Prisoners of Geography

Prisoners of Geography

Ten Maps That Explain Everything About the World

Book - 2015
Average Rating:
Rate this:
All leaders are constrained by geography. Their choices are limited by mountains, rivers, seas and concrete. Yes, to understand world events you need to understand people, ideas and movements - but if you don't know geography, you'll never have the full picture. To understand Putin's actions, for example, it is essential to consider that, to be a world power, Russia must have a navy. And if its ports freeze for six months each year then it must have access to a warm water port - hence, the annexation of Crimea was the only option for Putin. To understand the Middle East, it is crucial to know that geography is the reason why countries have logically been shaped as they are - and this is why invented countries (e.g. Syria, Iraq, Libya) will not survive as nation states. Spread over ten chapters (covering Russia; China; the USA; Latin America; the Middle East; Africa; India and Pakistan; Europe; Japan and Korea; and Greenland and the Arctic), using maps, essays and occasionally the personal experiences of the widely traveled author, Prisoners of Geography looks at the past, present and future to offer an essential guide to one of the major determining factors in world history.
Publisher: New York, NY :, Scribner,, 2015
Edition: First Scribner hardcover edition
ISBN: 9781501121463
Characteristics: 291 pages : maps ; 24 cm


From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment
SCL_Angela Mar 29, 2019

A good primer of geo-politics. I was reminded that I need to learn more and pay better attention to Africa history and news.

Oct 15, 2018

Interesting read, pulls lots of threads together (considering "only" one chapter per continent). Even if/as one might be familiar with world maps, overlaying some geography onto them and highlighting (hindsighting?) how, then, countries borders (or aspirations) took shape quite interesting. I did find the maps confusing (!), unfamiliar with the details of, say, the Indian subcontinent in the "India" Chapter, I found myself reading that chapter with a finger on three other pages at the three relevant maps, as I searched for the city or state or river or mountain range being referenced in the text.

Aug 26, 2018

I learned so, so much from this book! As another person commented, you’d have to read a huge number of articles, history books, and newspapers to get this much information. And it wouldn’t make such a concise picture as this book does. All those names on the news now fall into context. A fabulous book, well-written and so informative! It is well worth the time and has so much information in those 263 pages! Thank you, Mr. Marshall!

Jul 04, 2018

In addition to the positive comments from others, let me add a different slant. This book shows why the Middle East will be mired in perpetual inter-tribal warfare, at least for many generations. It also shows why Latin America will be stuck in mediocrity for many generations. There are some problems in the world that we can't solve in our lifetimes.

Apr 05, 2016

Prisoners of Geography: Ten Maps That Explain Everything About the World --- by --- Tim Marshall.
This well written but very readable book looks at ten areas on the globe and examines why and how they were virtually geographically pre-destined to become global flash-points. Russia, China, the Middle East. They’re among the players. And so, amazingly enough for most Canadians, is the Arctic. This book is an excellent backgrounder for understanding the issues that play out on news-casts everywhere.

Nov 17, 2015

[If you want a first-rate education, read this book, and if you want an incredible education, read this book and this article:,_maintaining_american_supremacy_in_the_twenty-first_century/ ]
Wow! The amount of geopolitical and sociopolitical analyses and cogent thought in this book is incredible - - the reader would have to read the most astute columnists in 500 to over 1,000 international newspapers and journals to get anywhere close to this author - - a journalist, but really a tremendous historian, since the term // journalist \\ can hardly be applicable to such professionalism and reality-based scholarship.
You will not be disappointed!


Add Age Suitability

There are no ages for this title yet.


Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.


Add a Quote

There are no quotes for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number

Subject Headings


Find it at MenloPark

To Top