It's a fairly gripping book, especially considering the geopolitical issues and the historical context. Fox, for instance, tries to find out the reason why Pakistan and India, with a shared history of 200 years of British rule, followed such different trajectories. A whole section is devoted to understanding countries like Pakistan - described as a potentially failing state - and "unstable" and "crazy" North Korea. After all, in a globalised world, Fox says, "like it or not, it is everyone's business".A good chunk of the book is devoted to oil politics and its impact. The chapter titled Gulf, Islam and the Global Crossroads is a short encapsulation of the global crude oil scenario, beginning with the history and formation of alliances such as OAPEC (Organization of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries) and later the OPEC. The jockeying done by OPEC with the West makes for fascinating reading. Many would disagree with the premise that the oil embargo, which spurred Western nations towards more oil exploration in their own territories, did not produce desired results, and some could argue the author looks upon these incidents with a western lens! Though, it would have been more insightful had the author started with the current scenario rather than taken us back to the past.
The history of Iran within this section is captivating and Fox, who delves into the Sunni-Shia divide and the tensions between the nation and the international community, succeeds in bringing an understanding of why the country is the way it is. He also delves deep into Islam - its true teaching and also its interpretations and how the world has been impacted by it.
Fox's look at the worlds, both past and present, is refreshing and highlights the understanding arising from exposure to intellectual dialogues with prominent individuals such as Tony Blair, Sir John Major, Condoleezza Rice, Robert Gates and Donald Rumsfeld. His explanation on how to meet the challenges of the new global order is perceptive. While some could feel the book is relevant in the current global situation, there could be counter-arguments that some scenarios and cultural nuances have been missed. But lest there be any doubt - this book is a must-read for students of politics.
The best part of the book is that the author doesn't get preachy and allows readers to draw their own inferences.
(The reviewer is Chairman - Board of Directors, Hindustan Powerprojects)