Book Review | Prisoners of Geography | Tim Marshall
I had never been a geography person as a kid. Actually not in college as well. I would grunt and groan when my half-drunk idiot friends would start talking geography and associated trivia on the roof of the shady bar we used to frequent. My interest in geography is pretty recent actually. So, the book I am going to be talking about here is "Prisoners of Geography" by Tim Marshall.
Okay, to begin with, this is a frikking amazing book, especially if you are a geography noob like me. As the cover says the book talks about 10 maps across the world and how the geography in those 10 regions has affected the fate of that region, the growth or the lack of it, and how it still casts more than a shadow over the politics that govern the region. I think by the time I finish this review I will experience semantic satiation toward the word geography.
There were two things that really made the book a great read for me specifically.
One is the fact that the book is split into 10 disjointed small chapters, each focusing on one region, so it's like bite-sized consumption of information, You don't have to go in sequential order or have context. You can jump between chapters and pick and choose the ones you wanna read first. Also, every chapter you finish is like a tiny accomplishment, and that makes for a chill reading experience.
The other I was blown away by was the first paragraph Tim writes at the beginning of every chapter. Oh my, those first few lines were the highlight. And I would around the house bugging everyone by incessantly marveling at them. He is so succinct in his use of the words and yet manages to get the points across brilliantly! I especially loved the beginning of the chapter where he talks about the Middle East!
There are some chapters more interesting than others, but I think that is an individual preference. For me particularly, I was keen on reading about Russia, China, and most of all Africa. This book helped address some extremely fundamental questions I have had. I would always wonder about the rise of the European man over African. Africa is a tropical region with more vegetation, better-suited weather, and rich in natural resources and minerals. This seemed like a perfect setup for domination over colder Europe. But when you read through the details of this book, it brings out a completely different picture.
I have honestly been raving about this book so much that lots of people around me are now intrigued and want to pick it up, and I think you should too, even if you are not interested in geography as a subject. Well, to be honest, some of the information here may be a bit dated or you would want the perspective of the current government (given that the book came 6 years ago in 2015) but this is still a good read and I will tell you why. I think this book perfectly sets the context for the geopolitical situation of the world, throwing light on the ongoing conflicts and cautioning of upcoming ones. I would recommend all of you to read this book for sure!
PS: I think Tim Marshall has come out with another book called The Power of Geography, which I am tempted to pick up, but I have had enough geography for a while. I will pick it up towards the end of the year. Currently, I am on a hunt for a good memoir!