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Why Geography Matters: More Than Ever 2nd Edition

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ISBN-13: 978-0199913749
ISBN-10: 0199913749
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Editorial Reviews

Review


"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 Mozambique 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


"If the author did nothing more than evince the extent to which geography is political destiny, he would have accomplished a worthwhile objective. But he succeeds in much more, raising thought-provoking issues on global warming, terrorism, China's ascendancy, Europe's future, Russia's role, and Africa's prospects, issues our legislative and executive branches of government as well as members of the media need to consider in geographic perspective. Every person responsible for making public policy, as well as those who interpret these complex issues for the public, should read this book."--Anthony H. Ewing, former Director of the Committee on Research Coordination for the Science Advisor, Office of Science and Technology Policy, Executive Office of the President


"Illuminating perspective...splendid maps...useful methodology...extremely well-informed."--Publishers Weekly


"[Here], de Blij argues that geographic ignorance is a more serious problem than many people think. De Blij, an accomplished academic and regular television geography analyst, writes that by gaining a greater working knowledge of geography, Americans will be better suited to deal with the problems facing the country and the world. De Blij makes a good case for geography's importance. [His] treatment of this subject is particularly refreshing.--San Francisco Chronicle


"If we could mandate reading material for our leaders, [this] would be at or near the top of the list. It provides a plethora of insights."--Cape Cod Chronicle


"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


"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


"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 Mozambique and Bangladesh, On Special Assignment to the Department of State


"Nobody knows how to explain the importance of geographic literacy to citizens and leaders of the United States better than Harm de Blij. As the NBC News "geography analyst" explains in his 30th book, "Why Geography Matters," geography is much more than memorizing mountain ranges and estuaries."--Pittsburgh Tribune Review


"De Blij argues that most people in the United States, including the country's elected officials, are dangerously ignorant of basic geography. The consequence, he writes, is that leaders lack insights to connections in a world facing climate change, overpopulation, and the continuing threat of terrorism."--Science News


"eloquent and encyclopedic" --The New Yorker


About the Author


Harm de Blij is John A. Hannah Professor at Michigan State University. He was the popular Geography Editor on ABC's "Good Morning America" for seven years, worked at NBC News as Geography Analyst, and was the writer of and commentator for the original PBS Series "The Power of Place." The author of over 30 books, he is an honorary life member of the National Geographic Society.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 2 edition (August 17, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199913749
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199913749
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 1 x 6.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (38 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #7,935 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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

42 of 45 people found the following review helpful By Roman P on September 6, 2012
Format: Paperback
I recently returned from delivering a series of lectures at the Library of Alexandria, Egypt. Over 2300 years ago, the ancient library was the cradle of learning embracing many sciences and disciplines, including cartography and geography. Even thousands of years ago, the great thinkers and intellectuals of the time had an insatiable curiosity for the world, and attempted to understand the essential relationships between people and places. Following my lecture, there was a question and answer session. The audience included students and academics, many of whom had participated in the epic street protests that toppled the 30 year dictatorship of Mubarak. It was inspiring how geographically literate and spatially aware these young people are - especially in terms of understanding and explaining the social, economic and geo-political forces driving their revolution with its historic changes but also great risks and uncertainties. As the discussions unfolded in Alexandria, I found myself constantly referencing many of the ideas and concepts outlined in this magnificent book - and its earlier version, Why Geography Matters? How often can you say that a contemporary book directly supports and explains complex world events such as those unfolding across the Arab World and elsewhere for that matter. For anyone trying to understand our complex and dynamic world - geography REALLY matters - and this book offers not only a unique trove of concepts and ideas, but links them clearly and directly to world events. This includes those in progress like the Arab Spring and remarkably, the book offers detailed insights into how these events might unfold in future impacting not only the host regions but the wider inter-connected world. Enlightening, inspirational, sobering in places, full of wit and wisdom and simply, an essential read.
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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Freelance Geographer on February 23, 2013
Format: Paperback
As a geographer, perhaps I am a bit biased. But de Blij's book on Geography is a great, if imperfect introduction, to the world of geography for the layperson. You will not come of this book with a complete understanding of geography, but instead an introduction to problems, concepts, and global issues that can be investigated with geography as a lens of inquiry.

China's relationship with the world, the rise of Islam in world society, and components of Africa's place in the global community are all addressed. If you want a thesis or rigorous defence of these topics, you'll come out disappointed. Instead, you receive a competent and relevant review of basic global interactions and the way geography and geographic relationships shape and relate with these interactions.

This book should be only the first step into understanding geography's role in analyzing the world. Do not expect it to answer all your questions, but instead, provoke more.
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19 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Appy on January 17, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Having completed high school geography 28 years ago and one year of geography and environmental science at uni 20+ years ago, I have retained a broad interest in geography and the world at large ever since. At first, I liked de Blij's style of writing and I found the book to be an engaging read. It certainly makes me want to continue to read even more more about History and Human Geography, particularly from the perspective of Muslim, African / African American and European scholars amongst others. In my opinion de Blij pushes an anti Islamic, fear China agenda and fails horribly in his chapter on Africa. It would be interesting to hear what people from the other continents have to say about the chapters on their continents, including China, Russia and Europe.

To make one example from the book, de Blij writes that "Some economic geographers describe Brazil's relationship with China as a clear case of neocolonialism: in 2010 more than 80 percent of its exports to China were raw materials, while nearly all of Brazils' imports from China were manufactured goods, with a huge negative impact on Brazil's own industries. On the other hand, the growing trade in Soybeans has lifted hundreds of thousands of farmers out of poverty." What de Blij has failed to mention is that American owned companies such as South American Soy own thousands of acres of farm land in Brazil, and if the CIA World Factbook 2012 is to be trusted, then the agricultural industry only makes up 5.5% of Brazil's GDP.

Brazil's unemployment rate is 21.4%. Industry makes up 27% of GDP and the services sector 67%. Brazil's agricultural sector is made up of coffee, wheat, rice, sugarcane, citrus, beef, cotton, corn and soybean.
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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Alex on August 1, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is an excellent and eye-opening take on the future of the globe and the US' standing in that sphere. Putting that aside, it can be hard to overcome the perception that De Blij is not always the most objective of writers, particularly where Islam is concerned. While raising valid concerns and interesting points about the geography of Islam and its spread, he neglects to employ neutral language and seemingly hounds Islam for practices and beliefs that are almost universal in the realm of religion (from Christianity to Islam to Athiesm).
Finally, his form of presentation is that of the professor who believes that his field is the only important field. De Blij states that history and mathematics are over emphasized in the modern school system. Whether or not this is true can be left to the reader; be aware whilst reading that the book is not merely an attempt to state fact but also opinion.
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