Prisoners of Geography
by Tim Marshall
Published in July 2015
Thibault’s Score: 4/5
I first heard about this book through Caspian Report’s book review. Please check out his book review, and do yourself a favor, subscribe to his channel. His channel is my favorite on YouTube and provides a video a month with in depth geopolitical analysis.
The only regret was that I listened to the audio book. This book heavily relies on maps, so its much better when read on paper. Luckily I had PDFs and a great understanding of geography.
Instead of reviewing this book I will leave Caspian Report’s excellent video as I agree with most of what he says.
by Marco Polo
Published in 1300
Thibault's Score: 4/5
Recently I have been extensively studying China's One Belt One Road policy and wrote an article on the Startup Societies blog about it.
I wanted to improve my understanding of the historical context of the Silk Road, so naturally, I decided to read the Travels of Marco Polo. This book has helped me understand what was happening during the late Middle Ages in Central Asia and has broadened my understanding of steppe peoples.
Comparing Marco Polo's travels to the Silk Road is quite interesting:
Marco Polo's travels.
China's One Belt One Road policy.
Several stories that Marco Polo recounts struck me as particularly noteworthy.
For example, he describes a region where the women sleep with any men that visit. I looked it up and now wonder if they avoided Mongols raiding / stealing their women by sleeping with them voluntarily upon their arrival.
Another story which fascinated me was Marco Polo's descriptions of the treacherous deserts of Central Asia. "Ghosts" would lure travelers, whispering in the night and telling them to stray away from their caravans to their ultimate deaths.
I also didn't realize the degree of civilization that the Mongols had established. Their empire was highly centralized, and they had an extensive road network connecting all parts of the Eurasian landmass.
The Travels of Marco Polo is an amazing historical document that opens one mind up like few others can. It also has reinforced in my mind the important role to be played Central Asia in the coming decades.
Most of my articles are book reviews, but I also write about many other topics.