Prisoners of Geography by Tim Marshall
My Rating: 7 / 10
Prisoners of Geography would have to be one of the more interesting books about the world and how geo-politics has played a role in shaping it. Did you always wonder why India never fought China, why there is so much conflict in the Middle East and perhaps understanding Putin’s annexing strategies? This is all detailed in the book plus more! I know a lot about geography however I feel ignorant in my knowledge of geopolitics. Hence why I picked up this book to really understand how the world has been shaped and what we have to look forward to in the future!
Describing this book is difficult. It is certainly jam packed full of facts as you traverse through Russia, USA, Western Europe, Africa, Middle East, India and Pakistan, Japan and Korea, Latin America and finally the Artic; all separate chapters in the book. It is clear Marshall has done his homework as you learn about Putin’s strategy to expand Russia back into areas of the former Soviet Republic, the toxic relationships between Middle-Eastern countries based on European border line drawing and why Africa just cannot get itself together.
The book did take me a fair while to get through as I wanted to absorb and retain a lot of the information presented. It really did help me understand what the world looks like today and how it potentially could change tomorrow. An easy example would be that you will most likely never see India or China go to war given the Himalayas (it has never happened because of this mountain range). It is definitely well written and I believe any global citizen should read through it to learn more about the world we live in!
Three key takeaways from the book (its more than three given all the learnings from this book):
- If there was such a thing as a global real estate agent selling countries to prospective buyers…. the USA would be the #1 country to sell. It has two oceans, protected north by a very large landmass (i.e. Canada), a large river (the Mississippi River) that traverses middle America from north in Minnesota and ends in the Gulf of Mexico, the Great Plains and the Great Lakes and much more. This is just a small listing of the many assets that have helped drive the USA to being the super power it is today. Furthermore, it will retain this power for many decades to come despite current affairs.
- Marshall’s analysis of China has lead him to believe that China will take a lot longer to become a super power and estimated this may take a century versus a half century stated by some analysts.
- People do not realise just how big Africa really is. This is due to the Mercator world map view of Africa. To put this into perspective you can fit the US, Greenland, India, China, Spain, France, Germany and the UK into Africa and still have room for most of Eastern Europe. The problem with Africa is they just cannot work together.
- The Nile, is the longest river in the world (4,160 miles). I always thought the Amazon was the longest! And Egypt is one of the most densely populated countries in the world.
- Water wars are considered to be among the imminent conflicts this century and this will be one to watch.
- The Middle-East? East of Where? The regions name is based on a European view of the world and it is the European view of the region that shaped it. Europeans used ink to draw lines on maps: they were lines that did not exist in reality and created some of the most artificial borders the world has seen. Now attempts are being made to redraw these borders in blood.