Sunday, June 23, 2024

Review of Prisoners of Geography: Ten Maps That Explain Everything About the World by Tim Marshall

This book review was written by Eugene Kernes   

Book can be found in: 
Genre = Politics
Book Club Event = Book List (01/04/2025)
Intriguing Connections = 1) How To Allocate Resources?

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“The land on which we live has always shaped us.  It has shaped the wars, the power, politics, and social development of the peoples that now inhabit nearly every part of the earth.  Technology may seem to overcome the distances between us in both mental and physical space, but it is easy to forget that the land where we live, work, and raise our children is hugely important and that the choices of those who lead the seven billion inhabitants of this planet will to some degree always be shaped by the rivers, mountains, deserts, lakes, and seas that contain us all – as they always have.” – Tim Marshall, Introduction, Pages 1-2

“The price was right.  In the autumn of 1940, the British desperately needed more warships.  The Americans had fifty to spare and so, with what was called the Destroyers for Bases Agreement, the British swapped their ability to be a global power for help in remaining in the war.  Almost every British naval base in the Western Hemisphere was handed over.” – Tim Marshall, Chapter 3: United States, Page 79

“If we take Europe as a whole, we see the mountains, rivers, and valleys that explain why there are so many nation states.  Unlike the United States, in which one dominant language and culture pressed rapidly and violently ever westward, creating a giant country, Europe grew organically over millennia and remains divided between its geographical and linguistic regions.” – Tim Marshall, Chapter 4: Western Europe, Page 93


Is This An Overview?

Geography can provide a bounty of nutrition and abundant resources, or have them in scarcity if at all.  Abundance can enable people to flourish, or create a source of conflict for control.  Scarcity limits people’s ability to expand, or can incentive development of methods to overcome geographic limitations.  If people are able to inhabit a territory, they respond to what their geography provides.  Developing behaviors to compensate for what they lack, and use effectively what they have. 

Geography can bring people together, or can divide people.  Geography that connects different people together can bring in wealth through trade, but also can be a source of invasion.  To limit the threat of invasion, some peoples have become conquerors as a form of defensive strategy.  Geography that separates people can prevent conflicts, or can be a form of intensive conflict as no people may be able to seize control of the territories.   



Many sovereign states are represented along with their complex political situation.  But information on each state is limited.  To understand each sovereign state would require more research.  The diversity of sovereign states shows the diversity of geographic features and how the geography effects the political situation. 

The problem is that similar geographic features, are given a different outcome while claims that the geography has caused the generalized behavior.  The explanations take a situation and reason backward to how the situation came to be, but different political situations existed with similar or the same geography.  Geography is a factor of what people have to respond to, but the way people choose to respond to geography shapes the outcomes.

Questions to Consider while Reading the Book

•What is the raison d’etre of the book?  For what purpose did the author write the book?  Why do people read this book?
•What are some limitations of the book?
•To whom would you suggest this book?
•How does geography effect politics?
•What are geographic features that need to be accounted for?  
•How does technology effect geography?
•How can geography connect people?  
•What happens when people are able to connect to with each other?
•How can geography divide people?
•How does geography effect whether a region has decentralized or centralized politics?
•What effect does NATO have?  
•Why has Russia been expanding? 
•How does Russian geography effect its people?
•How does Russia effect Ukraine? 
•How does Russia effect Estonia? 
•Who do neighbors of Russia support, Russia or the United States? 
•What is the political situation between India and China? 
•How does China’s geography effect its people?
•How does China effect Tibet? 
•Why is China not a democracy? 
•How does geography effect the United States?
•How did the United States become a global power? 
•What is the political situation between the United States and China?
•Why do countries not want to lose face?
•How does geography effect Europe?
•How does geography effect Africa?
•How does geography effect the Congo? 
•How does geography effect the Middle East?
•Why is there an Israeli-Arab conflict? 
•How does geography effect India?
•How does geography effect Pakistan?
•How does geography effect South Korea?
•How does geography effect Japan?
•How does geography effect Latin America?
•Why can the Arctic become a conflict zone?

Book Details
Edition:                   First Scribner paperback edition
Publisher:               Scribner [Simon & Schuster]
Edition ISBN:         9781501121470
Pages to read:          277
Publication:             2016
1st Edition:              2015
Format:                    Paperback

Ratings out of 5:
Readability    5
Content          4
Overall          3