Kelley Moulton, Regional History Librarian, recommends Prisoners of Geography: Ten Maps That Explain Everything About the World by Tim Marshall.
I love maps. A map can tell us the political boundaries created by conquerors or leaders and at the same time show the natural boundaries and history as told by the rivers and mountains. One of the most memorable classes I took in college was a geography class. It involved memorizing physical attributes like rivers and mountains. The professor also encouraged us to think about geography beyond the lines representing the natural barriers, and to look at the political geography of the continents.
According to Merriam-Webster, political geography is “a branch of geography that deals with human governments, the boundaries and subdivisions of political units (such as nations or states).Political geography plays a huge role in the politics and cultures of each and every country, throughout history and to this day.
Prisoners of Geography: Ten Maps That Explain Everything About the World by Tim Marshall examines several scenarios in which geography has played a role in both the political history of various countries and continents as well as the impact that can still be felt because of the boundaries created by nature. Each of the main chapters looks at either a different continent or set of countries, tied together in some way.
For example, Western Europe covers a whole chapter and within those pages, Marshall does a small dive into why Europe was able to boom and at the same time have so many different cultures and languages develop in a relatively small area. Other chapters focus on the African continent, India and Pakistan, and the Arctic to name a few.
Marshall admits that geography is not the only element in play regarding any of these countries and continents. Trade, technology, and politics all play a huge part in the world in which we live.
In the end, we might all just be prisoners of geography. Geography, people, politics, and countries are all constantly changing. For better or for worse, only time will determine.