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Review: The Next 100 Years

Just finished this fascinating book by George Friedman. It fails my first test of a book that purports to be non-fiction–it lacks a bibliography, collection of endnotes, or any other source citation mechanism–but since most of it describes events and trends that have not yet occurred, I can see how including one may have seemed superfluous.

I don’t have the macroeconomic or geopolitical background to really critique Friedman’s predictions. What I can say is that he knows well how to construct a convincing narrative and apply it to the actions and strategies of nations and power blocs in a way that is entirely compatible with what I do know of the world.

I do have a few quibbles. The first is that he’s obviously never talked to a programmer about elegance in code; he asserts that “functionality is the only standard. That a line of code could be appreciated not for its use but for its intrinsic beauty is inconceivable.” The second is that he apparently counts in base 9; the book runs from now through 2090.

There are other minor instances where he applies questionable logic in support of a point he wants to make, but there is nothing blatantly implausible. He’s quick to point out that this is a book of extrapolations and predictions, and that he can defend only the more general conclusions and trends he identifies. He then goes on to predict events in detail, because it’s a better story that way.

It takes a certain bravery to assert the nature of the future and give reasons, and Friedman possesses it. This is a fun book to read now, and I imagine it’ll be even more fun for my grandkids to discover on a dusty bookshelf in a century and chuckle over what he got right, and what he didn’t.

George Friedman, The Next 100 Years (Amazon)

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