The Boundary Between East and West?

 

What is the dividing line between East and West? Where does the Western World end and the Orient begin?

“Adriatic: A Concert of Civilizations at the End of the Modern Age,” by Robert D. Kaplan, asserts the Adriatic Sea forms the dividing line. Kaplan explores the role played by the Adriatic from ancient times through the present day, examining its role as an interface between east and west.

“Adriatic” is part travelogue, part history, and part personal reminisce. Starting in Rimini, Italy, Kaplan takes readers around the Adriatic, working his way around the coast to Corfu in Greece. He stops at Ravenna, Venice, Trieste, two cities in Slovenia, four cities in Croatia, two each in Montenegro and Albania, before arriving at Corfu.

At each city, he examines its history, culture, and place in the modern world. He looks at local architecture and art, consulting with several residents active in the local art and literary scene. This includes discussions of famous nineteenth and twentieth-century western artists and authors who resided in those towns; Ezra Pound in Rapallo and Joyce in Trieste as examples.

In each chapter, he reviews the history of each place he visits. He examines its place in ancient and medieval history, shows how the boundaries between east and west shifted, and the role each place played. He also examines its place in the modern world and its potential future. This includes an examination of the effects of the Balkan Wars of the 1990s, and the current state of each country and city visited.

It examines the role he expects each place will play in the near future. Kaplan believes China’s Belt and Road system will restore the Adriatic’s traditional role as conduit between East and West. Just as Venice brought Eastern goods to Western Europe through the Adriatic during medieval times, Chinese investments in northern Adriatic pots will restore it to that role in the present.

Kaplan is a globalist. He believes China will become an enduring superpower and Russia will be restored to its prior superpower status, leading to a multipolar world. These views infuse the book. It was researched prior to the Covid lockdowns, and the changes it brought about. His predictions of Chinese and Russian dominance and inevitable Western decline seem potentially anachronistic in view of 2022 events. Regardless, “Adriatic” is a fascinating read, for its tour of the bordering polities, if not its prophecies.

“Adriatic: A Concert of Civilizations at the End of the Modern Age,” by Robert D. Kaplan, Random House, 2022, 368 pages, $28.99 (Hardcover), $13.99 (Ebook), $27.56 (Audiobook)

This review was written by Mark Lardas who writes at Ricochet as Seawriter. Mark Lardas, an engineer, freelance writer, historian, and model-maker, lives in League City, TX. His website is marklardas.com.

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There are 6 comments.

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  1. Gary McVey Contributor
    Gary McVey
    @GaryMcVey

    A good review, Seawriter! Robert D. Kaplan may not be a prophet, but he’s a smart, well educated writer. 

    • #1
  2. HeavyWater Inactive
    HeavyWater
    @HeavyWater

    Seawriter:

     

    Kaplan is a globalist. He believes China will become an enduring superpower and Russia will be restored to its prior superpower status, leading to a multipolar world.

    Another point of view I have read regarding the future of China is that they will grow old before they grow rich.  Their working age population is has been on the decline since 2015.  

    But maybe Kaplan will be proven correct.  

     

    • #2
  3. Seawriter Contributor
    Seawriter
    @Seawriter

    HeavyWater (View Comment):

    Seawriter:

    Kaplan is a globalist. He believes China will become an enduring superpower and Russia will be restored to its prior superpower status, leading to a multipolar world.

    Another point of view I have read regarding the future of China is that they will grow old before they grow rich. Their working age population is has been on the decline since 2015.

    But maybe Kaplan will be proven correct.

    Perhaps. I think the zero-Covid response in China is doing serious damage. 

    • #3
  4. Sisyphus Member
    Sisyphus
    @Sisyphus

    The brutal, politically motivated lockdown of Shanghai, ostensibly to check a Covid outbreak but actually to suppress and terrify a rival political clique based there in the run-up to Xi’s bid for emperor for life. If Xi succeeds, China will be even more brutally and blunderfully run for the next generation as the last, and our elites will be firmly in the CCP pocket until American sovereignty is somehow restored to American citizens. 

    • #4
  5. colleenb Member
    colleenb
    @colleenb

    Sounds interesting. For a history of the area, I recommend Agents of Empire about the Bruni family. They were variously diplomats, priests, and soldiers for the Venetians. 

    • #5
  6. Hartmann von Aue Member
    Hartmann von Aue
    @HartmannvonAue

    HeavyWater (View Comment):

    Seawriter:

     

    Kaplan is a globalist. He believes China will become an enduring superpower and Russia will be restored to its prior superpower status, leading to a multipolar world.

    Another point of view I have read regarding the future of China is that they will grow old before they grow rich. Their working age population is has been on the decline since 2015.

    But maybe Kaplan will be proven correct.

     

    The argument that Russia will be restored is looking increasingly incredible- in the truest sense of the word. In …75 days now…they have not secured Kiev, Karchiv or Mariupol and the Ukrainians may have even driven them out of artillery range of Karchiv over the last four days. As a friend of mine put it, this is akin to Mexico holding off the U.S. at Tijuana for over two months. The lesson for the world is that the vaunted Russian military is if not the paperest of tigers, certainly in the running for that title. 

    • #6
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