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Why Geography Matters: Three Challenges Facing America: Climate Change, the Rise of China, and Global Terrorism by [de Blij, Harm]
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Length: 320 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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"Remarkable.... A friendly and accessible reader for those who have a basic grasp of some of the concepts of geography and who want to understand where the world is headed. It is also an urgent call to educators across the United States to restore the study of geography to the nation's schools.... A powerful and deeply personal writer, de Blij discusses his own background in detail and fills the book with anecdotes from his experience. This makes for an entertaining and enlightening trek."--David J. Smith, Christian Science Monitor"A provocative, fast-paced book that interprets the world through the dynamic discipline of geography. The remarkable chapter on Africa is at once compelling and tragic, but also cautiously hopeful. If you think that geography makes your eyes glaze over, try this book and you'll discover insights you've never encountered before."--David Miller, Senior Editor, National Geographic Maps"Harm de Blij packs so much useful information and so many thoughtful insights into Why Geography Matters that the book is indispensable to those seeking to understand our complex, changing world. The United States State Department would be well served to make this book required reading for all newly recruited foreign service officers and diplomats--and it is strongly recommended for all citizens.... de Blij demonstrates persuasively how the tools and findings of geographers are indispensable in understanding the world today. In its scope, analytical balance, power, originality, and readability, Why Geography Matters is a matchless book; the riveting chapter on Africa is the best summation of the continent's past and prospects I have ever read." --Willard DePree, Former United States Ambassador to Mocambique and Bangladesh, On Special Assignment to the Department of State"De Blij writes from a conviction that not only the American public but also government officials can be dangerously ignorant of basic geography, so to enlighten them he discusses three topics with national security implications. His tour of Islamic radicalism has the most immediate relevance and, buttressed by a profusion of maps, it covers Afghanistan, Iraq, the Islamic "front" in sub-Saharan Africa, and--Paraguay? Learning the significance of that outlier to the geography of Islamic terrorism (as well as its unappeasable aims) typifies many of de Blij's informational surprises, which are arranged clearly and spiced with the author's allusions to his career and travels."--Booklist

About the Author

Harm De Blij is Distinguished Professor of Geography at Michigan State University. The author of over 30 books, he is an honorary life member of the National Geographic Society and was for seven years the Geography Editor on A.B.C.'s "Good Morning America."

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 5663 KB
  • Print Length: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press (1 Sept. 2005)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0041KLBLC
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,168,748 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0x9bdc47b0) out of 5 stars 46 reviews
141 of 151 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9b9e93b4) out of 5 stars Indispensable guide to the contemporary world 26 Aug. 2005
By Roman P - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
H.J. de Blij is one of those rare academics and writers who has never lost focus on real issues and challenges affecting our world. As a veteran and highly skilled geographer he is diligently observant, seeks connections and relationships between issues, and places them into an essential geographic context. This is a book about three major challenges facing the US (and the world)- Climate Change, the Rise of China and Islam . It's a book that (thankfully) challenges the sterile prevailing world view and propaganda peddled by many politicians in the US and elsewhere. It is insightful, honest, extremely thought-provoking and says what needs to be said in carefully analyzed and logical sections. Finally, it is beautifully written and easy to read in a style that is engaging, interesting and rich with facts. Highly recommended. Buy it and I guarantee, you will never quite look at these specific challenges or the world in the same way again. It paints a future that is difficult and uncertain and dark in some respects. But far from hopeless. The question is whether the decision and policy makers will rise to these challenges in an enlightened and serious manner? H. J de Blij lays out the challenges in no uncertain terms - how they will be addressed by the international community and the US in particular, remains to be seen. The stakes are very high indeed.
56 of 61 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9b9e9408) out of 5 stars A brilliant work 26 Sept. 2005
By Seth J. Frantzman - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
This quite brilliant study uses maps to explain the challenges to America and the world. He analyzes the truth about global warming and delves into the topics such as the decline of Europe and Russia, the mess of Africa and the Islamist and Chinese threat to the world. He looks at the conflict potential of powerful china vis-à-vis America. Then he looks at the `front line' of Islam, in Africa and elsewhere. We see here the true front of terror, the countries where Islam is a border state suffer the most terrorism, i.e Sudan, Nigeria, Phillipines, Israel, Yugoslavia, Russia, China. This is a concise geographers view of the world, for those who feel most books don't include enough maps this is a wonderful change, the maps here are excellent and help prove the point and enlighten the reader.

Highly recommended, this book completes the set of new books to detail the new world order(Clash of Civilizations and Pentagons New Map). A wonderfully written, daring and original work.

Seth J. Frantzman
28 of 33 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9a2f924c) out of 5 stars hard to define book 25 May 2006
By Robert Clark - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
This book covers so much information it is difficult to define. One way is as a world history with an emphasis on geography and a lecture on world politics (albeit I agree with most of his lecture). He talks primarily about climate change, population, China, Russia, Europe, Africa and terrorism.

