Prisoners of Geography

Prisoners of Geography

Ten Maps That Explain Everything About the World

Book - 2015 | First Scribner hardcover edition.
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In the bestselling tradition of Why Nations Fail and The Revenge of Geography , an award-winning journalist uses ten maps of crucial regions to explain the geo-political strategies of the world powers.

All leaders of nations are constrained by geography. Their choices are limited by mountains, rivers, seas, and concrete. To understand world events, news organizations and other authorities often focus on people, ideas, and political movements, but without geography, we never have the full picture. Now, in the relevant and timely Prisoners of Geography , seasoned journalist Tim Marshall examines Russia, China, the USA, Latin America, the Middle East, Africa, Europe, Japan and Korea, and Greenland and the Arctic--their weather, seas, mountains, rivers, deserts, and borders--to provide a context often missing from our political reportage: how the physical characteristics of these countries affect their strengths and vulnerabilities and the decisions made by their leaders.

In ten, up-to-date maps of each region, Marshall explains in clear and engaging prose the complex geo-political strategies of these key parts of the globe. What does it mean that Russia must have a navy, but also has frozen ports six months a year? How does this affect Putin's treatment of the Ukraine? How is China's future constrained by its geography? Why will Europe never be united? Why will America never be invaded? Shining a light on the unavoidable physical realities that shape all of our aspirations and endeavors, Prisoners of Geography is the critical guide to one of the major (and most often overlooked) determining factors in world history.
Publisher: New York : Scribner, 2015.
Edition: First Scribner hardcover edition.
ISBN: 9781501121463
Branch Call Number: 320.12 MAR
Characteristics: 291 pages :,maps


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Nov 16, 2019

This textbook has positioned itself as a mainstream general audience book. The content is much the same as you would find in any history or geography course. There are many factoids, i.e. nuggets of information about geography or history I didn't know, and most of those were interesting to some extent, but overall about 80% of the content is stuff almost everybody knows (although too many don't). Facts like: Russia is huge and cold; China and India don't like each other but are protected from each other by the Himalayas; the United States is fortunate to be in a temperate climate zone and have access to both major oceans. Once it departs from pure geography, it deteriorates into what always turned me off about history class - it becomes the author's own opinion about history and why countries, either populations or governments, do what they do. The 80% you already knows drags and the other 20% irritates. It's also a bit of a bait and switch. I thought from the subtitle it would show some interesting maps, but it's almost all text with a few rather small, simple maps.

SCL_Angela Mar 29, 2019

A good primer of geo-politics. I was reminded that I need to learn more and pay better attention to Africa history and news.

Oct 15, 2018

Interesting read, pulls lots of threads together (considering "only" one chapter per continent). Even if/as one might be familiar with world maps, overlaying some geography onto them and highlighting (hindsighting?) how, then, countries borders (or aspirations) took shape quite interesting. I did find the maps confusing (!), unfamiliar with the details of, say, the Indian subcontinent in the "India" Chapter, I found myself reading that chapter with a finger on three other pages at the three relevant maps, as I searched for the city or state or river or mountain range being referenced in the text.

Aug 26, 2018

I learned so, so much from this book! As another person commented, you’d have to read a huge number of articles, history books, and newspapers to get this much information. And it wouldn’t make such a concise picture as this book does. All those names on the news now fall into context. A fabulous book, well-written and so informative! It is well worth the time and has so much information in those 263 pages! Thank you, Mr. Marshall!

Jul 04, 2018

In addition to the positive comments from others, let me add a different slant. This book shows why the Middle East will be mired in perpetual inter-tribal warfare, at least for many generations. It also shows why Latin America will be stuck in mediocrity for many generations. There are some problems in the world that we can't solve in our lifetimes.

Apr 05, 2016

Prisoners of Geography: Ten Maps That Explain Everything About the World --- by --- Tim Marshall.
This well written but very readable book looks at ten areas on the globe and examines why and how they were virtually geographically pre-destined to become global flash-points. Russia, China, the Middle East. They’re among the players. And so, amazingly enough for most Canadians, is the Arctic. This book is an excellent backgrounder for understanding the issues that play out on news-casts everywhere.

Nov 17, 2015

[If you want a first-rate education, read this book, and if you want an incredible education, read this book and this article:,_maintaining_american_supremacy_in_the_twenty-first_century/ ]
Wow! The amount of geopolitical and sociopolitical analyses and cogent thought in this book is incredible - - the reader would have to read the most astute columnists in 500 to over 1,000 international newspapers and journals to get anywhere close to this author - - a journalist, but really a tremendous historian, since the term // journalist \\ can hardly be applicable to such professionalism and reality-based scholarship.
You will not be disappointed!

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