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 waysfrom the uneven distribution of natural resources to the unequal availability of opportunitygeography continues to hold billions of people in its 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. Hundreds of millions of farmers in the river basins of Asia and Africa, and tens of millions of shepherds in isolated mountain valleys from the Andes to Kashmir, all live their lives much as their distant ancestors did, remote from the forces of globalization. Incorporating a series of persuasive maps, De Blij describes the tremendously varied environments across the planet and shows how migrations between them are comparatively rare. 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.
"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 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
"Should be set upon the desks of every legislator, policy wonk and concerned citizen."
"Mr. de Blij's vast reach and steady even-handedness make The Power of Place an enjoyable, intellectual stroll."
The New York Sun
"Informative and provocative...made all the richer by his inspired use of maps. Substantive and smart."
De Blij (Why Geography Matters) argues forcefully that "geography and destiny are tightly intertwined" in this book that challenges the increasingly popular assertion that the world is becoming "flat" due to the effects of globalization. The author, greatly influenced by his experiences as a young man in South Africa during apartheid, illustrates that the world is still strewn with the economic, political and cultural versions of mountains and oceans that separate the lucky few in the "core" from those in the "periphery," specifically, those nations that lag behind in economic development and health care and are vulnerable to geography and environment. Using compelling data, de Blij describes how "Cruiseship Earth" is inhabited by three groups that he terms: "globals", migrant "mobals" and "locals," the latter, inhabiting the unprivileged periphery, who will soon outnumber the "fortunate minority" of globals, thereby presenting the world with challenges that mere globalizing economies cannot possibly assuage. 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. (Aug.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.