The World Island
Eurasian Geopolitics and the Fate of the West
by Alexandros Petersen
February 2011, 176pp, 6 1/8x9 1/4
1 volume, Praeger

Hardcover: 978-0-313-39137-8
$42, £33, 37€, A58
eBook Available: 978-0-313-39138-5
Please contact your preferred eBook vendor for pricing.

Sir Halford Mackinder, the father of geopolitics, argued that the power that controls Eurasia controls the world. How can the West ensure that the struggle for this fundamental theater in world politics is resolved in favor of Western democratic governance—without the autocratic domination of Eurasia?

Both a historical analysis and a call to arms, this is the comprehensive policy guide to understanding and engaging in the geopolitics of Eurasia.

The 20th century was dominated by three visions of Eurasian geopolitics: “The World Island,” “Containment,” and “Prometheism.” The World Island: Eurasian Geopolitics and the Fate of the West posits a fourth vision of Eurasian geopolitics: the 21st-century Geopolitical Strategy for Eurasia.

Through an original and comprehensive analysis and synthesis of the ideas of Sir Halford Mackinder, George Kennan, and Jozef Pilsudski, this title reestablishes fundamental Western strategy objectives. It analyzes the state of and potential for Western engagement with China, Afghanistan, Turkey, Russia, and other Eurasian states and sets out what is at stake for the West in the Eurasian theater. Promoting a robust strategy to further and protect essential Western values, the author argues for the development of trade and energy links, coupled with the promotion of good governance and the facilitation of policy independence, integration, and Western-orientation among the Eurasian nations.


  • Five maps showing Mackinder's Heartland of the World Island, Kennan's Containment of the World Island, Pilsudski's Prometheism, Pilsudski's Intermarum, and Petersen's 21st Century Geopolitical Strategy for Eurasia
  • Illustrations
  • A chronology
Alexandros Petersen is director of research at the Henry Jackson Society: Project for Democratic Geopolitics and senior fellow with the Eurasia Center at the Atlantic Council, Washington, DC. An internationally recognized scholar of grand strategy and energy geopolitics, Petersen frequently contributes to outlets such as Foreign Affairs, the Economist, and the International Herald Tribune.


"A lively, diverse book about a lesser-known area of the world, it offers a challenging set of policy recommendations with the backup of the work of earlier realist thinkers."—Choice, October 1, 2011

“A sweeping, succinct and convincing argument for Transatlantic unity. With Europe’s energy needs increasing, the emergence of China, the uncertainty of Russia’s future, and NATO’s involvement in Afghanistan Petersen makes clear that we ignore Eurasia at our peril. For those who want to understand the vital importance of Eurasia Petersen's strategy could not have come at a better time."—Dr. Liam Fox, British Secretary of State for Defence (2010- )

"With scholarly verve and a clear analytical eye, Alexandros Petersen revisits some of the great geopolitical theorists of the past two centuries. He shows why grand strategy and geography still matter in Europe and Eurasia and argues convincingly that the political tectonics of this part of the world continue to shape foreign policymaking. The World Island will be of interest to anyone who cares about the peoples and fractured polities of the former Soviet space."—Charles King, Professor and Chairman of the Faculty, School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University and author of The Ghost of Freedom: A History of the Caucasus

"Alexandros Petersen has clearly captured the 'new world order' that is evolving in the early years of the 21st Century. Alexandros' vivid description of the rise of the East in the Global geo-strategic landscape offers Western policy makers a prescriptive for what must be addressed if Western powers intend to remain influential in a multi-polar world."—General Charles "Chuck" F. Wald, former Deputy Commander, United States European Command

“Insightful and disconcerting analysis: essential reading for anyone concerned with Western security”.—Edward Lucas, International Editor, The Economist; bestselling Author of The New Cold War

"Too many post-modern thinkers of the past few decades have ignored the fundamentals of geopolitics. However, the world is never post-geography -- and the fundamental rooting of power and purpose in geography and geopolitics is a bedrock of any thinking about foreign relations. Add to that calculus of power the importance of ideas and institutions, such as those that have animated the West and its commensurate rise over the past six centuries, and one has a framework for thinking about what is next in the global order. Petersen offers exactly such a framework, in a digestible and useful way. The control of the Eurasian landmass and especially America's role in that formula will determine much of the shape of geopolitics for the next century. This book enlightens us to the nature of that challenge."—Dr. John Hillen, former U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs

"Recalling--and analyzing--the ideas of such great geopolitical thinkers as Mackinder, Mahan and Kennan, Alex Petersen demonstrates that current developments in Central Asia will have strategic consequences for global order. It is a controversial, but extremely well-argued, conclusion."—Ambassador Richard Burt, Chairman, Global Zero, USA

"With this book, Alex Petersen has firmly established himself as a leading scholar of Eurasia. While one can disagree with his conclusions, one cannot but agree that the rare combination of deep historical understanding, fluency in contemporary regional dynamics, and sharp policy analysis on display in The World Island make it a must-read."—Samuel Charap, Fellow, Center for American Progress

"In his riveting review of grandmasters from Mackinder and Mahan to Kennan, and by analyzing the Eurasian chessboard from the Baltic Sea to the Pacific, Alexandros Petersen has crafted a formidable case for why the United States and its allies must study and practice the fine art of Eurasian geopolitics."—Ariel Cohen, PhD, Senior Research Fellow in Russian and Eurasian Studies and International Energy Policy, The Heritage Foundation

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