Read Prisoners of Geography: Ten Maps That Tell You Everything You Need to Know About Global Politics by Tim Marshall Online


All leaders are constrained by geography. Their choices are limited by mountains, rivers, seas and concrete. Yes, to follow world events you need to understand people, ideas and movements – but if you don’t know geography, you’ll never have the full picture.If you’ve ever wondered why Putin is so obsessed with Crimea, why the USA was destined to become a global superpower,All leaders are constrained by geography. Their choices are limited by mountains, rivers, seas and concrete. Yes, to follow world events you need to understand people, ideas and movements – but if you don’t know geography, you’ll never have the full picture.If you’ve ever wondered why Putin is so obsessed with Crimea, why the USA was destined to become a global superpower, or why China’s power base continues to expand ever outwards, the answers are all here.In ten chapters (covering Russia; China; the USA; Latin America; the Middle East; Africa; India and Pakistan; Europe; Japan and Korea; and the Arctic), using maps, essays and occasionally the personal experiences of the widely travelled author, Prisoners of Geography looks at the past, present and future to offer an essential insight into one of the major factors that determines world history....

Title : Prisoners of Geography: Ten Maps That Tell You Everything You Need to Know About Global Politics
Author :
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ISBN : 9781783961412
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 256 Pages
Status : Available For Download
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Prisoners of Geography: Ten Maps That Tell You Everything You Need to Know About Global Politics Reviews

  • Paul Bryant
    2018-11-03 21:13

    Once I read this true crime account of this serial killer and they didn’t find the bodies, I think they got him on dna, and so they ask him what did you do with the bodies. They were wondering what genius plan of disposal the guy had come up with to make ten corpses disappear without trace. And he says I cut em up and put them out with the trash. If I couldn’t get em in the bin I put em in black bags. They just took em away, every Thursday morning. Well, you really shouldn’t laugh, but – Once I saw this programme, I can’t remember what, it’s hard to keep track what with this and that and the other, but they were talking about earthquakes and they showed this huge plain somewhere, like Iran I think, and there was a little river in the middle, and so that was the only place there was a village, everywhere else on this plain was deserted. So when the earthquake hit, it crushed the village and killed everyone there. Because of course the river was the fault line. So the only place the people could live was on the fault line. This is to show the complete fucked-up-ness of the human condition. This book goes into some considerable detail about this fuckedupness. As for instance Africa. You hear a lot about the legacy of slavery and colonialism but hah, that ain’t it. It’s harbours and rivers is your problem. Africa has got a lot of famous long rivers but they don’t join up and so you can’t sail your goods down them because every 20 miles there’s a waterfall. Very pretty but it puts the kibosh on trade. Then below the Sahara you have the tsetse fly which bites any animal you might think of as a beast of burden, like donkeys or bullocks or zebras for all I know, so they go down and die and there’s your trade gone down with them. As for the coast, it’s smooth not jagged, and that’s really a bad thing because that means hardly any natural harbours, so that means no sea trade either. This is solid stuff but not so solid when other countries are examined like Russia. Because then we are straying from geography and getting into the United States of Paranoia which is the real name of Russia, according to Tim Marshall. It’s mental geography he is now talking about. There is a North European Plain which has been the route from Europe into Russia since time began and the guy in the Kremlin is obsessed with not being invaded via this plain. And this explains the Russian buffer state thing, they have to have their buffer states or they get really frazzled. So - you're ahead of me - this in turn explains the current hoohah in Ukraine, and the previous switcheroo in Crimea. This latter has a warm water port and this may not mean much to you personally, but that’s because your ships aren’t frozen up in Murmansk for 8 months of the year. You can’t do nothing with cold water ports, you need a warm water one. All of the vastness of Russia and they don’t have a single one (ah geography), except now they do. In Europe we had WW2 and the message Europeans took from that is that was the last one, no more European wars – which has almost but not quote been true for 75 years. The Russians see that as a blip. An uncharacteristic, suspicious blip. This geography thing gets a bit repetitive – plains, mountains, rivers, plainsmountainsrivers, portsportsports, and when he gets to The Middle East (he asks the first 2 questions : Middle of what? East of what? to point out how ingrained is the eurocentricity of our western brains and maps) he is reduced to sayingthey all hate each other! You wouldn’t believe! which he has some strong data to back this up, like all of the current horror show from Morocco to Waziristan. But again, not really geography, this is psychohistory.Leonard Cohen wrote a song about the entire and increasing fuckedupness of the world called "The Future" : Gimme back the Berlin wall, gimme Stalin and St Paul, I’ve seen the future, brother, it is murder. That is the theme song for this book, which is hard to rate because it allows for no chink of hope to get through. The message is : there will be more of the same, but it will be different enough for you not to get bored. So, for instance, beheading videos – you have to admit that was old (13th century) but new (on Twitter). I must stop trying to understand the human race. It passeth all understanding.

  • Jeanette
    2018-10-23 15:56

    Outstanding!If one reads only one politico book this year, read this one. Wanting to compose a 20 paragraph reaction, at least that long upon each one of the 10 world "entities" that this book is divided into! (Not always a continent, but sometimes that nomenclature relates.) Well, I will not. Because Marshall's concise and succinctly factual is beyond my superlatives OR my summation of it, could ever be.But possibly I could make one comparison. In my youth, when exact structures of observance were taught and charted- the biological body (human or animal, or plant) was learned to naming of touch and recognition by seeing, measuring, or handling within feel of topography or dissection. Thus the first lesson, most often became accompanied by the intense mantra "Structure is for Function". Comparing this geographical analysis of forms for function for each of these 10 regions of the Earth!The forms (GEOGRAPHY) will continually replay the same questions, fears, answers, attempts for the functions of those who live there. If you have isolation upon 3 fronts, no coastline, or a coastline with no harbors or faced with immense cliffs (actually this is no coastline at all)? Or if your weather harbors ever living insect viability, or human occupation for 15 thousand millennia? Some sections I read twice. And to be completely truthful, I still do not understand some aspects of what the repercussions have evolved within the topography of Africa. I do know that I'm buying this one. And that I will get the next book for the regions he has not been able to complete in this one. He states it will be out soon.This one is for the main 10 regions of divisions in geography today: Russia, China, United States, Western Europe, Africa, The Middle East, India & Pakistan, Korea & Japan, Latin America, and lastly The Artic.If you have learned your history and politico from the stance of administration ideologies, religion, colonialism or any whole piece belief system of division or operations, you need to read this book.Because the mountain ranges, rivers, deserts, oceans will alter, change. Over great periods of time, they will. But not all that much. And structure still insists functions and outcomes in majority. Great majority proportionally. And with use of the Artic, Space and other huge changes that will occur- you will always have the human geographic restraints of your human location. This book is surprisingly current on top of it. It even has the proposed Strait of Nicaragua- which if funding by China continues, should be finished by the end of 2020.Highest recommendation by me in non-fiction category for this year, 2016. So far- and I doubt it will be beat. Read Russia and the Middle East alone if that is your tolerance level.

