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Prisoners of Geography – Ten Maps that Tell You Everything You Need to Know about Global Politics

Prisoners of Geography
Tim Marshall
Elliott and Thompson Limited, 2016
Level: beginner
Perspective: Complexity Economics, Evolutionary Economics, Other
Topic: Crises, Economic History, Globalization & International Economic Relations, North-South Relations & Development
page count: 303 pages
ISBN: 9781783962433


"All leaders are constrained by geography. Their choices are limited by mountains, rivers, seas and concrete. Yes, to understand world events you need to understand people, ideas and movements ... but if you don't know geography, you'll never have the full picture.; To understand Putin's actions, for example, it is essential to consider that, to be a world power, Russia must have a navy. And if its ports freeze for six months each year then it must have access to a warm water port - hence, the annexation of Crimea was the only option for Putin. To understand the Middle East, it is crucial to know that geography is the reason why countries have logically been shaped as they are - and this is why invented countries (e.g. Syria, Iraq, Libya) will not survive as nation states.; Spread over ten chapters (covering Russia; China; the USA; Latin America; the Middle East; Africa; India and Pakistan; Europe; Japan and Korea; and Greenland and the Arctic), using maps, essays and occasionally the personal experiences of the widely traveled author, Prisoners of Geography looks at the past, present and future to offer an essential guide to one of the major determining factors in world history."

Book summary

Tim Marshall is seeing the world through the lens of geography, providing a fresh way of looking at maps. This is not a book about environmental determinism – the geography of a region is never presented as fatalistic. But it does send a timely reminder that despite technological advances, geography is always there, often forcing the hand of world leaders.

Comment from our editors:

It seem intuitive enough, yet features rarely in economics: the relevance of geography for economic decisions and outcomes. This book demonstrates that, quite apart from different schools of economic thought, it is geography featuring prominently in economic policy and individual agents' behaviour.

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