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Power of Place: Geography, Destiny, and Globalization's Rough Landscape
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Power of Place: Geography, Destiny, and Globalization's Rough Landscape

3.64  ·  Rating details ·  266 Ratings  ·  27 Reviews
The world is not as mobile or as interconnected as we like to think. As Harm de Blij argues in The Power of Place, in crucial ways--from the uneven distribution of natural resources to the unequal availability of opportunity--geography continues to hold billions of people in its grip. We are all born into natural and cultural environments that shape what we become, individ ...more
Hardcover, 280 pages
Published July 1st 2008 by Oxford University Press, USA (first published June 20th 2008)
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Sep 29, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I first heard of the late Harm de Blij because of the wine-tasting event in a box that comes with a video he narrated, and even with my lack of interest in wine, his charm came through. But I had not read any of his work, so when I saw this book in Modern Times bookstore, I decided to buy it. Just now I read online that this title was shared with a PBS series he created, so I guess I should pay more attention to TV after all.

Being a lifelong geography nerd, I really enjoyed and appreciated this
Jun 24, 2009 rated it liked it
De Blij a naturalized American, who was born in the Netherlands, is a Professor of Geography at Michigan State. He is the author of many articles and books including Why Geography Matters. For seven years he was the geography editor for ABC's Good Morning America.

The objective of The Power of Place is to partially refute Friedman's The Earth is Flat. De Blij's point is that all people are not favorably affected by globalization because they do not live in the right place or because of many other
Aug 15, 2008 rated it it was ok
Shelves: history
I really wanted to like this book. I was very put off by Thomas Friedman's "The World is Flat," and judging by the title - The Power of Place - I thought I would find the perfect rejoinder in this book.

(If you want a good rejoinder, read this PDF: )

