• Aftershocks

  • Pandemic Politics and the End of the Old International Order
  • By: Colin Kahl, Thomas Wright
  • Narrated by: Robert Petkoff
  • Length: 16 hrs and 56 mins
  • 4.3 out of 5 stars (16 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

2021 Financial Times Books of the Year

This program includes a bonus conversation with the authors.

Two of America's leading national security experts offer a definitive account of the global impact of COVID-19 and the political shock waves it will have on the United States and the world order in the 21st century. 

“Informed by history, reporting, and a truly global perspective, this is an indispensable first draft of history and blueprint for how we can move forward.” (Ben Rhodes)

The COVID-19 pandemic killed millions, infected hundreds of millions, and laid bare the deep vulnerabilities and inequalities of our interconnected world. The accompanying economic crash was the worst since the Great Depression, with the International Monetary Fund estimating that it will cost over $22 trillion in global wealth over the next few years. Over two decades of progress in reducing extreme poverty was erased, just in the space of a few months. Already fragile states in every corner of the globe were further hollowed out. The brewing clash between the United States and China boiled over and the worldwide contest between democracy and authoritarianism deepened. It was a truly global crisis necessitating a collective response - and yet international cooperation almost entirely broke down, with key world leaders hardly on speaking terms.

Colin Kahl and Thomas Wright's Aftershocks offers a riveting and comprehensive account of one of the strangest and most consequential years on record. Drawing on interviews with officials from around the world and extensive research, the authors tell the story of how nationalism and major power rivalries constrained the response to the worst pandemic in a century. They demonstrate the myriad ways in which the crisis exposed the limits of the old international order and how the reverberations from COVID-19 will be felt for years to come.

A Macmillan Audio production from St. Martin's Press

"COVID-19 has fundamentally changed the international order, and Aftershocks is essential reading for anyone who wants to understand what that means for the future. Written by two of America’s leading strategists, this ambitious and engaging book puts the pandemic in historical context and makes an important case for how, in the wake of this crisis, we can build a better international system." (Former secretary of state Madeleine K. Albright)

©2021 Colin Kahl and Thomas Wright (P)2021 Macmillan Audio

Critic Reviews

“National security experts Colin Kahl and Thomas Wright provide a clear-eyed look at the devastating impact that COVID-19 had on the world’s political stage.” (Variety

“If you want to understand how and why the pandemic is reshaping the international order and revealing the dangers of unchecked nationalism, Aftershocks is the place to start. Informed by history, reporting, and a truly global perspective, this is an indispensable first draft of history and blueprint for how we can move forward.“ (Ben Rhodes, former deputy national security advisor to President Obama, and author of The World as It Is

"A timely, insightful and sobering book by two of the most astute current observers of the United States role in international affairs. The analysis should give everyone who cares about the conduct of American foreign policy pause for thought. Their recommendations offer a critical path forward for future U.S. Administrations." (Fiona Hill, former National Security Council official and senior fellow at Brookings Institute) 

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    3 out of 5 stars

Useful overview. In some ways already obsolete.

This book might be very useful for someone looking for an overview of the early period of the Covid pandemic and related geopolitics as seen from a liberal internationalist American perspective. The book has no new ideas of its own, but it offers a good summary of previous thought on this topic. The events recounted in the book have already been over taken by new developments in some cases, but might be of historical interest for readers looking to immerse themselves in the early pandemic time period.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 09-04-21

Very good analysis of Covid-19 and IR

Very good analysis of Covid-19 and it's impact on international relations. Covers all world regions and many countries, but with a focus on US and China, and Europe to a lesser extent. I recommend reading/ listening.
I would have given 5 stars but in parts it was a little left leaning, and pro-US. it isn't thrown down you throat, but it isn't always even handed. Also they take a trip down history with the 1918 pandemic and WWI and WWII. But analysis of lessons to be drawn from history was a little lacking.
Still a great book.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 10-24-21

skipping audio from chapter 4

Enjoyable story, good narration, but the skipping audio is frustrating. Not quite sure why 15 words are required

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  • Anonymous User
  • 09-25-21

This is such a valuable and well thought about book

I’ve read quite a few books on the concept of a post covid world, but few really examined the events that occurred since the outbreak became a pandemic and how the loss of US leadership under trump but also leading up to him really set the stage for a global failure, the book is not only critical of the US response and failure to lead multilaterally but also that of China’s secrecy it’s hyper sensitive approach to diplomacy and the overall failure of the EU and a governing single market system to collectively manage the crisis, leading member states to go their own path. The book elegantly and soberingly communicates the plight of developing nations and the struggles for their governments and their citizens to survive and manage the crisis, and how they have been worse hit, it’s a significant reminder living in the west to the privilege and luck we have access to centralised banks that can keep people afloat and that we have the capacity to safely social distance.
The book also explores deeply the vaccine process from a scientific collaboration to the distribution via a nationalist approach by individual nations that has surely led to this crisis being a greater global catastrophe. We need collectivism to deal with global crises, and the trumps and the Xi, and Jair’s of the world and their authoritarian style populisms enabled by media and corrupt politicians have surely left a vacuum for leadership. And also shows that without a collective approach the global order fractures and it’s the citizens of this world that suffer most. We also need these global collectives to address other systemic threats like the possibility of nuclear proliferation and of course climate change. These will define this century. I highly recommend this book. But it hasn’t left me hopeful for the remainder of this century if current trends continue.