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The Power of Geography

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Member Reviews

I don't read a lot of non-fiction, as it usually fails to hold my attention for very long, but I read Prisoners of Geography a year ago and liked it a lot. I was keen therefore to read Marshall's new book, The Power of Geography, and enjoyed it even more. The fact that I read it just after it has been published, while it is still very up to date, probably helped.
Marshall has a writing style that is not dry at all and he does a great job of explaining how geographic facts and historical events have led to the current situation in different parts of the world.
I recommend this book and look forward to the next book in this series - I would love to read chapters about India, the former Yugoslavian countries, Scandinavia, Vietnam...

Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for a free electronic copy in return for an honest review.
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Synopsis: If you want to understand what's happening in the world, look at a map. Tim Marshall follows his global bestseller Prisoners of Geography with this sequel looking at 10 regions that are set to shape global politics and power. 

What I liked
- This book looks at less commonly covered areas. 
- Marshall took into account both the history of the areas as well as current affairs and recent changes in the political climate. 
- The focus for this sequel is the future which clearly shows in the chapter about space and space conflicts. 

What I didn’t like 
- The maps didn't show on kindle so I had to read this on my phone and iPad. 
- Marshall set the bar high with his first book and somehow this sequel felt a little less put together. 

Review on Instagram and Amazon (soon also on Goodreads).
I received a complementary eARC from the publisher via NetGalley in return for my honest review.
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The Power of Geography is the much-anticipated sequel to Prisoners of Geography, a book that illustrated that a countries choices are constrained by both its landscape and climate. In this follow-up Tim Marshall examines another ten countries of geopolitical interest; this time in terms of the importance they hold for the future, Marshall emphasises how crucial geography is to an understanding of global politics - and how surprising it is that this fact often gets ignored. The book explores different states and regions that are increasingly relevant to our current times and our future: a country’s story begins from its location, and what lies within and near its borders. Which way do its rivers flow and are they conducive to navigation and internal and external trade? Do the mountains on its borders limit its ability to expand, or protect it from a potentially hostile larger neighbour? Does the climate, topography and soil allow the growth of a large population as in the USA or, as in the case of Greece and Australia, limit it? This is a solid foundation upon which to layer history and current events to not only understand why events are happening, but to predict a country’s likely future behaviour. Maps reveal as much about a government’s strategy as any high-powered summit or overly blown rhetorical speech. If you want to go somewhere, you can only start from where you are.

That may sound obvious, perhaps trite, but a government or a leader forgets it at their peril. They must understand exactly where they are and how much fuel they have in the tank – Napoleon was not the first or last to forget that lesson and he was taught a harsh one in the Russian winter of 1812. An example in the book is Saudi Arabia. The tribal character of the country was forged in the heat of its deserts, and its place in the world is founded on its key resource underneath the sand. But when the oil was found the population was about 2 million. Now it is 34 million. If the world weans itself off oil, what sustains 34 million people in a country with limited agricultural land? The decisions the House of Saud is now making to diversify its economy are based on geography. Since the end of the Second World War, putting geography front and centre in international relations has been regarded with suspicion due to its alleged ‘determinism’, and has been eclipsed by hard economics and technology. The high priests of foreign policy, more in academia than in government, came to see it as poor thinking akin to fatalism. That, however, is in itself poor thinking and flies in the face of common sense. Russia’s President Putin did not take a keen interest in the 2020 election in Belarus due to its potential consumer market for Russian goods or as an emerging high-tech nation.

