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Why Geography Matters: Three Challenges Facing America: Climate Change, the Rise of China, and Global Terrorism First Edition Edition

46 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0195315820
ISBN-10: 0195315820
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

De Blij, a geography professor and former National Geographic Society editor, seeks to rekindle interest in his discipline with this unfocused survey of the world and its discontents. Struggling to describe his notoriously hard-to-define field, de Blij suggests that geographers "look at things spatially" as opposed to "temporally" or "structurally," the "things" being a grab bag of phenomena, including climate, topography, demographics, national boundaries and the distribution of languages, religions, energy deposits and pipelines. It's an often illuminating perspective, nicely visualized in the book's many splendid maps. Unfortunately, while mapping things spatially is a very useful methodology, it doesn't add up to a coherent analytical framework, and often boils down to simply compiling information about places. As a result, de Blij's discussions of global developments, including European integration, the decline of Russia, Africa's ongoing travails and the three challenges mentioned in the title, amount to extremely well-informed but hardly groundbreaking rehashes of conventional wisdom. (Aug.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Geography professor 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, including China. His observations of attitudes and changes he's seen there are sober divinations of the cold war potential vis-a-vis China and the U.S. The putative threat of global warming receives de Blij's somewhat contrarian assessment, an outgrowth of his geographic summary of the ice age gripping the earth right now, geologically speaking. Accessible expertise vital for the current-events display. Gilbert Taylor
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; First Edition edition (February 12, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195315820
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195315820
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 0.8 x 6.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (46 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #748,438 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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More About the Author

Harm J. de Blij, Michigan State University. Peter O. Muller, University of Miami. Richard S. Williams, Woods Hole Research Center.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

141 of 151 people found the following review helpful By Roman P on August 26, 2005
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.
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56 of 61 people found the following review helpful By Seth J. Frantzman HALL OF FAME on September 26, 2005
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
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28 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Robert Clark on May 24, 2006
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.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Jill Malter on December 28, 2005
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.
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