REVIEW | Prisoners of Geography by Tim Marshall

BOOK REVIEW | Prisoners of Geography: Ten Maps That Tell You Everything You Need to Know About Global Politics by Tim Marshall
Review by Dr. Mark David Major, AICP, CNU-A

… and you should have learned about in high school in the first place.

(Book blurb begins) Maps have a mysterious hold over us. Whether ancient, crumbling parchments or generated by Google, maps tell us things we want to know, not only about our current location or where we are going but about the world in general. And yet, when it comes to geo-politics, much of what we are told is generated by analysts and other experts who have neglected to refer to a map of the place in question. All leaders of nations are constrained by geography. Now updated to include 2016 geopolitical developments, journalist Tim Marshall examines Russia, China, the US, Latin America, the Middle East, Africa, Europe, Japan, 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 (Book blurb ends).

I have to admit to judging Prisoners of Geography by its cover… and it does have a great cover designed by David Wardle (see above). However, I should have paid much closer attention to the Tim Marshall’s author biography on the inside of the backcover when I purchased this book. He is only a BBC/Sky news reporter. I began reading with expectations for in-depth analysis about an issue with profound and widespread implications around the world. Instead, what I got was a high school geography lesson; presumably written for people who didn’t bother to listen the first time around in their high school geography class. On these terms, Prisoners of Geography is fine. However, if you are looking for something with more intellectual breadth and depth, then the shallow nature of Prisoners of Geography will be a disappointment. Mark’s Grade:

Prisoners of Geography: Ten Maps That Tell You Everything You Need to Know About Global Politics by Tim Marshall
Paperback, 320 pages, English
Scribner; Reprint edition (October 11, 2016)
ISBN-10: 1501121472
ISBN-13: 978-1501121470

You can purchase Prisoners of Geography: Ten Maps That Tell You Everything You Need to Know About Global Politics by Tim Marshall on Amazon here.

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