It could have been great but there are just too many shortcomings.

1. Obviously the editor did not spend too much time on this book (i.e., misspellings and incorrect word choice and basic facts that are glaringly wrong). The issue here is missing the simple mistakes makes me wonder about his other facts. One simple mistake is 127 billion people in Japan (pg 97). This leads to the next point.

2. No footnotes, this is huge to me. Most of his facts were not backed up with a source.

3. Misquotes and incorrect definitions of words and terms.

For example, "Spy, but verify" instead of "Trust, but Verify"

Also, "spy plane" in regards to the EP-3 is factually incorrect. The EP-3 is a reconnaissance plane that was on an overt (not covert) mission over international waters.

Overall, I still enjoyed the book and recommend reading it (please skip the first chapter or at least speed read through it). I would not reference the book's facts without checking them somewhere else first.
15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9b9e9690) out of 5 stars An interesting book 29 Dec. 2005
By Jill Malter - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Suppose the University of Michigan loses a football game to Nebraska by a score of 32 to 28. What do you think the reaction will be of Wolverine fans in those little villages one can spot on a map, Goblu and Beatosu? As this book explains, there won't be any. Some impish cartographer simply made these hamlets up! And there's a moral to this story. Maps can be used to deceive people, or simply tell outright lies. Yes, geography can be important!

However, the main thrust of this book is to cover a huge amount of ground in trying to put three main issues into geographic perspective. The issues are, of course, climate change, the rise of China as a global force, and the threat of Islamic terrorism. That means understanding the geography of the present, so that one can assess what may be happening.

This book does cover plenty of ground, and I'm sure there will be quite a few people (including myself) who feel the author has not only made a bunch of minor errors here and there but has also taken a number of interesting and controversial stands without being completely convincing. For example, just how solid is the evidence for a link between the Uralic languages and Japanese? And how sure are we that around 10,000 years ago, an enormous ice sheet slid into the Atlantic, sending a wall of water into the Mediterranean and then into the Black Sea which caused the water to rise at a rate of 6 inches per day, until the water level was 500 feet higher?

Still, I think de Blij has some useful and valuable material about the three main questions. He does a good job of telling about the ice ages of the past 400,000 years. Basically, there have been four ice ages, with an average length of about 80,000 years, with warm periods between them lasting about 20,000 years. That is the big picture. And it means that we probably ought to think about what sorts of climate changes the several billion people on this planet may need to get ready for.

The next interesting topic is demographics. Just what population changes seem to be occurring right now? Only a generation ago, many folks assumed that the world's population would grow catastrophically until some disaster stopped it. Now it appears that this may not be the case: in many areas, populations are declining right now. Italy and Germany are good examples of this phenomenon, and de Blij predicts that the total population of the anticipated 27 nations of the European Union will drop during the next 50 years and more, staying under 500 million. That means that the political and military influence Europe, which used to dominate the world, may continue to decrease. And the author shows us plenty of maps of portions of Europe which put some of its issues into much better perspective.

We also see maps of Russia (another nation with a declining population) and China, and some interesting speculations about their futures. And there is a map showing the "front" between the Islamic and non-Islamic portions of Africa that the author uses to discuss various threats of religious strife there.

Obviously, our civilization faces many potential threats, and the future is quite uncertain. But I agree that we ought to consider threats that we're already able to see, and I think it is proper to start by looking intelligently at the present situation and at fundamental trends. I think the author makes a good effort to do just this.
16 of 20 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9b9e98d0) out of 5 stars Informative if slightly unfocused 19 Oct. 2005
By C. Griffith - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Although I did find, as one of the editorial reviews said, this book to be slightly unfocused, I believe that its virtues much outweigh this slight imperfection. De Blij provided me with relevant information that I was unaware of, such as:

1) The Shia population in Iraq generally follows a more apolitical, less publicly assertive form than the Shia in Iran. This may have some relevance to current events in Iraq.

2) Rightly or wrongly, the Chinese government has strong disagreements with a number of neighboring countries about where their mutual borders should be located.

3) The population decline in Russia is especially severe in the far eastern parts of Siberia, which isn't dense populated to begin with. Thus the migration of Korean and Chinese into these parts of Siberia could have more political implications than would be the case if there was a large Russian population in this area.

De Blij does give several examples where spatial proximity is relevant to current events, thus supporting his contention that spatial arrangements are important for predicting future events (for example recent conflicts in Africa have arisen in several countries in which the dividing line between majority non-Musim and majority Muslim populations occur). I agree with one of the editorial reviews that this is a bit vague, but I think it is nonetheless a worthwhile point to keep in mind.

He may be a bit hard on Islam, in that I can think of more than one religion that has texts that express ideas I find alarming.
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