Prisoners of Geography
All leaders are constrained by geography. Their choices are limited by mountains, rivers, seas and concrete. Yes, to follow world events you need to understand people, ideas and movements – but if you don’t know geography, you’ll never have the full picture.

If you’ve ever wondered why Putin is so obsessed with Crimea, why the USA was destined to become a global superpower, or why China’s power base continues to expand ever outwards, the answers are all here.

In ten chapters (covering Russia; China; the USA; Latin America; the Middle East; Africa; India and Pakistan; Europe; Japan and Korea; and the Arctic), using maps, essays and occasionally the personal experiences of the widely travelled author, Prisoners of Geography looks at the past, present and future to offer an essential insight into one of the major factors that determines world history.

Prisoners of Geography Details

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Prisoners of Geography Reviews

  • Charis
    Sep 26, 2016


    Absolutely brilliant. So many modern political commentaries focus on the dynamics between nation-states and the personalities of their leaders, the uses and consequences of modern technology, but forget that geography played as much a role in the history of conflict, as it does in the ...

  • Riku Sayuj
    Sep 20, 2016

    Riku Sayuj

    Marshall could have kept up the initial presentation and analysis throughout the book, but at some point the editors decided to shorten the pages and compress regions together. As a fellow reviewer says, "It is solid stuff, but after some time this geography thing gets a bit repetitive...

  • Kirk Bown
    Sep 19, 2016

    Kirk Bown

    One of the most interesting books I've read for years. It's a great book for helping to understand what's going on in the world today. ...

  • Pat Rolston
    Sep 17, 2016

    Pat Rolston

    This is well conceived and well written with information enhancing the readers ability to have a better grasp of geopolitics. The clever premise makes for very enjoyable reading while marrying contemporary and historical factors that are extremely interesting. I suggest this book combi...

  • Paul
    Sep 15, 2016


    A really interesting brief discussion of each of several politically interesting parts of the world and how physical geography has either propelled or restrained the people and governments there. I don't know enough to say whether the arguments would stand up to serious scrutiny, but i...

  • Lisa
    Sep 3, 2016


    This is an amazing journey through the world, zooming out of particular localities and looking at the geographical shape of bigger areas that helped form the history, culture and population of the world we share. I read the first chapters on Russia, China, Europe, USA and Africa consta...

  • Dana Stabenow
    Aug 28, 2016

    Dana Stabenow

    Brisk, well written, continent by continent (excluding Australia) survey of how geography is destiny, beginning with Putin going down on his knees every night to ask God why He didn't put mountains in Ukraine. I really liked the way Marshall organized it, too. The first chapter is Russ...

  • Josh Duxbury
    Aug 21, 2016

    Josh Duxbury

    I was going to give this 3 stars but the unnecessarily cliche conclusion reduced this to two. After providing a very basic overview of geopolitics in 10 regions, the author prescribed a method to save the world by working together as 'humanity', not as nations. He has ignored the fact ...

  • Will Once
    Aug 20, 2016

    Will Once

    The premise of this book is interesting - that much of international politics is about geography. Country A doesn't go to war with country B because there is a range of mountains between them. Country C enjoys a strong trading economy because it has access to the sea. And so it goes.Mo...

  • Shaunak Bhatt
    Aug 14, 2016

    Shaunak Bhatt

    Anyone who has ever wondered why countries fight for small pieces of land or islands/rocks in the middle of nowhere needs to read this book. A nice read on foreign policies and how geography dictates the stances taken by different countries be it in arctic, eastern Europe or south chin...