  • Lisa
    2018-11-01 00:16

    This is an amazing journey through the world, zooming out of particular localities and looking at the geographical shape of bigger areas that helped form the history, culture and population of the world we share. I read the first chapters on Russia, China, Europe, USA and Africa constantly nodding my head, realising that it was possible to explain many things I had thought about for long hours by analysing natural borders, rivers, mountains, vegetation, climate and distribution of agricultural opportunities. I had the feeling that my historical knowledge became deeper, and more nuanced by adding the dimension of geography. My recent reflections on Chinua Achebe were put into the context of the vast African continent and its geography. The story of I Am Malala: The Story of the Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban gained width and depth through my intense staring at the map of the borders between Pakistan, India and Afghanistan, and I learned a great deal from the historical references to that region.Then I embarked on the chapter about South America, a continent I hardly know, and was plunged into a strong childhood memory, all of a sudden, without any warning. Reading about Brazil and its complicated connections to other countries, comparing it to Argentina with its access to the Atlantic through the Rio De La Plata, I found myself repeatedly humming a song by a Swedish sailor-poet-songwriter called Evert Taube. My father used to sing his songs to me when I was little, and I still know them by heart, but I have never thought of them in terms of global geography. However, this lovely love song between a Swedish sailor and a young girl called Carmencita from Samborombom, in the Rio De La Plata area, shows exactly what this nonfiction book on geography explains in plain facts: some areas are more accessible, and enhance global communication, while others are more remote, and thus stay isolated, culturally and technologically. The Swedish sailor in the song meets the exotic young lady because his ship has access to her country, but when he wants to marry her, she refuses, telling him her father has received an offer, and she will marry a local man who owns 20,000 cows. Fritjof has to sail home again, his (doubtful) virtues and wonderful tango skills are not enough! Samborombon, en liten by förutan gata,den ligger inte långt från Rio de la Plata,nästan i kanten av den blåa Atlanten och medpampas bakom sej många hundra gröna mil,dit kom jag ridande en afton i aprilför jag ville dansa Tango.Fully aware that Swedish is not a global language, I still feel I have to copy these Evert Taube lines here, because they connected me to the big, wide world when I was a child, and now made me appreciate the accuracy of the historical impact of geography on a much more personal level. I was coming to the end of the book at this point, and Evert Taube brought it to my attention that I had actually not read anything about Scandinavia's geography yet. This is a region I consider my own, and I can't emphasise enough how astonished I was to realise that it is mentioned, at the very end, not in the chapter on Europe, or in the context of the Western Hemisphere, but as part of the ARCTIC. I had to spend a lot of time meditating on the map showing my home town well within the area circling the arctic, and reflecting on what it possibly meant to me. Also, contrary to Swedish wisdom (beware, this might be irony imported from the continent!), Norway was in the focus of the Scandinavian chapter. How could that be? I thoroughly enjoyed my own confusion at having my geography skills put into perspective like that.One last thing, before I recommend this book to anyone interested in the overarching connections between history and geography: I don't like the subtitle at all and it almost put me off trying the book!Ten Maps That tell You Everything....That made me think it must be one of those books pretending to explain the world to you in a short, poorly written bestseller style. Ten recipes that make you lose weight in two days... Ten tricks to save money when shopping...This book does NOT tell you everything, and that is good, but it gives you insight into an aspect of global developments that enhances your previous knowledge and makes you curious to learn more!Read! Despite subtitle! (And my overuse of exclamation marks!)!

  • Andrew Smith
    2018-10-16 22:54

    Have you ever thought what a complex world it is we live in? Why do some countries look to have it all whilst others seem destined to always struggle? Each country has its own history of rivalries and ancient disputes with neighbouring nations – where do these stem from? And what about the frequent border changes – why have these occurred and surely they’ve created additional tensions, haven’t they? I have an old Reader’s Digest Great World Atlas (published in 1961) and a quick perusal of the pages just covering Europe and the southern reaches of Africa is enough to tell me that many of the names therein have long ago been cast onto the geographical scrapheap. Well the good news is that this book provides the answers to these questions… and many more. Broken down into sections covering associated areas of the globe I first learnt how natural geography handed out the lottery prizes. Much of Europe, for example, is blessed by having long rivers, some of which flow into each other, creating natural vessels for moving resources around and thus significantly aiding the establishment of trading routes. Africa, on the other hand, has big rivers but they are all frequently interrupted by large waterfalls and they don’t meet up with other rivers, therefore precluding their use for large scale movement of goods. Then there’s the climate: again Africa draws the short straw (along with South America) with large areas providing a home for mosquitos which carry diseases such as Malaria and Yellow fever. And what about the land itself? Areas of Jungle, desert and high mountains have provided natural boundaries but also create problems for transporting goods and for travel. Yes, when you are born the natural lay of the land and climate will have predetermined – to an extent – how prosperous a country you will be born into.History provides the second set of answers. Some countries with natural resources of gas, oil and minerals have been able to utilise their good fortune to enrich their nation (though not necessarily the people who live there). Others have been plundered by aggressive predatory forces hell bent on helping themselves to the assets. Boundaries have been changed through occupation and particularly as a result of the World Wars. These changes were often made by lines being drawn on maps without regard to ancient groupings based on tribal and religious backgrounds – the cause of many long standing disputes and conflicts can be traced back to these actions.The great thing about this book is that the way it is organised allows these elements to be presented in a logical, organised way that not only makes perfect sense but also allows the reader to understand much of the geopolitical bickering that goes on to this very day. It’s a brilliant book and it’s bang up to date. I’d urge anyone interested in improving their knowledge of the big picture to grab a copy.

