Saturday, April 4, 2009

The Second World

At 341 pages plus 64 pages of notes all in small font, this book is a mule choker but it's still a condensation of 423 other books (listed in the bibliography) that also provides a unique point of view - not a regurgitation but a mastery of and a Gaudi-esque building upon.

While the Economist magazine and the press in general only report events in countries, Khanna concisely articulates the geographic, political and cultural context that the country faces, the backstory in short, to those events, while at the same time holding the players accountable for the results.  He covers countries in Asia, Latin America, the Middle East, Central and Eastern Europe and countries from the former USSR.

The vocabulary in this book is beautiful.  Khanna plucks words like ummah and condottieri from the native trees on which they grow and uses them to write about both the locale or culture from which they came as well as applying them to other contexts, collapsing time and space.  

For a tapas-sized taste of his writing, try this article "The Coming Middle Ages" published in McKinsey Quarterly February 2009.  He outlines the shared concepts between the Middle Ages and our future including the Renaissance idea of a nation-state vs the Middle Ages concept of the city-state and how these 2 ideas apply to failed as well as successful nation-states today.

Khanna markets himself well by maintaining a blog with links to all his published output whether interviews, books or videos.

This is a masterful book and worth a second read.  

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