Best Books on Geopolitics

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Best Books on Geopolitics

The world has witnessed the rise and fall of numerous civilizations and nations, some because of their political weakness, internal conflicts, the division of ideologies, and especially because of geopolitical policies. A country’s location, land size, the number of natural reserves, and raw resources determine the economic and social living standards of the people in that particular region. These factors, directly and indirectly, suggest policy scenarios that lead a nation to become a governing superpower.

For nations that do not have a certain strategic geographic advantage, the use of military power to capture inaccessible terrain creates political complications. It affects the way trade policies are implemented in these sensitive regions, and the livelihood of the masses is based on the local produce. Geopolitics is a dynamic subject that is based on realism. The world was first coined by Swedish political scientist Rudolf Kjellen, which later went on to become a popular synonym for international politics.

Since ancient times various eminent writers have written about the accessibility, topography, arid lands, climate of the region, and the rich mineral sources of different lands. This has helped rulers and, in the modern world, politicians to gain power over indigenous people as well as resources. Following are some outstanding books about this dynamic subject by modern researchers, political analysts, and geographic experts.

1. Prisoners of Geography: Ten Maps that Explain Everything about the World by Tim Marshall

Prisoners of Geography: Ten Maps that Explain Everything about the World by Tim Marshall

The globe-trotting foreign affairs journalist Tim Marshall has coined all of his travel and political expertise in this fascinating book. It has been on the New York best-selling list for a long time; the author has drawn references from ten regions on maps to explain the geopolitics connecting these varied places on the Earth. Pressing questions like – Why has the US become a superpower? How does China continue to expand its political clout? Why Europe remains to be scattered in power dynamics? All of these have answers interlinked with the geographic conditions of these regions. The power leaders are mere puppets when it comes to the physical factors limiting their countries.

This book is a refreshing way to study the world map. It provides a detailed history of the political events in the past along with hypothetical future events that can occur due to geographic disparities—overall, an interesting read to understand the working of nations restricted by their boundaries.

2. The World: A Brief Introduction by Richard Haass

The World: A Brief Introduction by Richard Haass

Richard Haass has written a comprehensive guide to the events that have rocked the world right from WWI to the Cold war.  He uses his diplomatic career as the background and has spun an informative case study about how geographic factors are merged with political ambitions. He explains that the political decisions taken in Western countries affect policies without frontiers and geography. The book offers a broad range of subjects that discuss geographical challenges faced with globalization, nuclear weaponry, climate change, migration, global health, and even topics on terrorism.

The theories are backed with elaborate charts, illustrations, and diagrams for a layman to understand the geopolitics of any region. If you are someone who likes to divulge in the world of economic self–interest, along with gaining knowledge about the current issues faced globally; then this is an intelligent read.

3. The Revenge of Geography: What the Map Tells Us About Coming Conflicts and the Battle Against Fate by Robert D. Kaplan

The Revenge of Geography: What the Map Tells Us About Coming Conflicts and the Battle Against Fate by Robert D. Kaplan

Bestselling author Robert D Kaplan has presented an ambitious and challenging narrative in his book. He used the knowledge and expertise of past geopolitical advisors and current geographical experts to interpret the physical attributes of climate and the geographical boundaries of events. After thoroughly examining all the valid points, he focuses on the current crisis looming in the countries due to the planet’s geophysical dimensions.

The points put forth in the book are precise and filled with valuable information. It throws light on how the geography of any nation is one of the key factors in determining foreign policies and decisions. The future complications between China, Iran, and Europe are truthfully presented. If you wish to learn more about how a warzone with tough terrain can affect troop movements, battle placement, and muscle of power politics, then this is an excellent read.

4. The Culture Map: Breaking Through the Invisible Boundaries of Global Business by Erin Meyer

The Culture Map: Breaking Through the Invisible Boundaries of Global Business by Erin Meyer

Business expert Erin Meyer has written a helpful guide about the various cultural backgrounds that every nation sticks to in spite of sometimes sharing the same geographical conditions. It is imperative that world leaders and business organizations learn to follow ethical and moral work culture without offending the regional customs. This book guides business-minded individuals to navigate civilizing heritages and complex cross-cultural environments.

If you are a budding entrepreneur or a manager who has a dynamic team, then this book has valuable insights and strategies to work with multi-cultural offshore groups or companies. The author has given extensive examples from her own personal experience along with quality research. Also, if you are planning to shift base to another country, then it helps to understand the rich diversity and geography of the nations.

5. The Quest: Energy, Security and the Remaking of the Modern World by Daniel Yergin

The Quest: Energy, Security and the Remaking of the Modern World by Daniel Yergin

The Pulitzer-prize-winning author Daniel Yergin is a celebrated name when it comes to the astute observations on international politics, energy, and world economics. In this book, he has presented well-researched information about how climate change, raw material exploitations, depletion of energy resources, and degradation of coal and natural gas will be caused due to geographic exploitation. The author encourages governments and business entities to make more use of wind and solar energy for production. It has also provided extensive research into how to manage resources such as natural gas, coal reserves, and raw materials in a variety of geographic contexts.

