While my taste in books is fairly static, the routes that lead to my book purchases are fairly fluid and dynamic – random searches on Amazon, recommendations on twitter and even quick readings of blurbs in crowded shelves of bookshops. These deliberately random choices exciting when you finish a book and feel rewarded by a good read.

This book is a really good reward – well written, very informative with lasting insights yet easy to grasp. it highlights how geography has charted the course of nations. of course geography does not dictate the course of all events. great ideas and great leaders have a say but both are ultimately constrained by geography. The EU might be an economic and political construct but the long level networks of rivers made it a possibility in a way that the AU can never be. Talking of Africa, lines were drawn based on how far various colonial powers were willing to go in their expedition while being constrained by water bodies and malaria. These boundaries have become boundaries that have created artificial countries populated by nations that have little in common or dividing single nations across several boundaries.

Foreign policies and wars are fuelled by the fear of the other as well as by greed – conditioned by the hand that geography has dealt with each country. This explains Russia’s expansionist tendencies over the centuries, the mutual suspicion of China/India and the near-perpetual stand-off between India and its Pakistani neighbours.

In a world where climate change is a current threat, water (its availability and unavailability) is a diminishing resource that could set off chains of wars in regions of the earth. Entire nations’ foreign policies can be driven chiefly by a bid to protect water bodies that are critical for its commercial activities and power generation.

In summary, the land in which we live has always shaped us – how our nations relate with one another, our national fears and the national greed it allows our nations to cultivate. This is a very good book.


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