From a brilliant Brookings Institution expert, an “important” (The Wall Street Journal) and “penetrating historical and political study” (Nature) of the critical role that oceans play in the daily struggle for global power, in the bestselling tradition of Robert Kaplan’s The Revenge of Geography.
For centuries, oceans were the chessboard on which empires battled for supremacy. But in the nuclear age, air power and missile systems dominated our worries about security, and for the United States, the economy was largely driven by domestic production, with trucking and railways that crisscrossed the continent serving as the primary modes of commercial transit.
All that has changed, as nine-tenths of global commerce and the bulk of energy trade is today linked to sea-based flows. A brightly painted forty-foot steel shipping container loaded in Asia with twenty tons of goods may arrive literally anywhere else in the world; how that really happens and who actually profits from it show that the struggle for power on the seas is a critical issue today.
Now, in vivid, closely observed prose, Bruce Jones conducts us on a fascinating voyage through the great modern ports and naval bases—from the vast container ports of Hong Kong and Shanghai to the vital naval base of the American Seventh Fleet in Hawaii to the sophisticated security arrangements in the Port of New York. Along the way, the book illustrates how global commerce works, that we are amidst a global naval arms race, and why the oceans are so crucial to America’s standing going forward.
As Jones reveals, the three great geopolitical struggles of our time—for military power, for economic dominance, and over our changing climate—are playing out atop, within, and below the world’s oceans. The essential question, he shows, is this: who will rule the waves and set the terms of the world to come?
About the Author
Bruce D. Jones directs the Project on International Order and Strategy of the Foreign Policy at the Brookings Institution, where for four years he was also vice president for foreign policy. He has lived and worked in Asia, Africa, and Europe, including serving with UN operations in Kosovo and the Middle East. He has documented the changing dynamics of world power in several previous books about international affairs. He has been a senior advisor to the World Bank and has lectured or been a nonresident fellow at Princeton, Stanford, Yale, and New York University.
“An important book about foreign policy. . . . deftly diagrams the connections between economic policy and national security.” —Wall Street Journal
"[A] penetrating historical and political study.” —Nature
“Beautifully crafted. . . . Read this book to come away with a deeper understanding of why the world’s oceans are both vital and connected to core defense, economic, and environmental security.” —War on the Rocks
"Bruce Jones has written a timely and important reminder that, with all due respect to sophisticated 21st century cyber weapons, good old-fashioned naval power, enhanced with these new technologies, remains crucial to our collective future. . . . one of the (all-too) rare works that foreign policy wonks can share with people who never read these kinds of books." —Ian Bremmer, president and founder of Eurasia Group
“Nothing short of a masterwork of illumination. . . . This is Sapiens for the seas; there is true knowledge on every page.” —Evan Osnos, winner of the National Book Award and author of The Age of Ambition
“Bruce Jones vividly shows how what happens on the oceans determines so much of what happens on land.” —Daniel Yergin, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of The New Map
“Both as writing and analysis, To Rule the Waves is a masterpiece.” —Michael McFaul, Stanford University