Every Russian leader involves themselves in the immediate territories west of Moscow because it is mostly flat land through which Russia has been invaded, or through which Russian power projects westward. In the case of Belarus it is also linked with the Suwalki Gap, connecting to the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad. It’s also the pathway to the Smolensk Gate – territory into which military forces are channelled during conflicts, recent examples being the Germans into Russia in 1941, and then the Russians into Poland and on to Germany two years later. What happens in Belarus is of huge interest to Washington DC, Berlin, Paris, Warsaw, Russia and others, and that interest is overwhelmingly based on the continuity of geography. When we see the news of pro-democracy demonstrations in Minsk, we are looking at people’s aspirations about freedom and economic wellbeing, but we are also looking at geographic insecurities. Words can tell you the ‘what’; maps can help you understand the ‘why’. Rivers, mountains, deserts, islands and the seas are determining factors in history. Leaders, ideas and economics are crucial, but they are temporary, and geography is ever present. As the Dutch-American geopolitical writer Nicholas Spykman said: ‘Geography does not argue. It simply is’. This is an accessible, fascinating and information-rich read filled with up to the minute facts and statistics about our would, its geography and the story that can be foretold from the way things are currently. Highly recommended.
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I read "Prisoners of Geography" almost one year ago. I bought the 2019 paperback version for my partner while I was at the airport in Malta...Just before news of Covid-19 broke. I think that reading this last year was timely and that Marshall's next installment is aptly-timed. 

While I enjoyed his previous book, I actually felt like I was learning more from this title. I believe that I felt that way because:

a.) it's more up-to-date. Even Marshall's decisions about which areas/regions/countries to include are incredibly relevant to this moment. I'd love to see another installment written in the same vein in five years as we consider movements such as BLM, the rioting in Northern Ireland, and-of course-Covid-19.

b.) Marshall appropriately places more focus on African countries and regions. Countries in Africa are often left out of conversations about geopolitics and yet if anyone is at all interested (or concerned) with China's determination to expand, then African countries are extremely important to talk about. As a Canadian, my understanding of the geography, history and politics of the African continent are lacking. Why isn't more African history and geography taught in school?

c.) the in-depth historical context that Marshall offers readers. In some chapters, I had NO awareness of the history or current events. I'm ashamed. However, I'm thankful for Marshall's accessible text for teaching me about the geopolitical issues that occurring right now ad why they're issues in the first place.

The only chapter that I didn't enjoy as much was the chapter focused on space. I'm not criticizing the text. This has to do with my lack of interest in space exploration and "colonization" of the moon and terraforming Mars. I don't like the attitude that some people have, which is: well if we're unable to survive on Earth (because we've killed it), we can just move to another planet (That's oversimplified—I realize). The lack of concern that many people have for the environment, animals and other human life is a problem. The lack of concern and poor attitudes need to change before we decide to move to space. Furthermore, these issues—I would argue—are why there are so many geopolitical issues for Marshall to write about in the first place. 

Lastly, my only gripe about this publication is that the images (maps) didn't translate on my ereader. I ended up referring to maps on my mobile phone while reading instead of being able to review the maps in the text.

I'll happily pick up any future publication that Marshall writes in this "series". May thanks to NetGalley and Elliott & Thompson Limited. I appreciate the opportunity to present my honest review about this ARC and hope that everyone reads this relevant, important and accessible nonfiction text!
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I was unable to review this book as the text and maps had not downloaded correctly making it unreadable.
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While this is not the typical book I read and review, I do have a degree in Geography and political geography was by far my favorite class. I have not read Tim Marshall’s “Prisoners of Geography.” I think I was supposed to at some point but didn’t. “The Power of Geography” tells how the physical landscape as well as history and political factors have landed countries in their current power positions. The regions covered were Australia, The Sahel, Greece, Turkey, the UK, Iran, Ethiopia, Saudi Arabia, Spain and Space. Each chapter provided a description of the landscape and a thorough history of the people and political struggles within the country. Some chapters I was definitely more familiar with the material at hand while others presented information I had never heard before. The book did feel very Euro and Middle East centric. While there is a chapter on the Sahel, it was one chapter covering numerous countries. Additionally the regions of North and South America, East Asia, and Subsaharan Africa were not represented. I do think this book can be read anyone. It doesn’t get caught in the weeds of large vocabulary words or niche references, though the dig against Mercator made my geographer’s heart happy.

