Since approaching active retirement I have been reading thrillers and detective novels with great relish. They don’t mean much but a well-paced story is appreciated. I prefer real settings and have little appreciation of fantasy and the like. There has been less compulsion to read for professional purposes but there is time for some non-fiction.
These two books complement each other, one with a focus on the people in the global city of London and the other with the global geo-politics underlying most of the continuing conflict in the world.
Prisoners of Geography is not as deterministic as might be suggested by the title but outlines how mountain ranges, rivers and coasts have often been insufficiently considered when arbitrary international borders have been created – usually by a distant and colonising force. It is point that needs emphasising to those of us in a small island nation. The sub-title is “Ten maps that tell you everything you need to know about global politics” and each has it’s own complex geo-story. It includes insight to familiar conflict areas and surprises, too. I am sure your eyes will be opened to re-appraise at least one of these scenarios. We need this understanding.
This is London is sub-titled “Life and death in the world city.” It is more compelling with the strapline “The stories you never hear. The people you never see.” For it is the twenty-five geo-stories beneath the surface of the capital city that are, in some cases, shocking and always thought-provoking. It is unrelenting in exposure of inequality and exploitation. This is not tourist-London. It might not be seen taking place where you live but global connections ensure that we are dependant or complicit in one way or another.
Two important books for our times. Multiple geo-stories.