Prisoners of Geography by Tim Marshall

Prisoners of Geography

Prisoners of Geography is a New York Times bestseller that explains how geography shapes the fate of nations. The book uses ten maps of crucial regions to explain the geo-political strategies of world powers.

The author argues that geography, including mountains, plains, rivers, coastlines, climate, and natural resources, greatly influences political decision-making. Even seemingly arbitrary choices are driven by the Earth’s physical features.

The main theme of the book is that the location of a country dramatically affects its success and the amount of power it has in the world. This has determined the outcomes of major world events for centuries.

The book describes how geography can have a significant impact on international affairs, offering an explanation for geopolitical events such as Russia’s annexation of Crimea based on its need to retain access to warm-water ports and China’s actions in Tibet to enforce its border with India.

Useful takeaways from the book include:

  • Geography plays a significant role in shaping the fate of nations.
  • Leaders’ choices are often limited by geographic features such as mountains, oceans, rivers, and concrete.
  • The strength of an economy and a country’s success in wars are influenced by the geographic features and resources of the land.
  • The location of a country determines its power and success in the world.

What I Liked

All the things! This book really blew my mind and made the daily news cycle much more predictable. So much about geopolitics is structural…not about individuals. There are no stories, just the way things are…because there’s a mountain here or a resource there. Great read.

What I Did Not Like

Nothing – solid book all around.

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