Thank you to NetGalley and Elliott & Thompson for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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Tim Marshall has done it again! Marshall gives a stunning insight into the historical context of 10 different countries and their links to current affairs! A very interesting read for anyone who is interested in geopolitics
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Unable to review as full of gobbledygook printing errors and zero readable maps. Checked on severa devices.
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I'm a big fan of Marshall's work. He makes geography accessible and explains major events that somehow never get mentioned or investigated in the most common media channels and sources. He has a clear and accessible reading style and The Power of Geography is as up to date as its possible to be, including some early analysis of how Covid-19 has impacted geopolitical development. The entire book is a great way to zoom out and see the world with a wider lens.
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This book identifies some potential hot spots of geographical unrest or dispute in the future. We take for granted our borders and climate, however in some areas these have the potential to be political unstable as well. Identifying nine countries, the author gives a historical overview for each country followed by current and forecast problems. A great deal of information packed into one book. Excellent read and good book for anyone interested in future political/geographical developments. Thank you #netGalley for the copy.
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The book was very good. Great to learn about not only about how geography Influences countries, but also the history of those countries. 
Good to get information on countries I had not learnt much about, for example Saudi Arabia or Turkey. And the chapter in Ethiopia was fascinating and topical considering the ethnic conflict currently ongoing. 
My only downside would be the authors at times informal style. I feel the parts where his personal experience of the countries, for example protests in Iran didn't really add anything and seemed unecessary. 
But on the whole was a very interesting book.
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Prisoners Of Geography was a deserved smash, a clever angle to use geography to actually tell historical stories about current affairs, why the world is the way it is partially due to the way countries grew from their physical limitations. And so there is no shame in a sequel, and it is partially the fault of doing such a good job the first time around that what is left does feel like the off-cuts and crumbs from that book. The focus has shifted slightly, to look to the future. and how geography might affect future conflicts. But considering the land masses looked at in Prisoners were so massive, there is a little bit of going over the same ground.

The opening chapter on Australia is far and away the best thing here. Australia's position as a "Western nation" in the Pacific, its closest neighbours being a set of stepping stones to China, means its defence considerations are quite unlike that of other Western nations. Its huge mass and low population density (and inhospitability of much of the country to human life), makes it at difficult country to defend, and an example of how to use your minimal resources well. Potentially because conversations about Australia's defence from China are not commonplace meant this was genuinely eye opening. It may be more that because I understand more about the geography (and politics) of Greece and Turkey and Iran that those chapters felt less vital - and since much of the future Marshall is considering is that of war - also relatively contingent. Saudi Arabia on the other hand works better as a historical take down of an extremely problematic state. Indeed the section on Saudi / Iran and African States (particularly the Sahel), are less driven by physical geography than political, where lines were drawn on maps colonially in the 19th Century, and how Britain in particular withdrew from the Middle East. 

Like Prisoners, I learnt a lot here (and I am someone who already knows a passing amount about Ethiopian history and the Sahel) that Marshall tends to bring this back to conflict is perhaps part of his journalistic training but also binds him a bit to certain kinds of narrative. It definately feels like the Great Britain / Brexit chapter was forced in against his will and to be fair what he can add in thirty pages is minimal). His biggest bit of futurology here (and mapless in itself) is the idea of Space conflicts - and it is a decent primer though the subject in itself is knotty and is surprisingly geographical (once you consider the longitude of launch sites). I was disappointed there wasn't so much on the impact of climate change, which has the potential to significantly change the world's geography (not least what happens with sea routes if the Arctic breaks up), and whilst mass migration is mentioned the geography and politics of that is scant (though the Turkey / Greece aspect of that was well done). I enjoyed The Power Of Geography, but it did feel a little like a less cohesive sequel, and more a collection of individual briefings on various parts of the world, and a pessimistic one about human nature.
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"The Power of Geography: Ten Maps That Reveal the Future of Our World" by Tim Marshall Is a sequel to his previous book on this topic, “Prisoners of Geography” (which I have not read).  Mr. Marshall presents to us 10 areas of our planet (actually nine plus “space”) that may shape our near future and can also be viewed as potential hot spots.  Australia, Iran, Saudi Arabia, the UK, Greece, Turkey, the Sahel, Ethiopia, Spain, and space all get their own chapter which focuses on the geography, the history, current events, and potential future.

I was somewhat disappointed in this book; having thoroughly enjoyed Robert D Kaplan’s “The Revenge of Geography” I guess I was expecting something similar.  Although Mr. Marshall does review the geographical features of each of his areas, the majority of each chapter was spent summarizing the history of the area, focusing on the political more than the geographical.  The current situation and future paths all stemmed once again from the political situations and not how geography has played / will play a role in the future.  An interesting read for those wanting a quick historical overview of ten potential global hot spots.

