Knowledge Of Geography From Sir Halford J. MacKinder From The Revenge Of Geography By Robert D. Kaplan

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Mackinder also gives this quote from 1890 about the knowledge of geography and how it stimulates our thinking about global affairs. From page 61-62 of The Revenge of Geography:

“Suppose I am told that a certain sample of wheat comes from Lahore, and that I do not know where Lahore is. I look it out in the gazeteer and ascertain that it is the capital of the Punjab…. If I know nothing of geography, I shall get up with the idea that Lahore is in India, and that will be about all. If I have been properly trained in geography, the word Punjab will… probably connote to me many things. i shall see Lahore in the northern angle of India. I shall picture it in a great plain, at the foot of a snowy range, in the midst of the rivers of the Indus system. I shall think of the monsoons and the desert, of the water brought from the mountains by the irrigation canals. I shall know the climate, the seed time, and the harvest. Kurachee and the Suez Canal will shine out from my mental map. I shall be able to calculate at what time of the year the cargoes will be delivered in England. Moreover, the Punjab will be to me the equal in size and population of a great European country, a Spain or an Italy, and I shall appreciated the market it offers for English exports.”

I wanted to share this with you because it shows me how little I really know or understand the geography of the globe. I was vastly overconfident in what I thought I understood. I now know I need a refresher course in geography!!!


Another Thought From The Revenge Of Geography By Robert D. Kaplan


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While reading this morning, I ran across this quote from Sir Halford J. Mackinder from page 62 that describes his philosophy about man and nature.

“Man and not nature initiates, but nature in large measure controls.”

Some Excerpts From The Revenge Of Geography From Robert D. Kaplan

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In the third chapter of The Revenge Of Geography, Kaplan discussed historians and William McNeil, who wrote The Rise Of The West: A History Of The Human Community in 1963, was a prominent figure.There are several things that he states that shows the importance of geography in how history plays out and wanted to share a couple of excerpts:

From page 42 in which Kaplan writes:

“History, according to McNeil, is a study in fluidity, in which things only seem secure and neatly geographically ordered: more crucially we are always in a state of smaller transitions and cultural interchanges.”

Kaplan writes at the bottom of page 42:

“While opposing Spengler, Toynbee, and later the ‘Clash of Civilizations’ theory of Harvard professor Samuel Huntingdon, in emphasizing the interaction of civilizations rather than their separateness, McNeil’s The Rise Of The West, nevertheless, engages the reader with the whole notion of civilizations formed in large measure by geography, that rise from precisely definable landscapes, achieve their own identity, and then interact with other civilizations, in turn forming new hybrids. In this way, history is woven. McNeil metaphorically describes the process:

Civilization may be likened to mountain ranges, rising through aeons of geologic time, only to have the forces of erosion slowly but ineluctably nibble them down to the level of their surroundings. Within the far shorter time span of human history, civilizations, too, are liable to erosion as the special constellation of circumstances which provoked their rise passes away, while neighboring peoples lift themselves to new cultural heights by borrowing from or otherwise reacting to the civilized achievement.”

The basic premise of what Kaplan brings forward with these excerpts gives me a theme in which to base the rest of the book and his premise about geography and its relation to history. I will keep an eye out as I read to see

Currently Analytically Rereading: The Revenge Of Geography By Robert D. Kaplan

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Back in October of 2012, I read this book for the first time and I decided to reread it again so I could share more with our readers about this important topic. This book brings a perspective to readers that geography plays more than an part in the evolving global scene and that globalism is important but not all triumphant.

A couple of excerpts so far discussing policy and how nations should think about their policies. From page 26:

“For wise policymakers, while aware of their nation’s limitations, know that the art of statesmanship is about working as close to the edge as possible, without stepping over the brink.”

This brings to mind, what nation’s are doing this now in order to reach their goals? Which countries have overstepped and misread their policies? Which countries are attempting to position themselves to move closer to the so-called edge?

Kaplan shows us that leaders, when they deal with realism, understand that it is more of an art than a science. He uses this example in the next excerpt:

“Modern realism was perhaps most comprehensively summed up in 1948 by Hans J. Morgenthau in Politics Among Nations: The Struggle For Power And Peace. Let me pause awhile with this book, the effort of a German refugee who taught at the University of Chicago, in order to set the stage for my larger discussion about geography: for realism is crucial to a proper appreciation of the map, and in fact leads us directly to it.”

In rereading this, I plan to get a better understanding of why nations act the way they do and what part geography really plays in this.


The Revenge of Geography

I finished reading The Revenge of Geography by Robert D. Kaplan and was very impressed with the book. It was an excellent lesson in getting me up to speed in world affairs and the inner workings of how geography plays a part in country’s relationships with each other.

Two things that I will have to focus on: How does the culture (i.e. religion, history, traditions and other various impacts on people) on moving a country forward whatever type of political system that they have?

Second, The United States situation with Mexico in my opinion is extremely fragile and the points Mr. Kaplan brought out I was not aware of. I was aware that NAFTA had an impact but I had not considered the implications. I will be commenting on this further as I think about it some more.

I would give this five stars out of five, as I found this a very thought-provoking book and was very educational in world studies. I would appreciate comments in where our audience sees the danger zones in the next several decades.

Currently Reading: The Revenge of Geography by Robert D. Kaplan

I am currently about halfway through with The Revenge of Geography by Robert D. Kaplan. I am finding this to be a fascinating book and it gave me these thought provoking questions to consider:

All the world is basically having to live with the geography that they are given, yet countries are constantly trying to expand their territories. In what areas of our lives, do we constantly battle,when we seemingly cannot control our circumstances?

We have those situations that are unexplainable (Black Swan events). What about stock market crashes such as the one in 1987.

How should we really prepare for these type of situations?

Also recently purchased:

The Success Equation by Michael J. Mauboussin

Spillover by David Quammen

Reamde by Neal Stephenson