New Book by CFR President Richard Haass a Primer to Help Readers Better Understand Today's Interconnected World

May 12, 2020

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“This is a critical time to understand what is taking place in the world, why it is taking place, and how it will affect our lives,” writes Richard N. Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), in his latest book, The World: A Brief Introduction. The book provides anyone, expert and non-expert alike, with the essential background and building blocks they need to make sense of the global era we live in, in which what happens thousands of miles away can affect our lives.

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Global literacy—knowing how the world works—is essential, Haass argues, “because we live in a time in which what goes on outside a country matters a great deal. Borders are not impermeable. The United States is bordered by two oceans, but oceans are not moats. For better and for worse, the so-called Vegas rule—what happens there stays there—does not apply in today’s global world.” 

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World Order

Globalization

Europe

Asia

Climate Change

As the global spread of the novel coronavirus has shown, “What begins at the local level can quickly become global,” writes Haass. This time it is COVID-19. Next time it could be another infectious disease from a different corner of the world, a group of terrorists or cyber-warriors dedicated to attacking us, or a natural disaster caused by climate change. This is the new normal of the twenty-first century—one defined by globalization.

“While it is impossible to predict what the next crisis will be or where it will originate, we can be sure it will come, and those who read The World: A Brief Introduction will have what they need to understand its basics and the principal choices for how to respond,” said Haass.

He explains that understanding this era—including its promises and its threats, the many ways we’re connected to the world and to each other, and how we got here—will empower us to better navigate the headlines and manage the flood of daily news, and to make more informed choices, be it as students, citizens, voters, parents, employees, or investors. To this end, The World: A Brief Introduction focuses on essential world history, what makes each region of the world tick, the many challenges globalization presents, and the most influential countries, events, and ideas. 

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In the book’s four sections, Haass examines essential global history spanning nearly four centuries, from the Thirty Years’ War to the present; the history and dynamics of each of the world’s principal regions; global challenges, including global health, climate change, terrorism, cybersecurity, trade, and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction; and finishes by looking at what contributes to world order and what threatens it.  

“We exist in a moment where history is being made,” argues Haass, and only by learning history’s lessons can we “increase the odds that the future will improve upon the past.”

More on:

World Order

Globalization

Europe

Asia

Climate Change

Read more about the book and order your copy at https://www.cfr.org/book/world.

To interview the author, please contact Lauran Potter at 212.434.9537 or lpotter@cfr.org.

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Praise for The World: A Brief Introduction

“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 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 K. Albright

“Richard Haass explains the world to us in a thoughtful, comprehensive, and accessible way. At a time 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, all of 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

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

"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." —Fernando Reimers

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