I requested and received a free advanced electronic copy from Elliott & Thompson via NetGalley. Thank you!
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The Power of Geography by Tim Marshall is the sequel to Prisoners of Geography, which looks at 10 different areas around the world (as well as Space) and how their geopolitics have influenced their history right up to present day. 

The countries covered were Australia, Iran, Saudi Arabia, the United Kingdom, Greece, Turkey, The Sahel, Ethiopia, Spain and Space.

As with Marshall’s previous work I do think the analysis of Africa is not done with the same level of attention as Europe and the Middle East, but this could be because Africa doesn’t really hold global power despite being the most resource rich continent on the planet, and also the one with the youngest age demographic.

***Thank you to Netgalley and Elliot & Thompson for this ARC in exchange for an honest review.***
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A good book for anyone who is interested in geopolitics. In every chapter, devoted to a particular country or a region, you will find a description of the lay of the land, a short history, including recent developments, and a prognosis for the future. I liked the most parts focused on the “geo” part, because this fundamental aspect is often lacking in current affairs analysis. The history parts were a little cursory, but it isn’t a history book, after all.

The selection of presented countries seems a little arbitrary, but I like the fact that the author focused on smaller regions than in his previous book, “Prisoners of Geography”. The chapters I have found the most interesting were these devoted to the places I am less familiar with, like Sahel, Saudi Arabia, or Iran. 

Thanks to the publisher, Elliott & Thompson, and NetGalley for the advance copy of this book.
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A rather patchy book, with some lightweight assertions. I didn't read the first one so I was surprised by the limited nature of the geographical and political commentary. I'm not sure there's anything groundbreaking here. Perhaps if you never read international news. It's an ok book, but that's all.
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The Power of Geography is Tim Marshall’s “ follow-up” to the 2016 Prisoners of Geography. This book similarly takes the mantle on trying to unpick how geographical locations  have influenced the power and politics of ten specific countries ( well Space isn’t exactly ) . Each chapter explores the history and its impact on the chosen countries linked to geographical location and barriers and subsequent political strength and then looks to ahead to possible future implications. It is again a thoroughly well researched selection of essays and provides clear information of past events and the relationships between the selected countries and their neighbours and more broadly on a global scale. It is a fascinating  and thought provoking read. Global warning and the environmental impact may have a bigger implication on all our futures and the relationships between countries than is identified here. In 2021 in the midst of a global pandemic, this book ultimately  made me reflect that barriers and divisions between countries and continents will never allow us all to be truly global citizens and sadly perpetuates greed and division. An interesting book that I would dip back into again.
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5  stars

Just as good as the first book' Prisoners of Geography'.  Tim has updated the information for the 21st century.  I liked how he explained that some countries are trying to undermine the downsides of their own geography be that artificial islands in the china sea or tunnels through the Pyrenees.  The final chapter has an intresting take on the exploration and morality of space exploration/exploitation. 

I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
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A sequel to the original “prisoners of geography” book by the same author. 

This time around the author picks a new set of ten regions to explore. The reader learns about how the geography of each has influenced its relations with its neighbours and the rest of the world. The regions covered are:

1. Australia 
2. Iran
3. Saudi Arabia 
4. United Kingdom
5. Greece
6. Turkey
7. The Sahel
8. Ethiopia 
9. Spain 
10. Space 

I felt the book was written with somewhat an Eurocentric lens. On the whole, the dark histories of European countries are glossed over - particularly the British colonial past. The author does, however, provide a lot of detail about the dark side of the history for countries like Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Turkey. All regions have a violent and shameful past but you wouldn’t think it based on the first half of this book.

On the whole the book is written for a mass market audience and is easy to read. Each chapter is self-contained, which makes it easy to pick up and put down the book.
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This books explores the idea of evolving superpowers around the world which is fundamental in understanding the world at work. The readability of this book not only means I thoroughly enjoyed it but it will be a staple in my geography classroom,
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