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1-Page Summary of Prisoners Of Geography

Overall Summary

Tim Marshall’s book, Prisoners of Geography: Ten Maps That Explain Everything About the World, was published in 2015 and became a New York Times bestseller. The book describes how geography—mountains, plains, rivers, coastlines, climate and natural resources—shape the fate of nations. It also considers how other influences—religion, culture language and ethnicity–interact with local geography.

Chapter 1 explores Russia, where the North European Plain opens a path from western European armies directly into Russia. This has contributed to Russians’ desire to control a buffer zone of countries between it and the rest of the world. Moving eastward, Chapter 2 describes how China’s borders are delineated by its natural formations such as the Tibetan Plateau, Himalayas jungles deserts and Pacific Ocean even while it is able to reach out to other parts of the world through trade and military might.

Chapter 3 discusses India’s unique location in South Asia that has allowed it to develop strong ties with nearby countries while also making it vulnerable due its long coastline on one side and mountainous northern border on another side. In addition, Chapter 4 focuses on Pakistan’s location within both Central Asia (through its northwestern area) and South Asia (through its southern region). It is separated from all land-locked countries except for Afghanistan but connected via sea routes with Iran at one end of Iran’s coast line and Oman at another end.

Chapter 3 examines the United States, a nation with many resources and good geography. It has generally enjoyed stability because of its common language and heritage. Chapter 4 looks at Europe, which is divided by mountains and rivers, contributing to separate nations with different languages and cultures that are prone to war.

Chapter 5 discusses the many challenges that Africa has faced, such as geographic barriers and political borders. The north is covered with a desert, while the south is full of jungles. There are also mountains in the middle of the continent. These factors have made it hard for Africans to develop their land and prosper economically.

Chapter 6 explores the Middle East, where mountains and deserts alternate. Borders also create conflict in this region. Chapter 7 focuses on Pakistan and India, which have fought over the Kashmir region for decades. Other internal pressures are present as well.

Chapter 8 discusses Japan and South Korea. They were divided after World War II, but they rely on alliances with larger nations to preserve a precarious peace. Meanwhile, the nation of Japan has drawn together a series of isolated islands to create an economic force that far exceeds its physical size.

Chapter 9 will cover the difficulties of Latin America. The Amazon rainforest is not being conserved, and land for farming has been limited because of a growing population. To top it off, there’s also political neglect in this region. Chapter 10 will focus on another region that’s important to global warming: the Arctic Ocean. Global warming has melted ice caps, opening up new areas for mining and drilling. This area is now becoming a point of conflict over resource extraction as well.”


Tim Marshall begins his article by stating that “the land on which we live has always shaped us.” He explains how the geography of a place affects politics and warfare. For example, Russia is worried about Ukraine because it’s mostly flat and open; this allows for enemies to attack from any direction. In contrast, China and India have never fought each other because they are separated by high mountains.

Prisoners Of Geography Book Summary, by Tim Marshall