  • Dr Osama
    2018-10-31 19:07

    كتاب سجناء الجغرافيا: عشر خرائط تخبرك كل ما تحتاج معرفته عن السياسات العالمية. مؤلف الكتاب تيم مارشال. مراسل قناة سكاي نيوز البريطانية السابق والذي نقل أحداث كثير من الحروب والأخبار من دول العالم المختلفة. الطبعة الأولى 2015.يتألف الكتاب من إحدى عشر فصلا يتناول كل منها بلدا أو اقليما جغرافيا وهي كالتالي: روسيا، الصين، الولايات المتحدة الأمريكية، أوروبا الغربية، أفريقيا، الشرق الأوسط، الهند وباكستان، كوريا واليابان، أمريكا اللاتينية، والمنطقة المتجمدة الشمالية. الفكرة الرئيسية التي يناقشها الكتاب تتلخص في أن العلاقات السياسية بما تتضمنه من صراعات ومصالح وتحالفات وتغيرات يلعب العامل الجغرافي فيها دور كبير ومؤثر عبر العصور. ويقدم الكتاب معلومات غنية ومشوقة عن التاريخ والجغرافيا والاقتصاد والسياسة و الحياة الاجتماعية لكل من الأقاليم المذكورة مسبقا مع التركيز على الدور الهام للجغرافيا في تشكيل تلك العوامل. اعجبني في الكتاب أن اللغة الانجليزية موجهة للقارئ العادي. فهي واضحة ومبسطة ومعظم المصطلحات سهلة ومتداولة وليست تخصصية بدرجة عالية. كما يشمل الكتاب مجموعة من الخرائط تسهل على القارئ ربط المعلومات الجغرافية بالرسوم التوضيحية. كما يوفر الكتاب قائمة مراجع اضافية للقارئ الذي يود الإطلاع على معلومات اكثر حول موضوع معين ورد في فصول الكتاب. خلاصة الكتاب:روسيا تمتاز بأنها أكبر دولة في العالم تمتد على مدى احدى عشر خط طولي ولكنها مع ذلك تفتقر إلى الموانئ المطلة على المياه الدافئة، فمعظم الموانئ الروسية تتجمد مياهها لشهور طويلة. وصراعها مع أوكرانيا على سبيل المثال هو محاولة لإبقاء ميناء منطقة القرم تحت سيطرتها. وتتميز روسيا بثروات كبيرة من الغاز والنفط الذي تصدره عن طريق الأنابيب لجيرانها من الجمهوريات السوفيتية السابقة وعدد من دول اوروبا الشرقية والغربية وهذا الأمر يجعلها ذات سيطرة غير مباشرة على تلك الدول التي تغض الطرف عن كثير من سياسات روسيا لكي لا تتضرر مصالحها. الصين تمتاز بمجاورة عدد كبير من الدول وحدودها محمية بشكل طبيعي بتضاريس وهي ميزة لا تتوفر لدى روسيا. مشكلة الصين أنها لا تمتلك قوة بحرية حريية مؤثرة لاسيما وأن حدودها البحرية وخطوط الملاحة البحرية تتشاركها دول كثيرة أخرى وهذا يمثل خطرا على شريان اقتصادها الأهم وهو تصدير المنتجات الرخيصة لجميع دول العالم. أما أمريكا فهي أكثر الدول حظا من الناحية الجغرافية فهي تطل على المحيط الأطلسي من جهة والمحيط الهادي من جهة أخرى وليس لديها من جيران سوى كندا في الشمال والمكسيك في الجنوب. معظم حروب أمريكا تقع في أقاليم جغرافية بعيدة عنها منا يجعلها في مأمن نسبيا ولكن التكنلوجيا الحديثة كسرت حاجز الجغرافيا كما هو الحال في الهجمات الإرهابية التي وقعت في داخل أمريكا. ويتناول الكتاب موضوع هام وهو اتجاه أمريكا للاكتفاء الذاتي من النفط مع نهاية هذا العقد مما قد يغير سياساتها وتواجدها في منطقة الخليج مستقبلا. تلعب الجغرافيا السياسية دورا هاما في أوروبا والتي تتكون من عدد كبير من الدول في مساحة صغيرة نسبيا مقارنة بالولايات المتحدة او روسيا على سبيل المثال. وتتنوع ثقافات وأعراق ولغات شعوب تلك الدول التي تفصل بينها حدود جغرافية كالأنهار والجبال وتمتاز بمناخ معتدل عموما وموقع استراتيجي بين العالم القديم والجديد . وكان هذا التنوع سبب لنشوب الحروب في الماضي وتغير ذلك إلى الوصول لتحقيق الاتحاد الأوروبي في الوقت الحاضر. ولكن لاتزال هناك فجوة بين دول الشمال والجنوب ودول الشرق والغرب من حيث القوة الاقتصادية والاستقرار السياسي. كما يتطرق الكتاب إلى موضوع الهجرة الداخلية بين دول أوروبا والهجرة الخارجية من دول الشرق الأوسط وأفريقيا نحو دول اوروبا الغربية ومدى تأثير هذه الهجرات على تغيير ثقافة وسياسة وحياة أوروبا الاجتماعية. أما أفريقيا فقد يكون أحد أسباب تأخرها في اللحاق بركب التطور الاقتصادي والتكنولوجي هو انعزالها جغرافيا عن القارات الأخرى. وهذا الانعزال سببه وجود أقليم الصحراء الكبرى والأنهار الممتدة والتي لا تصلح للملاحة الطويلة لوجود الشلالات والانحدارات فيها وكذلك الشواطئ التي لا تصلح كموانيء علاوة على أن أفريقيا محاطة بالبحار والمحيطات من جميع الجوانب. ومما ساهم في انعزال أفريقيا أن التبادل التجاري بين الدول غالبا ما يكون بين الشرق والغرب وليس الشمال والجنوب. أضف إلى أسباب تأخر افريقيا مشكلة تفشي الأمراض كالملاريا وانواع الحمى المختلفة والتي تسهم البيئة الحارة والرطبة على انتشارها. ومن أهم العوامل المساهمة في تأخر أفريقيا ما تعرضت لها شعوبها من موجات الاستعباد لمئات السنين مما قلل الكثافة السكانية في مساحات شاسعة. وجاء بعد ذلك الاستعمار ثم الحروب الأهلية والحروب بين الدول على الحدود المصطنعة التي رسمها المستعمر والصراع على الماء والنفط. ويواصل الكتاب عرض وتفصيل تأثير تقسيم الاستعمار للدول ورسم الحدود على الخرائط دون النظر لطبيعة الشعوب والقبائل الموجودة على أرض الواقع وأثر ذلك على معظم الحروب والصراعات في يومنا هذا لاسيما في الشرق الاوسط، الهند وباكستان. ثم ينتقل لكوريا واليابان، أمريكا الجنوبية ويختم بالمحيط المتجمد الشمالي. ملاحظة: حصلت على نسخة الكترونية من هذا الكتاب بواسطة مجموعة بريدية لنادي قراءة نيجيري.

  • Will Once
    2018-10-23 18:56

    The premise of this book is interesting - that much of international politics is about geography. Country A doesn't go to war with country B because there is a range of mountains between them. Country C enjoys a strong trading economy because it has access to the sea. And so it goes.Most people reading it will probably get one or two "aha" moments when the book gives them an insight they hadn't had before. It's a good point well made. About a quarter of the way through the book I was really enjoying it. Then we start to run into problems. They aren't disastrous. This book is still worth reading. But it's not quite as good as it could be.The main problem is that the book is one long dry lecture. We get nothing but the author speaking for page after page. He clearly knows what he is talking about, but it really needs to be broken up with some more maps, quotes from someone else, anecdotes, graphs. At times this book feels like a college lecture where a highly qualified professor drones on and on for hours. You know that what he is saying is good. You can tell he is an expert. But you long for something to break up the monotony of an uninterrupted monologue.The main thesis doesn't always work. Some of the sections are less about geography and more about people. Messy, organic, unpredictable people. So yes all countries to seem to be prisoners of their geography. In part. But they are also prisoners of their history and the decisions made by individuals. It's not all about mountains, rivers and access to the sea. And you do not make a good book solely by allowing an expert to drone on and on in lecture-theatre style. Recommended - ish. There is lots of good stuff in here, even if it can be quite dull and the main thesis doesn't entirely work every time.

