The Next 100 Years: A Forecast for the 21st Century

The Next 100 Years: A Forecast for the 21st Century

‘THE NEXT 100 YEARS: A FORECAST FOR THE 21ST CENTURY’


JUMP TO SECTION:

OPENING LINE:

As I write this review, we are about to transition out of the year 2014 and into the year 2015. When transitions into a new year, a new decade or a new century take place it is only natural for us to try to predict what will happen next. So in that vein, I am looking at a book that was written to forecast world events throughout the 21st century.


PUBLISHER’S SUMMARY:

George Friedman, founder of Stratfor, has become a leading expert in geopolitical forecasting, sought after for his thoughtful assessments of current trends and near-future events.
In The Next 100 Years, Friedman turns his eye on the future. Drawing on a profound understanding of history and geopolitical patterns dating back to the Roman Empire, he shows that we are now, for the first time in half a millennium, experiencing the dawn of a new historical cycle.
©2009 George Friedman; (P)2009 Blackstone Audio, Inc.


THE PLOT:

I love the field of futurology. I am fascinated by any attempt to predict future events. I have read books predicting the future of physics, mobile technology, the abundance of resources, technology again and even a book about why these predictions more often than not prove to be incorrect. It is the latter book that tends to guide my assessment of future predictions and so I had it in mind when I read ‘The Next 100 Years’ by George Friedman.
Friedman scores points with me for admitting several times that he could be wrong about a lot of what he predicts will happen over the remainder of the 21st century. Friedman predicts the rise of Japan, Turkey, Poland and Mexico throughout the next century to challenge American dominance. He allows for the fact that he may get the specific countries wrong.
There are two things that Friedman believes to be a certainty. The first is that Europe will see a decline in influence over the next 100 years and that North America will be the center of global power and influence. Going along with that, he argues that the United States is not on the decline as many have predicted but is instead just beginning to reign as a global super power.
Whereas many of the books about the future tend to be more optimistic, this one I would argue is more pessimistic. In that sense, I believe it is also more realistic than most other books trying to predict the future. Friedman doesn’t believe that we are on the verge of eliminating war because he does not discount the human condition which technology will be hard pressed to overcome.
In fact, the most interesting chapter for me was Chapter 11 in which Friedman lays out a scenario for a third World War that would also see battles in space. I will not go into any spoiler territory on this event because it is the most speculative portion of the book and is definitely worth reading for yourself.
I don’t necessarily agree with every conclusion Friedman makes in the book. He estimates that a shortage of workers in the 2030s will lead to a looser immigration policy in the United States as a way to fill jobs. This is a reasonable thing to speculate on but I think this could be reduced a great deal by the use of technology to reduce or eliminate inefficiency. There are tasks today, still being performed by people that can already be done more efficiently by machines.
The fact that I don’t agree with the author on everything in his book is not a condemnation. As I said, Friedman allows himself to admit that he could get a lot of this wrong. But whether or not I agreed with him on everything does not change the fact that I found his points to be reasonable and well argued. When it comes to making a prediction about the distant future having a well thought out and reasonable argument is about the best we can expect.


THE AUTHOR:

Dr. George Friedman is the founder of Stratfor, a company specializing in global intelligence. Dr. Friedman is an expert on global geopolitics, intelligence gathering and analysis, international affairs and other fields. Given his wealth of credentials, it is not newsworthy that he argues his positions so well in the book.
Friedman’s writing style was very appealing to me. He writes in a way that is not going to go over the heads of most readers nor is he dumbing things down to reach a wider audience. Friedman has another book out which forecasts this decade. I look forward to reading that one as well because that one will be easier to judge on the predictions he makes.


THE NARRATION:

When looking up other titles narrated by William Hughes, I was not surprised to see that a majority of them fell into the nonfiction category. He has some fiction on his resume but he seems to be better suited for nonfiction in my opinion. I reserve the right to change my mind on this should I happen to listen to any of his performances of fiction.
There is not a lot of performance in his narration. It is a straightforward reading without much in the way of emotion or inflection. This is largely a result of the material he is working with as ‘The Next 100 Years’ is more analytical than emotional.
The fact that I enjoyed his performance so much even without a lot of acting is why I think he is better suited for readings of nonfiction. I would definitely listen to another book narrated by Hughes.


THE PRODUCTION:

There were no glitches or other errors to be found on the track. The track contained 15 chapter stops, one for each of the book’s 13 chapters, the introduction and the epilogue.


FINAL THOUGHTS:

Friedman makes a compelling case that the 21st century will be dominated by the United States. He lays out some challenges that our country will face that might seem crazy considering the current debates we see play out in our political system. However, as the author points out, a person alive in 1920 probably could not have imagined that Germany would be dominating Europe in 1940 given what happened in World War I and the current condition of the country.
As long as I am alive to do so, I will revisit this material to see how close Friedman came to getting it right or how badly he struck out. I think his predictions are more reasonable than most because he makes allowances for unknown factors.
It is hard to give out a grade for a book that is trying to predict the future when you don’t know how right or wrong those predictions are going to be. So my grade is representing the quality of the reading experience and the compelling arguments put forth.


QUICK FACTS:

Title Author Narrator Publisher Genre Release Date Running Time Score
The Next 100 Years: A Forecast for the 21st Century George Friedman William Hughes Blackstone Audio, Inc. History 01/27/2009 9 hours, 41 minutes 7/10

DISCLAIMER:

A copy of ‘The Next 100 Years: A Forecast for the 21st Century’ was purchased from Aubile.com for review.

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