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Prisoners of Geography

Prisoners of Geography Book CoverBy Tim Marshall
Review by Rebecca (Earth Sciences)

As an A-Level Physical Geography and Geology student, I was very much uninterested in the side of my subjects that revolved around the interactions of humans with the environment. Prisoners of Geography by Tim Marshall was the book that allowed me to overcome this distaste and develop a strong appreciation for geopolitics. Defined as politics, especially international relations, that is affected by geographical factors, this book demonstrates how significant events that have happened in the past, and those that will happen in the future, can be largely attributed to a nation’s geography.

The premise of this book revolves around considering a variety of different maps and explaining how the physical geography has affected the history of the area, focusing mainly on recent, well-known conflicts and issues. Marshall makes this content accessible by splitting the book into 10 chapters, with each chapter focusing on a different part of the world, so you can pick and choose specific areas that are of most interest and relevance to you. Whether you want to understand Russia’s annexation of Crimea, discover why the US had the makings to become and is likely to remain a global superpower, or find out more about the treatment of the Uyghurs in China, this book hosts a wealth of information, presented in easily digestible, bite-sized chunks.

Marshall, a former diplomatic affairs and foreign affairs editor at Sky News, brings the events to life by interspersing facts and figures with his own personal experiences. Offering a take on the complex relationships between nations through first-hand experiences and anecdotes makes this book an easy read. It also brings to life content that could otherwise easily be exceptionally dry, making you want to continue to learn. Not only does it describe what Marshall has seen and experienced in the past, but he considers his thoughts for the future of different nations. One focus is on how the rise of technology will affect the advantages and problems that are a result of a nation’s geographical features. Analysing both the past and the future cements the book’s position as both thought-provoking and relevant.

I would definitely recommend this as a perfect starting point for those wanting to understand international affairs and the causes of recent, extremely relevant political issues particularly for those interested in going into humanities subjects with a focus on politics and recent history, as it gives a fantastic concise, global overview. But I would also recommend this book to those wanting to go into the environmental sciences, as it really opens your eyes as to how basic geographical landforms have interacted with and determined the course of human civilisation. With little background knowledge being needed, this book can be enjoyed by all.

Prisoners of Geography: Ten Maps That Tell You Everything You Need to Know About Global PoliticsBy Tim Marshall
ISBN-10 : 1783962437
ISBN-13 : 978-1783962433

Try checking the availability of this book at your school or local library or explore second hand bookshops and websites. You may also wish to purchase from either Amazon or Blackwell’s.

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