  • Joseph
    2018-11-04 23:03

    Prisoners of Geography: Ten Maps That Tell You Everything You Need To Know About The World by Tim Marshall attempts to explain the world by presenting ten maps of the planet. Tim Marshall is a leading authority on foreign affairs with more than 25 years of reporting experience. He was the diplomatic editor at Sky News, and before that was working for the BBC and LBC/IRN radio. He has reported from thirty countries and covered the conflicts in Croatia, Bosnia, Macedonia, Kosovo, Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, and Israel. If a picture is worth a thousand words, a map is worth a thousand pictures. A topographical map in the hands of a Marine is a volume of information on terrain, defensive positions, possible enemy routes, and the sense of knowing where you are, how to get where you need to be. It's more than just a picture of the ground that others may see. Maps are important even in reading history. National boundaries become visible even if it's not a political map. Mountains, rivers, deserts, and oceans created borders even before Europe drew lines on a map. America and Russia sprawled until they met oceans. The Middle East existed without national borders. The Ottoman Empire didn't arbitrarily divide land. Nationalism and conflict in the Middle East have much more to do with the artificial straight line borders drawn by France and England than historical boundaries, tribes, or religions. Countries develop to their resources and their limits. Russia is challenged by the lack of a true warm-water ocean port. China is creating alliances to gain what it needs with a stealthy military objective. Japan trades because it must; it lacks resources. Mountains ensure peace coexistence between India and China but not India and Pakistan. Natural borders offer security while political borders offer an avenue for conflict. China is boxed in between rivers, mountains, and jungles. Vietnam is the only country China has invaded in the last fifty years, but not from lack of want but practicality. A map is a handy tool for understanding the world. Marshall takes maps of ten regions of the world and uses them to explain the political and cultural realities of the modern world. It becomes easy to see the problem areas and the limits of nations based on their geography. It also becomes apparent how countries are attempting to change their situations. Some countries live in the comfort of their situation. Mexico only needs to fear invasion from the US and Canada likewise; neither is expresses much concern over this. Other countries are not so lucky. South Korea’s capital Seoul is only thirty-five miles from the DMZ. There are no natural obstacles separating Seoul from an invading army from the north. Prisoners of Geography is a nicely done work that provides a picture (map) and then goes on to describe the history, culture, and the political realities of the region. Most of the world is covered with the exception of Canada, the South Pacific, Australia, and New Zealand. The maps help explain the whys of many historical questions and actions as well as the present and possible future challenges. Prisoners of Geography is a very readable and understandable history and political study.

  • Carlos
    2018-11-05 21:05

    What a great read, this was such an interesting topic, well explained and clear . I highly recommend this book to any lover of geopolitical issues and whoever wants to get a glimpse on how the foreseeable future might play out . If you love maps and history this book is for you!

  • Paul
    2018-10-26 20:59

    Prisoners of Geography – A Much needed lessonAs someone whose family has been victims of the Geography of where they lived and who they were in an often much forgotten episode of the Second World War. People forget that when the Nazis invaded Poland in 1939 their allies Russia invaded Poland on the 17th September 1939. My great-Grandmother was ‘exiled’ to Siberia because her son was fighting for the enemy (the Polish Government) and her husband was an officer in the Polish Police. My Grandfather escaped a Nazi POW camp made his way to France and after its fall to the UK. My great-Grandfather was never heard of again, and members of my family perished at Katyn, when my great-Grandmother was released in 1946 from Siberia, she could not go home, as her home was in the Stalin creation of Western Ukraine and was ‘moved’ to Krakow.Many Eastern European Governments did not speak out when Russia moved in to the Crimea region whereas Western Leaders could not help themselves but make comments. Why the difference? Partly geography and mainly history, Crimea had been Russian until 1964 when Khrushchev gave Crimea to Ukraine, oh and Khrushchev was a Ukrainian. What we have not heard is a lot about Russia’s interference in Eastern Ukraine which Eastern Europe is very concerned about.Tim Marshall’s excellent book Prisoners of Geography which examines ten maps of the world and then given a concise geopolitical history of that region. You will find out why Russian is concerned about Europe’s eastern border countries, and why it sees Poland as the gateway to the Russian plains as well as the European plains, and feels pretty secure with its other borders.There is also an excellent examination on why China has finally come from behind the bamboo curtain and playing an active part with investments across the Asiatic content. That they are not afraid to sabre rattle amongst the USA naval fleet when it sails too close to China.We also get examinations of the Middle East, which is very apt, with some excellent analysis which some of our political leaders could do with and understanding before making crass statements on what is happening there. In the chapter that covers the Middle East the reader is reminded very much of the artificial borders that were drawn up by the Sykes-Picot Agreement in May 1916, a secret agreement that was concluded by two British and French diplomats. The Sykes-Picot Agreement involved itself with the partition of the Ottoman Empire once World War One had ended. The consequences of which are still reverberating throughout the Middle East and people wonder why the British are not trusted by countries such as Iran.There are also excellent chapters that cover Africa, Korea and Japan, the United States as well as the southern Americas. One could go forensically through all the chapters and set them out here but the reader needs to engage this book.What Tim Marshall gives the reader is an excellent lesson and reminders that geography influences political decisions, strategic decisions of governments and the attitudes of the people. This book also can open one’s eyes to the fact that geography gives context to political and historical events such as revolutions or various embargos that happen across the globe.This is an excellent book which students of geography, history and politics should be required to read and those not so bright people that get elected to Parliaments need to read. This book puts a lot of recent and historical events in to context and understanding that context is so important. Buy this book, borrow this book and give this book it is too important to remain on the shelves getting dusty.

  • Jo (A rather Bookish Geek)
    2018-10-14 20:50

    "Geography has always been a prison of sorts-one that defines what a nation is or can be, and one from which our world leaders have often struggled to break free"This book is a rather grand introduction to geopolitics. It contains ten respectably shirt chapters and there are illustrations showing us the geo strategic realities for the different countries.I particularly enjoyed the chapter on the Arctic. It was most interesting and there is such a lot going on there.This book has gone into a lot of detail, and has left me with rather a lot to think about.