All that said, I was supremely disappointed by the book. I can't say I learned anything from it. The most interesting parts of the books were the occasional maps; outside that, I don't think de Blij adds much t
Feb 23, 2013 rated it liked it
My husband made me read this because he's a huge fan of De Blij. Frankly, the overall argument was nothing new to me, and I agree with it. It was backed up with a litany of facts (sometimes it reads like a list), some facts new to me, some not. The writing style is pretty dry and academic. Since he's a geographer, he deals mainly in generalizations, which is sometimes annoying to me since my academic background is anthropology. But, if you're a "facts junkie" like my husband, you'll like it.
Mike Whatley
Sep 02, 2014 rated it really liked it
What fun! Place', the Earth's physical geography, shapes global society. The world, we learn, is not flat but is indeed a rugged terrain, in which climate, topography, natural hazards, pathogens and much more, shape economy, politics, language, culture, and power. The Power of Place is a treat for the specialist and a thrilling eye-opener for the general reader." --Jeffrey D. Sachs, Director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University
David Shelton
Feb 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
The Power of Place by Harm De Blij is an interesting book that details the effects of globalization taking place in the world today. His primary thesis is that globalization is creating more wealth and opportunity for some who have opportunity to take advantage of it, but that the vast majority of the world is not benefitting. Rather they are falling further behind by comparison, and the barriers are growing larger. Throughout the book he uses 3 categories to describe different types of people. ...more
Apr 19, 2009 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Apr 28, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: geography
I really like the basic premise of this book, that geographical factors of various kinds make the world "rough" rather than "flat" for the vast majority of people. The author provides good examples and the maps really brought the concepts across well. I'm troubled by the author's somewhat sly hostility toward religion. WHile I can agree that violent and/or deeply intolerant religious ideas do much to make the place a more dangerous place, I think the author puts too much emphasis on the problems ...more
Dec 02, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This book answers the question to which extent progress, economy and culture depend on geographical factors. The main message of the book: Yes, even in a globalized, interconnected world our geographical situation greatly determines our individual opportunities regarding wealth, education, health and freedom. Even more, today's world is strictly divided into the affluent core which are the industrialized/OECD countries and the fringe (developing countries). Addressing topics such as race, gender ...more
John Grange
Jul 24, 2013 rated it it was ok
De Blij certainly debunked, albeit not very aggressively, the "world is flat" narrative surrounding globalization and international affairs. However the book lacked the depth and scholarship necessary to provide an adequate intellectual foundation for its premise. I also felt the prescriptions for the world's globalization-induced ailments were somewhat obvious and lacked novelty. Overall, I enjoyed the aspect of it that was more-or-less a survey of the global geopolitical environment. The maps, ...more
Aug 22, 2014 rated it it was ok
De Blij writes an interesting, though not terribly influential or groundbreaking work that supports the notion that locals, rather than "global core" dwellers or mobals, as he terms migrants, are unlikely to see a change in situation, other than for the worse, in the age of globalization. There's nothing new here, and I second those reviewers who learned little from his wide-reaching chapters. Each chapter, with a focus such as "religion," read like a freshman-level reader with generalizations a ...more
Apr 19, 2012 rated it really liked it
It was really fun to read a geography book again. I remembered why I loved the outlook of this discipline. deBlij was a geographer when I was so he must be older than the hills, but his writing was so intelligent and his reasoning so clear that I was amazed. I learned new things and remembered old things. Nice.
John Wyss
Feb 10, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
3.5 I liked this book, it had a lot of interesting ideas. I rated it lower because it was a little disjointed. Each chapter was like its own vignette, which would be fine except there wasn't a really strong thesis tying everything together. yes, the fact that place matters, and will continue to matter, is the central idea; it just wasn't as strong as it could be.
Oct 05, 2008 rated it liked it
Written as a reminder that the world is not flat, "The Power of Place" makes a convincing argument. However, while the book contains much data and many factoids, the narrative fails to elicit emotional or visceral responses to it's many good points. The writing tends to be dry and is devoid of anecdotes which could draw the reader closer to its subject matter.
Steve Wiggins
Apr 13, 2014 rated it really liked it
The world is not flat. A geographer knows! This is a very sensible approach to the many inequalities that remain unaddressed in our world. A sobering book. More thoughts: Sects and Violence in the Ancient World.
David Wen
May 19, 2015 rated it liked it
A very broad brushed overview of the issues affecting various countries around the world. What's keeping them back and what others are doing right. If you're up to date on world events, there's not much there to pickup.
Jul 11, 2009 rated it it was ok
I wish I could give this 2 and 1/2 stars because certain parts were boring, certain parts were okay, but other parts were really interesting. But when I considered the book as a whole, I could only give it two stars.
Nov 17, 2008 rated it really liked it
great primer for geography learners, funny, compassionate, and up-to-date. you WILL need a magnifying glass for some of the maps though. Blows friedman's "world is flat" out of the water, read this by de blij instead of that bestseller drivel.
Apr 11, 2012 rated it liked it
The premise of the book is that while globalization is in fact happening, it hasn't had any positive effect on the vast majority of humanity. It describes in detail how most peoples' lives are still laregly determined by the place they were born. Interesting, but dry and pessimistic.
Aug 30, 2009 rated it liked it
I will admit, it was funny at some points. He was clever, insightful, and interesting. But the overall message of the book (facts and graphs aside) is not something we should have not figured out already on our own.
Jun 10, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This is a GREAT read for public health folks and those that have an interest in infectious disease. The chapter on religion is brilliant. Highly recommended.
Jun 01, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
Recommend it for understanding of international events, and business
Aug 10, 2008 rated it really liked it
An answer to Friedman's The World is Flat arguing that there are many natural, social, cultual barriers which still divide the world's citizens.
Polly Callahan
May 29, 2012 marked it as finish-later
Shelves: geography
read to page 74
Jan 10, 2011 rated it liked it
A decent book about globalization. I don't really agree with his thesis though. Its also a little cynical.
Jun 05, 2011 rated it really liked it
Interesting book, see Oxonian review piece on it.
May 07, 2015 rated it liked it
Really interesting read; I was coming to it more for a philosophical discussion of 'place' and learned about all sorts of interesting socioeconomic things (mostly) instead.
Justin Gill
rated it really liked it
Feb 14, 2014
rated it it was ok
Jan 03, 2011
rated it really liked it
Nov 28, 2009
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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
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