cover image The Power of Geography: Ten Maps That Reveal the Future of Our World

The Power of Geography: Ten Maps That Reveal the Future of Our World

Tim Marshall. Scribner, $27 (320p) ISBN 978-1-9821-7862-8

Mountains, deserts, and distances still leave a deep mark on national character and international relations, according to this fascinating exploration of geopolitics. Journalist Marshall (Prisoners of Geography) spotlights nine places, including Africa’s Sahel region, Australia, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey, whose locale, terrain, and climate shape their destinies. A dominant theme is how mountains weaken national stability by nurturing minority cultures and separatist movements in places like Scotland, Spain’s Basque region, and Turkey’s Kurdish areas. Deserts play a similarly disruptive role: the arid northern reaches of nations in the Sahel are incubating tribal Islamist movements that could tear them apart, and dry, thirsty Egypt has threatened war over Ethiopia’s damming of the Nile’s headwaters. Sheer proximity remains a perennial source of friction, as Australia frets about China’s encroaching naval presence and Greece and Turkey bicker over Aegean islands and their surrounding undersea gas fields. Marshall also examines superpower rivalry in space, which threatens the world’s indispensable satellite systems. Sprinkling the text with his own entertaining picaresques—precariously riding a camel, getting assaulted by cops at an Iranian street protest—Marshall offers an immersive blend of history, economics, and political analysis that puts geography at the center of human affairs. Maps. Agent: George Lucas, InkWell. (Nov.)