• Adriatic

  • A Concert of Civilizations at the End of the Modern Age
  • By: Robert D. Kaplan
  • Narrated by: Arthur Morey
  • Length: 11 hrs and 26 mins
  • 4.4 out of 5 stars (28 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

“[An] elegantly layered exploration of Europe’s past and future . . . a multifaceted masterpiece.”—The Wall Street Journal

“A lovely, personal journey around the Adriatic, in which Robert Kaplan revisits places and peoples he first encountered decades ago.”—Peter Frankopan, author of The Silk Roads 

In this insightful travelogue, Robert D. Kaplan, geopolitical expert and best-selling author of Balkan Ghosts and The Revenge of Geography, turns his perceptive eye to a region that for centuries has been a meeting point of cultures, trade, and ideas. He undertakes a journey around the Adriatic Sea, through Italy, Slovenia, Croatia, Montenegro, Albania, and Greece, to reveal that far more is happening in the region than most news stories let on. Often overlooked, the Adriatic is in fact at the center of the most significant challenges of our time, including the rise of populist politics, the refugee crisis, and battles over the control of energy resources. And it is once again becoming a global trading hub that will determine Europe’s relationship with the rest of the world as China and Russia compete for dominance in its ports. 

Kaplan explores how the region has changed over his three decades of observing it as a journalist. He finds that to understand both the historical and contemporary Adriatic is to gain a window on the future of Europe as a whole, and he unearths a stark truth: The era of populism is an epiphenomenon—a symptom of the age of nationalism coming to an end. Instead, the continent is returning to alignments of the early modern era as distinctions between East and West meet and break down within the Adriatic countries and ultimately throughout Europe. 

With a brilliant cross-pollination of history, literature, art, architecture, and current events, in Adriatic, Kaplan demonstrates that this unique region that exists at the intersection of civilizations holds revelatory truths for the future of global affairs.

©2022 Robert D. Kaplan (P)2022 Random House Audio

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Disappointing

More of a bibliography of books about the Adriatic than a history or travelogue of the region. Narrator is like the most boring college professor you ever had.

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Good Observations and Hidden Gems

I eagerly anticipated reading this book, as I loved reading Balkan Ghosts so many years ago. However, I was disappointed. The book for me was a long slog, even after eliminating the three chapters before the final chapter on Corfu. I liked the idea of referencing history, literature and poetry while traveling, but it was assumed that the reader had an advanced degree from an Ivy League school and pursued a life in academia. I learned a few things by listening, how could anyone not? However, so much for me was obtuse. I simply did not have the mental scaffolding for the chapters on Central Europe, so I gave up on those chapters, because they were incomprehensible. I enjoyed the chapter on Corfu as I am Greek American and knew about most of what Kaplan referenced. I liked the bold big ideas of the book, regarding nationalism and globalization. Definitely some good concepts in the book, just a difficult read for an intelligent well educated American.

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Insightful but littered with tangents

Having read and enjoyed Balkan Ghosts, though a little turned off by the orientalism of portraying the “East” as a mysterious exotic “other,” I was happy the author actually addressed some of the criticism of that book and his attempts to do better. The discussion of East vs West in this book is much more nuanced.

That said, there are LOTS of tangents, usually almost stream of consciousness ruminations that take away from the specific location(s) discussed in a five chapter. The conversations he has with locals are not as in depth as those in Balkan Ghosts, which I think would have made this a much better book. Still found great value in the history and insights by such a well travelled and (at least in this work) self-aware author.

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  • G. R. T. Harpur
  • 06-29-22

The Adriatic and ‘identity’

I found this book stimulating, challenging and enjoyable. The mixture of history, geography, travel, art, religion, history, political theory and book reviews was ideal for me but more questionable for those looking for a narrower approach. The unifying factor was the consideration of the issue of identity. I think the book meant more to me as I was acquainted with and had visited most of the places but if I had not I could have felt the need for more ‘travel’ commentary.