Why Geography Matters
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Why Geography Matters

3.59 of 5 stars 3.59  ·  rating details  ·  231 ratings  ·  27 reviews
Over the next half century, the human population, divided by culture and economics and armed with weapons of mass destruction, will expand to nearly 9 billion people. Abrupt climate change may throw the global system into chaos; China will emerge as a superpower; and Islamic terrorism and insurgency will threaten vital American interests. How can we understand these and ot...more
Kindle Edition, 320 pages
Published (first published July 8th 2005)
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I would describe this book as the incoherent—but occasionally insightful—musings of a thoughtful scholar. Unfortunately, many, if not most, of Blij’s arguments are not made from a geographic perspective. For instance, his chapter on the European Union rambles on for page after page about the history of the EU from the European Coal and Steel Community, to the European Economic Community, to the European Community, and, finally, to the European Union. That’s not to say that’s not and interesting...more
Feb 03, 2008 Ms.Houseman rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone who cares about this world and how we are all connected.
Review of chapter one:
In the first chapter of Why Geography Matters, Harm de Blij asserts his thesis in favor of geography education in public schools and universities. Because geography is constantly changing, de Blij outlines the importance of appreciating and understanding the science.
For many Americans, the study of geography was left behind in high school. Our cars have GPS navigation. Our computers allow us to find directions. The Internet takes us to Google Maps where we can find our ho...more
Harm J. De Blij is one of the world's foremost geographers. In the book you find out that geographers have many different roles in life. If the heads of states consulted more with geographers and their known specialties, there would be less wars, less starvation, and a better understanding of where the terrorists reside in our world of terrorism. In many cases, Harm exposes the idiocy of our own heads of states when they visited countries, not knowing the cultural and historical facts! Talk abou...more
saw de Blij speaking on one of the CSPAN channels a while back and decided to read his latest book. The book isn't as interesting as the talk he was giving, but it is still pretty good. He begins by recounting the decline in the teaching of geography in American schools (it was replaced by "Social Studies") and the marginalization of geography in academia as well. Then he demonstrates through examples how a poor understanding of geography has lead to multiple foreign policy blunders in the part...more
Jul 04, 2007 Devon rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone studying Politics or International Relations
Shelves: favorites
So so good. Obviously there are flaws to some arguments, but what argument is perfect? Harm de Blij emphasizes how geographically illiterate Americans are, and proves why geography is absolutely crucial to the major challenges facing the world.
This book was very informative. However, I think he could have tied in the importance of geography a bit better throughout the book.
He starts off by doing a great job, explaining why geography matters and why it's much, much more than just "mountains and rivers" on a map. As a geographer myself, I was happy to read such a thorough explanation. Geography ceased to be important in the United States, and that is reflected through our schools curricula, our general understanding of the subject and o...more
Although it had some interesting points, I found this book to be lacking a single, coherent argument or theme. Naturally, the author means for the theme to be that geography is an important part of analyzing these complicated situations. However, I did not find that theme to be overly compelling.

After a long chapter arguing for more geography in the classroom and the university, de Blij gives a long historical perspective on climate change. I found this historical review to be the most interesti...more
This introductory level book attempts to cover a wide spectrum of global issues. This is (and I believe the intent of the book succeeds) a great book for someone with minimal geographic experience in terms of politics, culture and history and spatial relations as related to the aforementioned topics. It's a quick read, a good refresher for those who may already think of these relationships, and a very important book that addresses the importance for us as a culture (North Americans in particular...more
Good points about how voters need to be educated about basic geography if they are to make wise choices and understand foreign policy. i sent the author an email suggesting this could be taught through videogames where the player would learn that choosing a mountainous border has its tradeoffs. ditto for access to the sea, being landlocked, having abundant natural resources versus limited ones. good stuff that should get more attention than it does. i feel my lack of knowledge about geography al...more
An interesting look at how geography influences history. By now, this is a bit dated (bin Laden has been killed) but still relevant for many aspects of today's world. This book (or an updated version) should be read by every State Department employee and anyone stationed overseas.
This took a while to get started. I think pages were wasted on trying to establish the writer's credibility, which could have easily been satisfied in the colophon.

That said, Mr. de Blij posits some interesting theorems. If you're a geography buff (and especially one at novice level), you'll appreciate his patient explanations and backgrounding. Mr. de Blij doesn't hold anything back, and whether you can believe his conclusions or not, he did his work, and you can respect that.

I'd look for anoth...more
Clay Burns
As a geography teacher, I am biased, but I think this is not only a very interesting book, but also a very important one. It's often assigned to geography students, but I don't think I would have appreciated that in high school, and it may have turned me from the subject. But if geography and globalization interests you, check it out.
Really an interesting history of our planet from the view of geography. The author explains how geography influenced so many developments as our history unfolded. He discusses recent fears of global warming and also reminds us of some serious global cooling that took place in the 1800's.
It brought up some good points and ideas, but herbed ally didn't interest me at all. I had to read for an AP Human Geography class my freshman year of high school and absolutely hated it. It was probably good if you are into that type of stuff.
This feels like a really important book to read right now. While the author may have some interesting ideas on occasion, the simple wake-up call this book provides is devastating.

Pick it up if you have a long flight.
The climate change chapters gave extremely interesting historical context to climate change and the need for humanity to be adaptive to certain changes in climate. However, the book as a whole lacked a unifying idea or argument.
K Putnam
Fascinating tidbits that enhanced my understanding of global history, climate change and terrorism. deBlij writes with humor and an understanding of history as well as geography's relevance to current affairs.
This book is somewhat unfocused with regard to subject matter, but this flaw is outweighed by lots of interesting and novel information. Makes a case for the importance of spatial relationships
This book can catch anyone up to speed on the world of geography to the year
2005. His views on climate change are interesting and worth a read.
As seen in Nature .
Katy Kondrat
Sep 17, 2007 Katy Kondrat added it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: EVERY SINGLE PERSON
the title speaks for itself. geography just might be the most important, most comprehensive study ever.
The author has an interesting perspective to look at history and current events. worth reading
Gave me some things to consider...wondering what his impression of Germany's economy is now.
If you're interested in geography and geopolitics, this is a good primer.
Clair Popkin
Possibly one of the most important books I have ever read!
Well-written and thought-provoking. A worthwhile read.
Read it. Then you'll know.
Jessica marked it as to-read
Sep 18, 2014
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Harm J. de Blij (see IJ (digraph); closest pronunciation: "duh blay") is a geographer. He is a former geography editor on ABC's Good Morning America. He is a former editor of National Geographic magazine and the author of several books, including Why Geography Matters.

Dr. de Blij is a Distinguished Professor of Geography at Michigan State University. He has held the George Landegger Chair in Georg...more
More about H.J. de Blij...
The Power of Place: Geography, Destiny, and Globalization's Rough Landscape Why Geography Matters: More Than Ever Human Geography: People, Place, and Culture Realms, Regions and Concepts, 13th Edition The World Today: Concepts and Regions in Geography

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