  • Stefan
    2018-10-18 17:01

    Overall an interesting read, but little new information for anyone with more than just a passing interest in history or (geo-)politics. There is too much ''America is awesome'' and too little actual in depth information. Furthermore, the title is somewhat misleading. I had the impression that there would be ten actual maps, ones that you don't see or use very often to define your view of the world, but could be considered important nonetheless. Rather, the author just uses the generic maps that exist of the world's major continents and regions. Concluding, it's worth a read if you need a primer on the back story behind current geopolitics and you want to have something more to tell your friends at the bar than ''those Russians/Chinese/Americans/Islamists are just modern imperialists!''. If you are looking for something more in-depth, look further.

  • Riku Sayuj
    2018-10-19 23:09

    Marshall could have kept up the initial presentation and analysis throughout the book, but at some point the editors decided to shorten the pages and compress regions together. As a fellow reviewer says, "It is solid stuff, but after some time this geography thing gets a bit repetitive – plains, mountains, rivers, plainsmountainsrivers, portsportsports ..."

  • Dana Stabenow
    2018-11-04 17:05

    Brisk, well written, continent by continent (excluding Australia) survey of how geography is destiny, beginning with Putin going down on his knees every night to ask God why He didn't put mountains in Ukraine. I really liked the way Marshall organized it, too. The first chapter is Russia and how so much of their actions are dictated by the eternal quest for a warm-water port, the second is China's equally eternal quest of finding water routes unobstructed by the island archipelago likes of the Philippines and Japan, Russia and South Korea, all except Russia firm American allies, although Russia has as much interest in keeping China within bounds as the US does.The third chapter is about good old US, and it had not previously occurred to me that geography is why we are who we are. I mean, yeah, I understand about the insulating effect of being between two oceans, but Marshall says that if someone had sat down and drawn the perfect base for world domination, they would have come up with, you guessed it, US. Partly this is because of all that wonderful farmland but it's also partly because we're home to the world's longest navigable rivers, so we can get all that grain to market.He lays out why the entire continent of Africa is becoming a Chinese colony, and the chapter on India and Pakistan is a pocket history of the region and it will not cheer you to learn that, again, geography dictates that nothing is resolved there anytime soon, or ever. One Indian politician is even on record as saying they ought to just nuke Pakistan and deal with the literal and figurative fallout so India can move on without the Pakistani thorn in their sides. Jesus. Marshall is also amusingly shirty about the Arab Spring, which he pretty conclusively demonstrates was romanticized by Western writers into a transformative event that was no such thing on the ground.Marshall is a BBC journalist who knows how to get to the meat of the story in efficient, competent prose that still makes for an enthralling read. Not a needless word anywhere. Highly recommended.

  • Ray
    2018-10-30 00:04

    This is a good introduction to geopolitics. In ten short chapters it illustrates the geostrategic realities for countries and regions. It explains why the Ukraine is so important to Russia, the limits of chinese assertiveness in its backyard and why africa is so poor.My only criticism is that it is too short

  • Simon Clark
    2018-10-20 22:55

    A very interesting overview of global geopolitics and the geography that informs it. By splitting the world into distinct regions Marshall allows for the isolation of particularly important geographical features, such as the North European Plain on Russian politics, and the lack of navigable rivers hampering internal development in Africa. The author is clearly authoritative and even includes a few personal anecdotes with foreign ministers when making points. This being my first book on the subject I'm unable to review how accurate his take on the subject is, however I found every chapter entirely plausible. It has already shaped my perception of events happening in the news - for example Russia's strategy in Eastern Europe and the Caucasus being played out via its relationship with the USA and Turkey over the Syrian conflict.As a general introduction to why world politics is the way it is, I'd struggle to recommend anything better.

  • Daniel Afloarei
    2018-10-20 18:50

    Educativa pentru cei care doresc sa inteleaga contextul politic actual. As fi vrut doar sa explice mai in detaliu anumite aspecte istorice.