If you are interested to know more about the global impact of oil reserves in the future, the expansion of electric cars, the geographical force of climate change, and the cost of new technologies, then this book is an admirable source of knowledge.

6. The Next 100 Years: A Forecast for the 21st Century by George Friedman

The Next 100 Years: A Forecast for the 21st Century by George Friedman

George Friedman is the founder of STRATFOR, which is a data science and intelligence forecasting firm. Through his extensive knowledge and research of the superpowers, developing nations, and geographical conditions, the author has written a shocking account of all the political upheavals the world is about to face. He has revealed that the Jihadist war that is ravaging the US will soon be replaced by a Cold War with Russia. China will be replaced by Japan as a superpower, Mexico will become formidable in geopolitical situations, and Turkey will rise to dominate the world political affairs scene.

This book also predicts that future wars will be fought in space since the military domination of the world nations will be concentrated in the space dominion. This book is a brilliant read for anyone who wants to know the happenings of international business and politics in the coming years.

7. Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity, and Poverty by Daron Acemoglu

James A Robinson has perhaps answered the nagging question by all experts, researchers, and politicians. The reason why one nation is lagging behind when it comes to technological advancement? Why South Korea has richer residents than its starving counterpart in North Korea? Why is Bosnia leading in innovations when the rest of the African countries are hindered by violence? Does the political and geographical clout of China stem from its authoritarian government? Why billions of people are living under the poverty line even in developed countries? Tough pressing questions with well-researched reports by the author.

The author compares various civilizations throughout history to put forth his points of a failing society. He has described that the political circumstances and ill decisions regarding geographical resources have led to the collapse of many powerful nations. He also stresses the fact that the elites shouldn’t be the ones with concentrated wealth and control—an impressive read for anyone who wishes to know more about sustaining a healthy economic and social environment.

8. Sea Power: The History and Geopolitics of the World’s Oceans by Admiral James Stavridis USN

Sea Power: The History and Geopolitics of the World's Oceans by Admiral James Stavridis USN

The discovery of the nations has always been pivotal to its oceans and voyages by the sea. The former NATO Supreme Allied Commander, Admiral James Stavridis, has shed light on how the bodies of water surrounding the world have shaped the Fate of current geopolitical scenes. Seapower is the future strategic negotiation point of the armies from trade, military, boundary, and dominance over the globe point of view. Admiral James has expertly stated that the future areas of ocean conflicts will be the South China Sea, East Mediterranean, and the Arctic Ocean. The author also added personal anecdotes and military experiences to reinforce much of the facts surrounding water bodies around the world.

He debates that China will gradually increase its presence from East to the South China Sea, Russia will be another nation that will rise in dominance across the water channels, and this will lead to political repercussions around the globe. As the geographic conditions above the oceans reach the point of power, the world will go through the chaos.

9. War by Other Means: Geoeconomics and Statecraft by Ambassador Robert D. Blackwill

War by Other Means: Geoeconomics and Statecraft by Ambassador Robert D. Blackwill

Robert D Blackwell reported on how the world’s superpowers strategically achieved geopolitical victories with their allies through foreign economic policies. It offers strong examples of how a nation can take vantage of its allies with economic sanctions that benefit trade or wield military power to gain ground on geographic territories. He further verifies his point by stating that if the US aids Mexico to maintain a stable economic status quo, then it will be effortless to control the security risks posed by the neighbouring nation.

The book also traces the future of cyber warfare and the win of nations like China and Russia in this technology. It is a well-researched account of trade deals, economic manipulation, and geographical actions that will shape the coming ages in world politics.

10. The New Silk Roads: The New Asia and the remaking of the World Order by Peter Frankopan

The New Silk Roads: The New Asia and the remaking of the World Order by Peter Frankopan

Peter Frankopan talks about the ancient trade routes and compares them with the challenging trade systems that are taking over the world. He draws the conclusion that earlier, the trade leads to Rome, but in the modern age, China is leading when it comes to the global business market. The book also highlights the current political scenario regarding Brexit and the foreign policies that have impacted the world since the Trump administration. In his opinion, Asia will soon become intrusive when it comes to dominating the commercial scenes. Thus dethroning the US, Europe, and Russian supremacy from the trade circles.

A classic examination of the way in which the natural resources of Asian countries will lead to trade domination in the Western world. It makes for a comprehensive read when it comes to the nitty-gritty of the geopolitical conditions pressing the world.


When you compare the sub-disciplines of political science and analyze the military strategies of any nation, there is a clear parallel between these and the geographic positioning. For a country to succeed, it is imperative that it is well connected on the physical borders with smooth trade routes, even on the water bodies. Hence, to understand these modern functionalities, the above books will come in handy.

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