The Post-American World would be the first book I read of Fareed Zakaria, who seems to be very knowledgeable in the world scene.

The book, instead of talking about what the post-American world would look like, talks about what America can do to retain its position as the world leader. It is possible to hyper-summarize this entire book in two pages or less, but that would take away all the details and perspective of how economy, politics, militia, culture — all of this play a role in the status of a country. His secret recipe for America’s success reads awfully similar to Management 101 — do not micromanage, pick your battle, lead by action, etc…However, placing these seemingly simple management lessons as a solution for retaining the status as a super-power in a world occupied by 6.5 billion (and growing) people, requires enormous amount of vision, experience and academic skills. His warning is that the America can learn a heck of a lot, by just not repeating the same mistakes Britain made that eventually led to them losing the world leader status. His contrast of America’s situation being the opposite of Britain (Britain was politically strong and economically weak; America is the other way round) is a very good perspective.

I am going to rate this book between 3 and 3.5 (on a scale of 5). If you are somebody that is generally informed on the grander political themes that drive the world today, if you are aware of competitiveness issues and how they affect countries on a large scale, how hunger translates as motivation for success etc…, you will find this book insightful, but not astounding. However, if somebody is generally uninformed, with very outdated views of America, this book will come very handy as a wake-up call.

Personally to me, there are many questions this book sought to answer (and did reasonably well): what does it mean to modernize without westernize? Are they two different phenomenons really? Exactly what led to the power shift happen between Britain and America? But the author, IMO, failed to give a tasting of what the post-American world would look like.

Since this is not a daunting read, I recommend this book to most people — however your net new learning will only be incremental, and will not be of an order of magnitude.