  • aPriL does feral sometimes
    2018-10-30 23:48

    “Prisoners of Geography” is brief (too brief in my opinion) but yet the book is a delightful and informative read. The intertwined story of human development, war and geography is coherently arranged and very interesting. It has a lot of maps - hooray!These pages reveal the occasional underlying rationality behind why governments sometimes behave the way they do, as well as maybe some reasons why some countries are so impoverished while others have done very well financially. Politics and history are necessarily brought into each chapter because tribalism, colonialism, Manly-pride and war have had often more to do with a country’s development than rational or ‘best practices’ decision-making which took into account an area’s geography and resources. Tribal affiliations, culture and technology still deeply affect how nations evolve, as well as accidents of history and growth patterns. The author does not do any judgmental analysis of any governments’ follies or weaknesses to predation by jealous or greedy neighboring countries, but gentle reader, you certainly will. The author includes general details which are enough to connect the dots of history and politics, but his primary focus is on how the presence of mountain ranges, rivers, plains, climate, technology, flora, fauna and natural resources either nurtured or damaged the economic development of countries and/or its vulnerability to war. Mountains, swamps and deserts might cut off communities from each other, creating maybe a hundred local religions, languages and tribes living in disconnected small villages - or maybe the presence of navigable rivers or plains might have facilitated a common language, customs, trading, and later, national ambitions. Climate, of course, is HUGE.Lots of rivers without waterfalls, that are also easily connected to other rivers, provide communities with low-cost connected shipping. Plains in temperate climate zones permit farming, and easy access of business travel and delivery of goods (and invading military troops), promoting the building of cities and industry (and envious neighbors who may have too many mountains, swamps, or deserts - a good case for using a mountain range as a protection barrier and border, although that can be a deterrent to good relationships, too). Lovely ocean beaches are certainly places where one can relax, and if the underlying geology is amiable to the building of ports for deep-water shipping, a country has a major leg up for production and prosperity. Ports cannot be built very cheaply or easily in Africa, for example, despite its long ocean borders. Africa’s underlying beach geology does not support the building of ports, apparently. Africa also has a myriad of other geological and geographical features which prohibit easy development of its resources, particularly in building infrastructure. Most of Africa’s rivers have too many waterfalls and many of them do not connect easily to other rivers. The Nile River drains through too many different countries who do not trust each other - with reason - which is a problem of politics and tribalism - not entirely a problem of geography and climate alone, obviously. In any case, tribalism, a past of colonialism, and poor leadership are huge deterrents to building up modern production methods and safe communities in Africa. It is not only about its geology and its climate. Africa’s climate, btw, is wonderful for the development of one thing - malaria, one of the most long-term debilitating illnesses on earth.Frankly, I do not know if I should feel hopeful or despairing about Humanity’s ability to persevere in eking out meaning and a life with few comforts in an impoverished country due to resource mismanagement, geographical location, and/or the greed of its elite class or its covetous warmongering neighboring nations. I do most certainly feel damn lucky I live in a country naturally endowed with many resources and thousands of miles of land, a comparatively small but not too small generally homogeneous population, a mostly temperate climate, with two oceans protecting two of the borders and friendly countries on the other two borders. Most of us complain daily about what is wrong here in the United States, but we ignore the many things that are right. We are at peace here in the ‘homeland’ which actually contributes a great deal to our prosperity - more than most of us know. The shelves of our groceries and stores bend down under the weight of goods and food from all over the world (as well as what is manufactured here and distributed on our connected river-ways and road/train/airplane infrastructure) thanks to our high-tech deep-water ports and shipping technology. We have about 5% unemployment year after year, generally, and minimal economic ‘safety nets’ (arguably insufficient and mismanaged as the ‘nets’ may be, especially in the area of supporting mental disabilities). An education is almost available to everyone (some preexisting and historically dramatic exceptions prevail in some neighborhoods because of racism). For most of us, we eat everyday under roofs protecting us from the worst of the mostly temperate climate, with clean drinking water readily available, and most of us are inoculated (by antibiotics which require refrigeration, available everywhere here) from the many diseases which debilitate other nations. Most of us can read and write in the one mainstream language necessary for commerce and comfort here; we do not have to navigate the dozens, and even hundreds, of languages other countries do. Tribalism/religious-class stratification is not based on ethnicity or place of birth as much or as powerfully as in other countries (imho, wealth is FAR-and-away a predictor in how respectfully or ‘fairly’ one is treated - of course, access to the organs of ‘wealth creation’ is another story in our recent history). Despite our complaints about access to the offices of officials and (mis)management of government agencies, in comparison to other countries, we are a paradise of function and process. We rank low on most corruption indexes. We are technologically well-endowed, and tech is available and widespread throughout the country. Most of us flip switches every night to turn on heat and light, without worrying if the electrical company is enforcing a brownout, and our refrigerators keep our perishable food cold - no daily shopping at a live-animal/produce market required. I literally have not heard of anyone in the States who has to walk one or two, or even three, hours one way to a waterhole daily to scoop up two pails of water for the necessities of cooking, bathing and drinking, as I have read what happens in many communities in Africa. And despite the ‘bad apples’ among them, most police officers and definitely most of our military service members, do not see us (ok, most of us, less true for minority communities) as prey, in comparison to Africa, Asia, the Middle East, South America and Russia. We are more able to move up and down in social class because class is based mostly on wealth, not so much on tribal or religious affiliation; and we have considerably less corruption and more accountability of officials and legal organizations, comparably speaking.I have read elsewhere our type of government impedes any single political group from gaining monolithic authority while starving the creation of too many interest groups which might fragment the ability of government to govern. Of course, strengthening elements of identity politics as well as economic disparities are currently stressing the governance of America. Time will tell. Given some of the outcomes of politics, history and geography described in this book, though, I am a little scared. Climate change could upend the uneasy balance of the political and economic divisions we have managed to power through in bad times historically. Having oceans on two borders and friendly neighboring countries acting as a buffer to hostile nations (having buffer nations surrounding it is Russia’s goto strategy - See Ukraine - as well as China) won’t be enough. Our primarily temperate climate, navigable rivers, technologically-tamed mountains, and developed infrastructure and technological advances may be why the United States is still standing no matter what our internal and external political and social difficulties, but what if the deserts grow bigger, more dry and hotter? What if the water tables fall to nothing, and the rains fail to come? What if the fertile soils blow away, the friendly insects and local wildlife and flora die, and new disease-carrying flora and fauna invade a country, this country, much more hospitable to them? ‘Prisoners of Geography’ has made me ever so much more aware of how much of what part of the Earth’s surface we are fortunate or unfortunate to be born on matters.I guess we will find out in fifty years or so how much a formerly favorable climate and geography helped our luck as a successful country.Governments often try to manipulate the perceptions and appearances of their actions and ambitions - but geography and resources are the hard bedrock of all surface Realpolitik Truths which no government or military force can afford to ignore. Those governments who ignore geography and climate do so at risk of losing everything.The ten maps author Tim Marshall has included in this book:RussiaChinaUnited StatesWestern EuropeThe Middle EastIndia and PakistanKorea and JapanLatin AmericaThe ArcticThere also is a Bibliography and an Index, as well as many gorgeous maps.

  • Cher
    2018-11-12 17:57

    3 stars - It was good.Interesting and extremely relevant read – I particularly enjoyed the chapter on the Arctic. -------------------------------------------Favorite Quote: When we are reaching for the stars, the challenges ahead are such that we will perhaps have to come together to meet them: to travel the universe not as Russians, Americans, or Chinese but as representatives of humanity. But so far, although we have broken free from the shackles of gravity, we are still imprisoned in our own minds, confined by our suspicion of the “other,” and thus our primal competition for resources.First Sentence: Vladimir Putin says he is a religious man, a great supporter of the Russian Orthodox Church.

  • Thomas Ray
    2018-11-10 17:04

    Prisoners of Geography: Ten Maps that Explain Everything about the World, Tim Marshall, 2015, 263 pp.This is actually a rather shallow, cursory look at geopolitics from a standard pro–U.S.-military, neoliberal viewpoint. The ten maps are just ordinary maps of ten areas, Russia, China, U.S., W. Europe, Africa, Mideast, S. Asia, Korea/Japan, Latin America, Arctic.The author’s claim, that natural corridors and natural barriers explain “everything,” is belied by the rise and fall of empires as plains, mountains, seas and rivers stay put.Where I'm coming from: for example, Addicted to War: Why the U. S. Government Can't Kick Militarism by Joel Andreas and Understanding Power: The Indispensable Chomsky by Noam Chomsky. The author buys the idea that there are “national” interests—as distinct from the interests of particular centers of power. And that we “have to” respond militarily to perceived threats to our ability to project power everywhere, and to counter the threat of violence by locals. No awareness that U.S. military presence is a threat that provokes violence. To the author, the world is a chessboard; control of fossil fuels a game. [e.g. pp. 60, 74] The unstated presumption is, what’s good for Exxon, United Fruit, Raytheon, is the U.S. national interest. Don’t ask who gains, who loses, by moving all production to lowest-wage countries.“Latin America lags far behind” economically. In part because they “got the politics wrong.” [pp. 216–217] He means some of them tried to resist total control by U.S. corporations—and that the U.S. military, CIA, State Department, and corporate and financial sectors have all worked very hard to keep Latin America an exploited region without autonomy.To the author, “idiots” think the problems of the Middle East are due to Israel. And that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is merely a “joint tragedy”—rather than, say, genocide, apartheid, theft of the country from the Palestinians by Israel. [p. 152]“The military is the real power in Egypt”—no mention that the U.S. provided that power. Much less in whose interest. [p. 167] On the Iran-Iraq war, no mention that the U.S. armed both sides. [p. 158]To this author, Mexico is a problem for America, supplying illegal labor and drugs. [p. 70] No mention of U.S. “dumping” of government-subsidized agricultural commodities, destroying livelihoods of farmers all over the world. No suggestion that it’s U.S. drug law and enforcement that’s the problem causing suffering throughout the hemisphere.Some “facts” are suspect. None are sourced. The claim, “The greater Mississippi basin has more miles of navigable river than the rest of the world put together,” [p. 68] is questionable. But so is shows Vietnam with more length of navigable waterways than the U.S., and whose world total is more than 3 times the sum of the countries’ totals.

