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Publisher's Summary

As a boy, Robert D. Kaplan listened to his truck-driver father's evocative stories about traveling across America as a young man, travels in which he learned to understand the country from a ground-level perspective.

In Earning the Rockies, Kaplan undertakes his own cross-country journey to recapture an appreciation and understanding of American geography that is often lost in the jet age. The history of westward expansion is examined here in a new light - not just a story of genocide and individualism, but also of communalism and a respect for the limits of a water-starved terrain - to understand how settling the West shaped our national character, and how it should shape our foreign policy. In his clear-eyed and moving meditations on the American landscape, Kaplan lays bare the roots of American greatness - the fact that we are a nation, empire, and continent all at once - and how we must reexamine those roots, and understand our geography, in order to confront the challenging, anarchic world that Kaplan describes. Earning the Rockies is a short epic, a story both personal and global in scope.

©2017 Robert D. Kaplan (P)2017 HighBridge, a division of Recorded Books

What listeners say about Earning the Rockies

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • BotakTree
  • 09-03-17

Magnificent book that found a great narrator!

The narration is first-rate! The narrator most likely very much enjoys the book himself.

6 people found this helpful

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  • Ronald
  • 05-02-17

Thought-provoking extended essay.

What was the most compelling aspect of this narrative?

I love even theoretical connections between geography and the course of history, and Kaplan loves to generate theories in this realm

5 people found this helpful

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  • Expat back home
  • 09-10-18

American Exceptionalism and it’s implications

This is it interesting and impressive book. Kaplan follows a long tradition of American writers and tries to understand America by traveling the country. He does not interview Americans as he travels across the country. He just listens.
In the end it’s a book about American geography, it’s implications and it’s exceptionalism. Kaplan clearly has an agenda. As a realist/conservative he thinks America needs to be more attentive to its origins. He ties this to the frontier and American pragmatism.

Whether or not you agree with his arguments at the end of the book about what America should do in it’s international relations and foreign policy, the book is a thought-provoking analysis of who we are, how we got here, and where we will likely fall.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Helpful Reviewer
  • 10-01-20

A frozen perspective

This book is unworthy of the time it takes to read/listen to it; emblematic of an author with a frozen, adolescent and undeveloped perspective who yet insists on pummeling the reader/listener with faux academic authority. I used to think that historians that fail to inform their work with real experience, robust self-examination, and rigorous analysis were simply a waste of energy, but now see that there mere publication reinforces the suggestion that such ideas actually have merit or even accurate. There are so, so many better books on America and American history, westward expansion, geography and ethnography.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Robert
  • 02-12-18

Interesting but superficial

An interesting perspective on the American West that frequently dovetails with my own. But the sketches of places visited are often superficial and by the end look like an excuse for a foreign policy screed that is sometimes off the mark.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Todd
  • 15-09-21

Liked the ending but only ties loosely to geography

Author’s main point and conclusion is that the US still has a pivotal role in the world as the largest liberal power. It is democracy and capitalism (not always perfectly) that brought people out of poverty, gave everybody a voice, and stopped fascism in Europe. These accomplishments can not be understated and the ideals behind them need to continue. He tried to loosely tie our ideals to our geography - particularly the frontier. I believe there is some of that but it’s more driven by the people. As a nation of immigrants we self selected to come here. Finally, I can do without him calling all the people in red states obese and those in blue states fit and well dressed as he traveled through the country.

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  • Anne Marie Candido
  • 14-09-21

Informative with a unique geographical perspective

Very interesting, with insights into US geography the reader would never have thought of, but which certainly ring true

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  • R. G. Pickering
  • 26-09-18

Observations of a Traveler

This was a gentle book which easily lulled me to sleep. I enjoyed his observations about the history and the history production of the places he traveled.

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  • BombasticPossum
  • 06-02-17

Nothing really groundbreaking

For anyone who has learned about American Geography, this really isn't going to present you with any new info.

2 people found this helpful