combination of cold-eyed realism and boldly confident fortune-telling, Friedman (America’s Secret War) offers a global tour of war and peace in the upcoming century. The author asserts that “the United States’ power is so extraordinarily overwhelming” that it will dominate the coming century, brushing aside Islamic terrorist threats now, overcoming a resurgent Russia in the 2010s and ’20s and eventually gaining influence over space-based missile systems that Friedman names “battle stars.” Friedman is the founder of Stratfor, an independent geopolitical forecasting company, and his authoritative-sounding predictions are based on such factors as natural resources and population cycles. While these concrete measures lend his short-term forecasts credence, the later years of Friedman’s 100-year cycle will provoke some serious eyebrow raising. The armed border clashes between Mexico and the United States in the 2080s seem relatively plausible, but the space war pitting Japan and Turkey against the United States and allies, prognosticated to begin precisely on Thanksgiving Day 2050, reads as fantastic (and terrifying) science fiction. Whether all of the visions in Friedman’s crystal ball actually materialize, they certainly make for engrossing entertainment." --Publishers Weekly

“This is a book about unintended consequences and how the constraints of time and place impact the behavior of individuals and nations and offer a view of future events. [Friedman’s] theories are fascinating….This is an excellent book.”
--Booklist

“Futurologist Friedman entertainingly explains how America will bestride the world during this century. Prophecy, whether by astrologers, science-fiction writers or geopoliticians, has a dismal track record, but readers will enjoy this steady stream of clever historical analogies, economic analyses and startling demographic data.”
--Kirkus

“There is a temptation, when you are around George Friedman, to treat him like a Magic 8-Ball.”
—New York Times Magazine

“Barron’s consistently has found Stratfor’s insights informative and largely on the money—as has the company’s large client base, which ranges from corporations to media outlets and government agencies.”
—Barron’s

“One of the country’s leading strategic affairs experts.”
—Lou Dobbs

Is This How It Will Go?, January 27, 2009
By Eric Mayforth (Houston, TX United States)


When one takes into account the staggering advances that took place in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, it is a brave forecaster who would even attempt to predict the course of our (still relatively) new century. George Friedman undertakes this task in "The Next 100 Years".

Friedman opens by taking the reader through the twentieth century at twenty-year intervals, showing how the concerns in any given time period are quickly forgotten and replaced by new concerns. This prepares the reader to see that the twenty-first century will also be anything but static, either, as America will not be facing the same set of challenges by 2020 as we did on September 11, 2001, and will be dealing with many different issues as the century progresses.

The author is a very incisive thinker, relaying stunning insight after stunning insight in demonstrating how we arrived at where we are now, with Europe having been supplanted by America as the world's focal point.

Friedman contends that, far from declining (as many fear), America is just beginning its rise. The century will be characterized, he predicts, by regional powers attempting to form coalitions to limit American power, and America attempting to prevent the formation of such coalitions. This will ultimately result at mid-century in a war that will have many similarities with World War II--the war will begin with a surprise attack on a key American military target, will be fought against a familiar foe, will result in the development of stunning new technologies, and will be followed by a new golden age redolent of the one following World War II.

This book also takes a look at the worldwide population bust--policy debates in American politics will be driven in part by debates about the number of immigrants needed as a result of the bust. The author asserts that our politics operates in fifty-year cycles, and that both transition points of American politics in the twenty-first century will be driven by immigration. One of the predictions in the book is almost made as an aside--the author is really hanging his neck out on the line, since we will be able to see in not 20 or 50 years, but within the next two years whether the author is correct in his prediction about how much President Obama will be able to roll back the basic policies that President Reagan put in place in the early 1980s.

The book closes by examining some of the technological breakthroughs such as robots and space-based energy that will transform life later in the century, and asserts that the end of the century will be characterized by increasing disharmony with Mexico over the American Southwest.

Anyone interested in what the future might hold (that is, just about everyone) would enjoy reading "The Next 100 Years". The only regret you will have when you have finished reading it is the realization that you will not be around in 2100 to see if all of the predictions in this supremely fascinating book come to pass.

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