  • Tom Ewing
    2018-11-07 22:50

    As a youth I studied the Annales school of history - a structuralist method which deals with geography first as a motor of history, and human plans and actions very much last. I say 'studied' rather than 'read' because Annales history was notoriously dry and notoriously long. Tim Marshall's book takes a similar approach but is brief, crisp and only mildly arid.Prisoners of Geography is at its strongest when explaining why big global powers want what they want. Russia, for instance, has had to deal with the same basic geographic questions for hundreds of years, and desires a warm water port under Putin as much as it did under any Tsar or General Secretary. China's history has been a long struggle for defensible borders, only recently achieved, so now it has naval security as a priority. And so on. This is a useful corrective to newspaper reporting which tends to present the activity of non-Western countries as either Machiavellian or inscrutable, and Marshall provides a good primer on - as he puts it - the 'geo' of geopolitics.The book has two weaknesses though, the second of which it could do nothing about. The first, and more avoidable problem is that Marshall flounders a bit when dealing with regions like the Middle East, where multiple state, ethnic or tribal actors are in conflict. Here his geographical determinism only gets you so far - especially as a lot of the trouble is the fiat geography of post-colonial border-making. In such cases Marshall doesn't really even try for a geography-first approach. Instead he defaults to discussions of religion and culture and plain narratives of events - areas he is weaker and less interesting on, and where his own opinions creep ahead of more useful structural analysis. The second weakness is simply that occasionally individuals do have a major impact on history, and reading this on the 20th January 2017, sleepless from fretting over Donald Trump, brings this home sharply. Marshall hedges his bets on Brexit (the vote postdates the book) but his earlier chapters generally assume that US foreign policy will be in continuity with its general postwar thrust. Maybe it will. But maybe it won't. Prisoners Of Geography feels overtaken by events already. Though it's a mark in its favour that his lucid discussions give the reader the tools to figure out the likely consequences of potential policy shifts. Most seem dire, though that's hardly Marshall's fault.

  • Becky
    2018-10-14 23:04

    A very interesting read that provides a potted history of the geopolitical realities. At times the tone was a little strange but I think this is largely the result of attempting to pitch highly complex ideas at ordinary readers. There are lots of fascinating detail here, and the book does give you a lot to think about.

  • Biblio Curious
    2018-10-14 16:04

    The chapter on the Arctic is chilling! There's a lot going on up north! He explains current events based on their geographical influences or causes. Very insightful book and highly recommended as an introduction for Geopolitical Issues.

  • Peter Mcloughlin
    2018-11-09 18:55

    Very good book for putting oneself in the collective shoes of various geopolitical powers and their fears and strategy. The book takes into account the geographic advantages and threats of various regions and explains why great powers make the moves they do and gives some insight into what is likely to be coming down the road. A good primer for gaining literacy in geopolitics.

  • Greg
    2018-11-02 16:00

    Good to know the Mississippi River "has more miles of navigable river than the rest of the world put together" because having cruised the Nile, those cataract dives and rolls, especially at night, are terrifying. Lucky for me, I was traveling alone and the cruise company had smartly located the couples and families on the bottom level of the ship so that when we flipped over, the boat would land upright. Oh, and Russia has no year-round warm water ports but 8 ice-breaker ships but the US has only 1, I guess because ports like New Orleans and Ft. Lauderdale don't normally freeze over. Fun facts for all!

  • AnaVlădescu
    2018-10-22 20:57

    A book about the complexity of geopolitics, written with the simplicity necessary for a neophyte to get it. Big plus for the author's sense of humour, which permeates from time to time in the middle of the most serious subjects, giving you a laughing jolt when you least expect it. Totally worth the read for anyone interested in the subject.

  • Annikky
    2018-11-01 00:08

    All you need to do to enjoy this book is to ignore the title, the subtitle and the central tenet of the text.* Yep, as simple as that. Let me explain. Was Putin really forced to annex Crimea, as the book implies? Did China have no other choice than to occupy Tibet? Of course not. There are always options, even if there are geopolitical arguments for or against certain actions. The 'prisoners of geography' rhetoric comes dangerously close to absolving the perpetrators of any blame, as their actions were pre-determined by the mountains, rivers and seas – there was nothing they could do! So there goes the title.As for the fact that these ten maps tell you everything you need to know about global politics, that's clearly not true either, as I suspect the author of the book very well knows. But I guess 'ten maps that can be pretty useful in understanding some aspects of what's going on in the world' wasn't quite as catchy. So much for the subtitle, then.To be fair, Marshall never says that geography is the most important factor in international politics. But his outlook is clearly (geo)deterministic and his intention is to restore the rightful place of the geographical arguments in the debate. It's a pity he doesn't make a slightly more convincing attempt to acknowledge the other factors at play, as it would automatically negate a lot of criticism that can be hurled at the book.There is no shortage of examples of ideology, economy and technology overcoming the geographical factors. Marshall's book itself offers several good cases (I'm not even counting the Cold War), like Jerusalem: a city of no geographic strategic importance, but one of the most important cities in the world nevertheless. Or let's take Daesh – while either helped or hindered by the local geography and shaped to a certain extent by the ethnic map of the Middle East, it was not born out of either of them. Explaining Daesh without bringing ideology and religion to the mix is impossible. Marshall has a great chapter on Africa, but again, it's not Africa's geography and demography per se that are causing trouble (or at least not only), it's the geographic and ethnic realities in conjunction with the arbitrary national borders that were drawn ignoring those realities – as Marshall himself eloquently describes.Anyway, if you set all this aside and read the book as an examination of one important factor in the global Great Game, it's a really enjoyable, enlightening read. It offers ten relatively brief sketches of areas of geopolitical importance and/or tension, from Russia to the Middle East to India-Pakistan to the Arctic. As a good journalist, Marshall makes these chapters easy to read, but filled with insight and detail. I would never have guessed that the second-largest military force in Africa (after Egypt) is in Ethiopia or realised on my own why Pakistan is so important for China (access to the sea). If you have in-depth knowledge of the regions covered, you might find the analysis too shallow. Then again, if you're a casual but curious observer of current affairs, the book will be illuminating. In a world full of opinions, we rarely pause to consider the basic facts, often we don't even know them - where countries are, how many people they contain, what are the available natural resources, who are the neighbors and how's the weather. It's a special skill to write for those who are not foreign policy wonks, to edit a huge amount of info down to something digestible, engaging and informative. It was a fun ride and I feel smarter - not a bad result. My main complaint, in addition to the rant above, is that the maps that are central to the book are not very functional and sometimes do not feature places mentioned in the text. It's annoying.But all-in-all, if you're interested in what and why is going on in the world, this is recommended reading. Just make sure it's not the only book you read on the topic.*Unless you are a die-hard prophet of geopolitics and love determinism. In that case, the solution is much simpler: ignore my review.

