The Ends of the Earth: From Togo to Turkmenistan, from Iran by Robert D. Kaplan

By Robert D. Kaplan

Having drawn a startlingly prescient portrait of the Bosnian disaster in his bestseller, Balkan Ghosts, Robert Kaplan now travels extra generally and ambitiously. during this gritty travel de strength of trip writing and political reportage, he covers an arc from West Africa to Southeast Asia, throughout an international within which realms are giving strategy to warring nationalities and the place metastasizing populations compete for dwindling assets. 6 maps.

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Extra resources for The Ends of the Earth: From Togo to Turkmenistan, from Iran to Cambodia, a Journey to the Frontiers of Anarchy

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Other soldiers came to the truck door, demanding that I order Simeon and Abdul to let them ride in the back with the wheat and soya. This was an “army” without vehicles—rather, an armed rabble without vehicles. The whole concept of military aid to states like this now struck me as criminal. It was like arming a gang whose khaki uniforms were the equivalent of street-warrior insignia. While trying to reason with these young men holding guns, I spotted some four-wheel-drive Toyotas belonging to Western relief officials and diplomats, their windows rolled up, breeze easily through the roadblock.

It was a bit like being pulled underwater: You just waded close enough to the crowd until one of the boys grabbed your arm and pulled you over to a window opening in the barracks, where an immigration official sat. I thought of what Ryszard Kapuscinski wrote about this border in 1965: robin-bobin “At the border between Ghana and Togo there was a large padlocked gate, and when I drove up, a policeman wandered around it for a considerable time, looking for the key. ” The immigration officer said I needed an exit permit from the Ministry of the Interior to leave Togo.

The tortured metal hulk of the truck, half concealed by all the sacks, had caved to the ground, splitting what was left of the tire. Some youths appeared, wearing baseball caps and cheaply made sneakers without laces. They immediately jumped onto the truck, and helped us unload enough of the supplies so that the tire could be replaced. The jack proved to be inadequate. We needed a bed of rocks to raise the back end of the truck sufficiently to slip the tire off. The whole process took close to two hours, giving me time to look around the village, which consisted of about twenty-five wattle huts and collapsing, fire-trap storefronts, hot and dusty.

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