The World

A Brief Introduction

An invaluable primer from Richard Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations, that will help anyone, expert and nonexpert alike, navigate a time in which many of our biggest challenges come from the world beyond our borders.

Foreign policy analyses written by CFR fellows and published by the trade presses, academic presses, or the Council on Foreign Relations Press.


Like it or not, we live in a global era, in which what happens thousands of miles away has the ability to affect our lives. This time, it is a Coronavirus known as COVID-19, which originated in a Chinese city many had never heard of but has spread to the corners of the earth. Next time it could well be another infectious disease from somewhere else. Twenty years ago it was a group of terrorists trained in Afghanistan and armed with box-cutters who commandeered four airplanes and flew them into buildings (and in one case a field) and claimed nearly three thousand lives. Next time it could be terrorists who use a truck bomb or gain access to a weapon of mass destruction. In 2016 hackers in a nondescript office building in Russia traveled virtually in cyberspace to manipulate America’s elections. Now they have burrowed into our political life. In recent years, severe hurricanes and large fires linked to climate change have ravaged parts of the earth; in the future we can anticipate even more serious natural disasters. In 2008, it was a global financial crisis caused by mortgage-backed securities in America, but one day it could well be a financial contagion originating in Europe, Asia, or Africa. This is the new normal of the twenty-first century.

Condensing so much complexity into a lucid 400 pages is no small accomplishment.
New York Times

The World is designed to provide readers of any age and experience with the essential background and building blocks they need to make sense of this complicated and interconnected world. It will empower them to manage the flood of daily news. Readers will become more informed, discerning citizens, better able to arrive at sound, independent judgments. While it is impossible to predict what the next crisis will be or where it will originate, those who read The World will have what they need to understand its basics and the principal choices for how to respond.

In short, this book will make readers more globally literate and put them in a position to make sense of this era. Global literacy—knowing how the world works—is a must, as what goes on outside a country matters enormously to what happens inside. Although the United States is bordered by two oceans, those oceans are not moats. And the so-called Vegas rule—what happens there stays there—does not apply in today’s world to anyone anywhere. U.S. foreign policy is uniquely American, but the world Americans seek to shape is not. Globalization can be both good and bad, but it is not something that individuals or countries can opt out of. Even if we want to ignore the world, it will not ignore us. The choice we face is how to respond. 

A clear and concise account of the history, diplomacy, economics, and societal forces that have molded the modern global system.
Foreign Affairs

We are connected to this world in all sorts of ways. We need to better understand it, both its promise and its threats, in order to make informed choices, be it as students, citizens, voters, parents, employees, or investors. To help readers do just that, The World focuses on essential history, what makes each region of the world tick, the many challenges globalization presents, and the most influential countries, events, and ideas. Explaining complex ideas with wisdom and clarity, Richard Haass’s The World is an evergreen book that will remain relevant and useful as history continues to unfold.

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Reviews and Endorsements

Condensing so much complexity into a lucid 400 pages is no small accomplishment.

New York Times

A clear and concise account of the history, diplomacy, economics, and societal forces that have molded the modern global system.

Foreign Affairs

The World explains important concepts clearly and fairly and offers an excellent overview of global affairs.... Those who read and even study The World will be educated, stimulated and challenged. They will become better global citizens.

Washington Diplomat

One core premise of this necessary book is that the three great scourges of our time—COVID-19, nuclear weaponry, and climate change—cannot be resolved without a global outlook. Dr. Richard Haass, author of The World and fourteen other books, is here to teach us. This book is aimed at a wide, inclusive audience. Haass’s style is fulsome yet facile. He guides us on a rich, region-by-region world tour. The most fascinating feature of each treatment is looking ahead—his fearless, in some cases, provocative analysis of what he feels is in store for a given corner of the globe.

Providence Journal

This is the book that explains how the world really works, how it is changing, and why it matters. Just what every citizen and student needs to read.

Madeleine Albright

This terrific work delivers completely on its promise to provide readers with a basic understanding of the world. It is hard to imagine anyone more suited for this ambitious task than Richard Haass. His narrative flair, depth of experience, and wide-ranging knowledge sparkle on every page.

Doris Kearns Goodwin

This book is a superb introduction to the world and global issues. Richard Haass has been able to write something that is brief, readable and yet comprehensive—marked throughout by his trademark intelligence and common sense.

Fareed Zakaria

Richard Haass has just reinvented the primer—something for everyone to read this summer. High school students, undergrads, grads in all disciplines and a few people in the nation’s capital will benefit.

Rachel Kyte, Dean, The Fletcher School, Tufts University

An essential book—just what the world needs now to put things in perspective.

Ray Dalio

Richard Haass explains the world to us in a thoughtful, comprehensive and accessible way. At a time when our world is changing faster than ever—and becoming more interconnected and complex—it has never been more important to be globally literate. Our future depends on it.

Arne Duncan

We are all being bombarded by strong views designed to conjure up emotion over sound judgement, which makes it very grounding to have The World. It is a great read for anyone who wants to have a sound background before deciding to retweet the latest crazy article making the rounds!

Kal Penn

This is a great book that every high school and college student, as well as teachers and parents, should read. An indispensable resource to educate global citizens.

Professor Fernando M. Reimers, Harvard Graduate School of Education

In the News

A Short Guide to 'The World'

New York Times Book Review

Are We Losing Ground in the World?

Conversations with Jim Zirin

Foreign Policy By Example: Crisis at Home Makes the United States Vulnerable Abroad

Foreign Affairs

Richard Haass on U.S. global leadership post-pandemic


The World According to Haass


CFR Educators Webinar: "The World: A Brief Introduction"

Council on Foreign Relations

What is America’s Place in the New World Order Post COVID-19?

Amanpour and Company

American Diplomat Richard Haass on the State of 'The World'


Are the U.S. and China headed for a new Cold War?

Fareed Zakaria GPS

Nothing is Inevitable. With Guest Dr. Richard Haass

The Michael Steele Podcast

Haass: Successful global virus response will come from working with others

Andrea Mitchell Reports

Dr. Richard Haass Explains the World

Kickass News

Richard Haass Talks New Book, The World: A Brief Introduction, with Dan Rather

Dan Rather's America

How Will Coronavirus Pandemic Change The Way We See The World?

NPR Morning Edition

Richard Haass: It's not just an economic recession. It's a democratic recession.

Yahoo Finance

Richard Haass On His New Book: “The World: A Brief Introduction”

The Hugh Hewitt Show

Will the pandemic forever change America's place on the world stage?

Next Question with Katie Couric

“The World: A Brief Introduction,” with Richard Haass

Defense One

Richard Haass on the Future of Europe, America's Global Relationship, U.S. Election Risks

Bloomberg Markets

Navigating the Global Era, With Richard Haass

The President's Inbox

Deglobalization and Its Discontents

Project Syndicate

The Week That Everything Changed At The White House

Meet the Press

A Cold War With China Would Be a Mistake

Wall Street Journal

The Pandemic Will Accelerate History Rather Than Reshape It

Foreign Affairs

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