Much more than Current Affairs, but not quite a complete History, “Prisoners of Geography” is the place to begin your re-education of the world as we know it.
In a world where Current Affairs is the new Mass-Market Fiction, it can be hard to establish the facts from the fake news. When there are so many in depth analyses of every aspect of our world, sometimes a primer is the best way to educate yourself. That's what Prisoners of Geography is, it is a means to educate yourself. And one I strongly recommend everyone avail of.
Tim Marshall is an award winning foreign affairs and war correspondent. And such, much of his insight comes not just from thorough research, but from first hand experience. And while his writing does show a bias, it isn't to such a degree as to making the work unreliable, quite the opposite, his partial bias allows us more of a grasp into how things actually are.
Ostensibly this book is about Geography, specifically the geography of nations, and how this effects their foreign policy. But it is more than that. What this book attempts to do is allow you too see the world from the point of view of these nations. Marshall asks, what could be called an obvious question, if you were Russian, and your nation has been invaded countless times over a half a millennium, would you feel like an aggressive foreign policy was amiss? No you would not, it makes sense. And that's what is most interesting, and sometimes disturbing, about this book, is that so much of it just makes sense.
Divided into what the cover calls 12 maps, each analysis, of Europe, Russia, China (etc) provides a window—not into a world—from within that world; looking out. There is a sometimes an uncomfortableness with just how close you get to the truth. And constantly proposing the question, after the more you learn, how can you, without a doubt, state that you know what is right and wrong? Especially when its clear that we are just as wrong as we are right about the global affairs, and how geography effects them.
Told with a charming wit and style, the book is very accessible, as that is what it was designed to be. It is of no surprise to me that following the years after publication it has begun to show up on Secondary School (and higher) reading lists.
Perception changing, this is an invaluable source for someone looking to expand their knowledge of the world exponentially in just 300 pages. But beyond that it is laugh our loud enjoyable. And explained in a way, that makes it all so clear. Marshall is a man with a mission, a mission to show “the what and the why” behind the events we are living through; and this book is a great success along the path of that mission.