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A not-so-prophetic book: The Post-American World by Fareed Zakaria

October 26, 2009

Passing through Newark airport (NY) yesterday a book caught my eye, so I bought it. The cover promised a feat of geopolitical prophecy and a multiple award-winning work. I am referring to the paperback edition of The Post-American World by Fareed Zakaria. The new preface to the 2009 edition was interesting, offering a fluent account of the 2008 economic meltdown. Alas, as I moved on to the body of the text – presumably written in 2007 — it turned out that the author had not anticipated the meltdown, but rather forecast the continued rise in the economic fortunes of most of the Planet, particularly the so-called emerging economies. Yet there is absolutely no indication of this lack of foresight* in the new preface or on the cover.

Serves me right, for buying on impulse.

PS. Seriously now, shouldn’t forecasters who get it wrong acknowledge it? Surely these failures are as instructive as the successes? And incidentally, how can a book that has only just been published become an instant feat of futurology, as happened to this book in 2008?

*I added this phrase to the original blog post on 27 October 2009.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. larry c wilson permalink
    October 27, 2009 3:18 am

    Do pundits ever admit their failures?

    • October 27, 2009 1:49 pm

      Seldom, it seems to me, Larry. Perhaps someone should do a blog post on those rare occasions in which pundits do admit that they got it wrong.

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