The Power of Place

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

3.63 (252 ratings by Goodreads)
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In recent years a spate of books and articles have argued that the world today is so mobile, so interconnected and so integrated that it is, in one prominent assessment, flat. But as Harm de Blij contends in The Power of Place, geography continues to hold billions of people in an unrelenting grip. We are all born into natural and cultural environments that shape what we become, individually and collectively. From our "mother tongue" to our father's faith, from medical risks to natural hazards, where we start our journey has much to do with our destiny, and thus with our chances of overcoming the obstacles in our way. Incorporating a series of revealing maps, de Blij focuses on the rough terrain of the world's human and environmental geography. The world's continuing partition into core and periphery, and apartheid-like obstructions to migration from the former to the latter, help explain why, in this age of globalization, less than 3 percent of "mobals" live in countries other than where they were born. Maps of language distribution suggest why English, the Latin of the latter day, may become as hybridized as its forerunner. The fateful map of religion casts a shadow of what he calls "endarkenment" over the future of the planet in a time of increasingly destructive weaponry. De Blij also looks at the ways we are redefining place so as to make its power even more potent than it has been, with troubling implications for the future. Optimistic demographic projections based on declining national populations in the global core are tempered by the prospect that the vast majority of the 3 billion additions to the world's population will burden the periphery. Megacities such as Lagos and Jakarta with their corridors and nodes of globalization foreshadow a future of potentially explosive social contrasts. Subnational entities from southern Sudan to northern Sri Lanka seek independence at a time when the planet's limited living space is already fragmented into 200 states. Looking down from the business-class compartment of a transcontinental airliner, the world looks a lot flatter than it does from the doorway of a dwelling in a local village. Harm de Blij brings us back to earth to reveal the all-too-rugged contours of more

Product details

  • Hardback | 304 pages
  • 152.4 x 236.22 x 22.86mm | 589.67g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 30 b/w illustrations
  • 0195367707
  • 9780195367706
  • 1,672,123

Review quote

"This meticulous analysis of the impact of everything from religious fundamentalism to the streamlining of world languages on these three groups will serve as an indispensable primer for serious policy makers." --Publishers Weekly"Impressively, author Harm De Blij has attained what purveyors of mass market and trendy neo-geographic gospels have not: a comprehensive and optimistic geographic fact-book in narrative form synthesis of political, social and economic issues with the profound impact of spatial science A compact and exhaustive book like The Power of Place should be set upon the desks of every legislator, policy wonk and concerned citizen. In an afternoon of reading purposeful prose and parsing such fine maps, readers will likely find an entirely new world to live in and an understanding that X never marks the spot; XY does, and often a bit of Z." --Chicago Sun-Times"The Power of Place is a tour-de-force, a fascinating and deeply knowledgeable account of the crucial ways in which '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"What Carl Sagan did for cosmology, Harm de Blij is doing for geography. See, hear or read him and you will sign on for a continuing course in a subject that he has brought alive like no one else in our time. The Power of Place is one of those books I hope the next President will read between the election in November 2008 and the inauguration in January. There couldn't be a better way to learn that the world isn't so flat, either." --Bill Moyers, host of Bill Moyers Journal, PBS"The Power of Place offers a thoughtful, balanced, and meandering tour of the diversity of human geography... Mr. de Blij's vast reach and steady even-handedness make The Power of Place an enjoyable, intellectual stroll. If the author has one overarching theme, it is to remind his readers that much of the world is still suffering with poverty and disease. That fact is always worth remembering." The New York Sun"Informative and provocative book. De Blij's analysis of each of these issues is made all the richer by his inspired use of maps. A brisk counteractant to the empty sloganeering that often accompanies all sides of the globalization debate--provocative, substantive and smart.""For those who want to be on top of world events, yet feel overwhelmed by the amount of information that floods into their homes and offices through the media, The Power of Place is an excellent start." --Nature"A fascinating book that will resonate with all readers... Indispensable reading... Essential."--CHOICEshow more

About Harm J. De Blij

Harm de Blij is the John A. Hannah Professor of Geography at Michigan State University. The author of 30 books including most recently Why Geography Matters, he is an honorary life member of the National Geographic Society and was for seven years the Geography Editor on ABC's Good Morning more

Rating details

252 ratings
3.63 out of 5 stars
5 21% (52)
4 38% (97)
3 27% (67)
2 12% (30)
1 2% (6)
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