Robert Kaplan said he knew the mixing of genres in “Earning the Rockies” ran the risk of alienating some readers. Parts of the book read like a travelogue, while others delve into foreign policy and geopolitics. But that was intentional, he told the PBS NewsHour:
“I fiercely believe that without a deep appreciation of landscape and geography, all foreign policy discussions run the risk of unreal abstraction. But without an appreciation of those same foreign policy discussions, geography and landscape lose some of their meaning.”
For role models for “Earning the Rockies,” Kaplan read historians and travelers who explored both the landscape and politics, and the ways they intertwine. Here are five of his favorite writers whose books provide a rich sense of place:
1. John Gunther’s post-World War II “Inside” books
“Inside USA,” “Inside Africa,” “Inside Europe,” and “Inside Latin America” are dated but also timeless, as they are the apex of the generalist’s style, encompassing every facet of these places, missing from the deep-dive specialist writing of today that has its own merits, but has a much narrower focus.
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