When I need answers, I look for a new perspective with back-up.

As I travel to genealogy events and to do field research in libraries and archives with special genealogy collections, I try to visit bookstores–both used and new–seeking what is new. Let me introduce you to a new book I discovered at Vroman’s Bookstore in Pasadena CA.

Prisoners of Geography: 10 Maps that Explain Everything About the World by Tim Marshall. (New York: Scribner–an imprint of Simon and Schuster, 2015). His premise is that “geography shapes not just history but destiny.” After gaining best-seller status in the New York Times Book Review, the book has been updated to reflect the events of 2016 that impact our geographical dependency.

See my Tennessee blog for a specific application of what he outlines. Here I want to share my reaction to the facts presented. Beginning with Russia and the top of the world, Marshall covers China, the United States, Western Europe, Africa, the Middle East, India and Pakistan, Korea and Japan, Latin America, and the Arctic. Each section is introduced by an area map showing current boundaries, major rivers and bodies of water, mountain ranges shown as embossed surfaces on the land in black and white.

No footnotes; bibliographies for each area; general index. And compelling descriptions of the geographic features as they interrelate to events, persons, and relationships.

The author is a  “former foreign correspondent for Britain’s Sky News television, reporting from thirty countries, including six war zones over his 25-year career.” His website: http://TheWhatAndTheWhy.com.

By studying the maps and the geographical relationships on the ground, you can see the limits and the probabilities of migrations, languages,peacetime affiliations, and understand the concept of balance of power. You can even determine which place is the capital and seat of power for each country.

Political divisions occur naturally when local people who get along, intermarry, bargain and barter, form alliances to ensure their own well-being. Artificial boundary divisions created for political rule ensure conflict and chaos. Peoples who hate each other, regardless of language similarity, physical boundaries, and even DNA affinity, do not govern together with peace. These require balance-of-power governance.

Compromise! Why can’t they compromise for their own good and the good of the whole? Look at the geographical elements on the map. What has to be protected? What natural boundaries exist that can be self-sustaining: oceans, high mountain peaks, large lakes, fast-running wide rivers, frozen plains. Real compromise is supported by facts.

Add this title to your late Fall/early Winter reading list. It will rejuvenate your search for migration routes taken by your ancestors. It will give you a new understanding of who settled next to whom in the New World and why. You will find genealogy evidence that you thought was lost forever with Marshall’s insights running through your mind. Your favorite genealogist, Arlene Eakle  http://arleneeakle.com

PS When I get stumped and don’t know where to look for the answers, I go looking for a book where the author has laid out a new premise of what happened and why. I prefer footnotes, “chatty” ones, that lead me to sources I did not think of. And I will take a good bibliography that supports the new perspective. This is one of those books. Try it!

This entry was posted in Blog. Bookmark the permalink.