  • Jennifer
    2018-10-31 19:17

    This was a title-buy. I don't think I've ever made a title-buy before (although I guess it's possible, seeing as how I have definitely bought the definition of too many books). Slightly more reasonable than buying a book based on its pretty cover, and less reasonable than buying a book based on its plot, being drawn to this title worked out okay this time. (Which I guess makes sense, since the subtitle is pretty explanatory.) Anyway. This "review" began on a digression so let's see how well I do from here on out. (My guess? Not well.)Tim Marshall was a British journalist who worked as a foreign correspondent, reporting from the front lines during wars and times of unrest across Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. Prisoners of Geography examines how geography shaped the growth of nations, countries, and conflicts in ten regions: Russia, China, the United States, Western Europe, Africa, the Middle East, India and Pakistan, Korea and Japan, Latin America, and the Arctic. Each chapter is accompanied by a map depicting that region (hence the subtitle), and I appreciated their inclusion because my knowledge of geography is woeful. The maps helped support the conclusions Marshall drew throughout the book.As a very basic (and western-oriented) summary of the biggest players on the international field and their current conflicts, this book succeeds. As an argument about geography, it also succeeds, but I would say that that argument itself was not a very necessary one. It's a given, I think, that the geography of a region will affect its future. Rivers that run into each other and are easy to navigate means a connected people with better trade routes; islands mean isolation; mountains mean protection. If the central thesis of this book was that geography changes things, then: Obviously. Luckily, Marshall brought a lot more to the book than just that argument, and there were only a few paragraphs that made me think his point was actually that simple.I thought the strongest sections of this book were—actually, everything except the section on the United States. His writing on the Middle East, on Africa and Russia and Pakistan and India and the rest was informative but also forward-looking. He tried to take what he knew of the regions' geography (a lot) and what he knew of their history and present affairs (also a lot) and posit where they might go from here on the global stage. He did that with his section on the United States, too, but either I am very tired of hearing about the United States and its hegemony (likely), or he did it to a lesser extent. Possibly both of these things are true. The chapter on the United States was where I thought his argument was at its most basic. We all know that the geography of the United States was unique and therefore led to a very different type of nation. I didn't feel the need for it to be explained, again, in great detail, in a book that seemed to be making more pointed conclusions about other parts of the world. (I recognize that if I had grown up in Western Europe I might have been bored by the section on that region and interested by the one on the United States. Biases are very real.) (I think if I had grown up in Russia or China or the Middle East and read this book, my feelings would be very different and probably much angrier. This does not necessarily do a bad job of exploring different sides of global relations, but it does do a very Western job of it. It is definitely obvious which part of the world the author is from, as well as who his intended audience is. Marshall wrote a New York Times bestseller.)My least favorite paragraph of the book came at the beginning of the chapter on the United States:There are fifty American states, but they add up to one nation in a way the twenty-eight sovereign states of the European Union never can. Most of the EU states have a national identity far stronger, more defined, than any American state. It is easy to find a French person who is French first, European second, or one who pays little allegiance to the idea of Europe, but an American identified with their Union in a way few Europeans do theirs. This is explained by the geography, and the history of the unification of the United States. This is the point in the book when I thought, (a) Okay, but is that really your thesis? "This is explained by the geography..."? Because as far as theses go that is pretty accepted and believe me, no one needed you to write upwards of 250 pages to prove it; and also (b) drawing such a strong parallel between the European Union and the United States is based on a premise that they are trying to be the same thing and, since your ultimate argument is that they are not trying to be the same thing because of the United State's history and geography, then, please, refer to (a): We know that already. Thankfully, Marshall went deeper than that paragraph suggests, even in the chapter on the United States, and certainly in the rest of the book. I found this to be the weakest part of the book, though, and if I had not bought it I might have put it aside, because this was only the third chapter, and I didn't have a good feel for what the book was going to turn into yet. I had bought it, though, (that aforementioned title-buy), so I kept reading.Marshall was very clever in ordering his chapters. Each section built on the ones that preceded it; Russia, China, the United States, and Western Europe all affect, through imperial colonization and post-imperial posturing, the other regions Marshall covered in this book. The information provided in the chapters on these powers provided background to the conflicts addressed in the chapters on the other regions. I especially appreciated that he ended the book with the chapter on the Arctic, as Arctic geography is changing, and is therefore in the process of undergoing the struggle for influence that other regions have been going through for centuries. The final paragraph of that chapter was one of the strongest of the book and showed the potential for Marshall's thesis to be much more insightful than, "This is explained by the geography."Obviously these ten chapters and their accompanying maps do not actually tell me everything I need to know about the world. They did do a good job, however, of giving a basic rundown of some of the biggest conflicts that the international community faces today, and made an attempt at explaining the origin of those conflicts. I tend toward relativism when I look at history: I find it difficult to take one historical lens and say, Yes, this explains everything, thank you, end of discussion, but it is also difficult to deny that geography is one of the strongest forces to shape history, and this book successfully explores the impact it has had—and will continue to have—on the modern world.

  • Tomáš Ulej
    2018-10-21 18:59

    Neskutočné, koľko vecí v súčasnom svete je ovplyvnených len tým, či niekadiaľ tečie rieka alebo či má krajina pohorie. Nikdy som nemal rád geografiu, lebo som jej nerozumel. Mať tak túto knihu keď som mal 15, možno by to bolo inak. Mindchanger roka 2017.

  • Josh Duxbury
    2018-11-03 18:57

    I was going to give this 3 stars but the unnecessarily cliche conclusion reduced this to two. After providing a very basic overview of geopolitics in 10 regions, the author prescribed a method to save the world by working together as 'humanity', not as nations. He has ignored the fact that geopolitics is about nations' competing interests. While I did learn some things from this book, the main problem I have with this is that it is labelled as geopolitics. The author provides a brief history of the region and couples it with the geographic features, and if you are vaguely interested in politics you already know most of what he discusses. It is simplistic geopolitics at best. Maybe I had too high expectations for this book, but it seems redundant to provide basic history lessons on major nations - something the target audience presumably already knows.

  • Jesus
    2018-10-13 19:47

    The book seems to me about geo-tactics, mostly about how geography defines possible military attacks and defences.It did not convince me of its thesis that we are prisoners of geography.The one that convinced me of exactly the opposite was Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity, and PovertyPlus: the maps in the book are not great either :-(