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Will Geography Decide Our Destiny?

posted Apr 7, 2013, 11:12 AM by Michael Toise

Will Geography Decide Our Destiny?

The Revenge of Geography: What the Map Tells Us About Coming Conflicts and the Battle Against Fate
by Robert D. Kaplan 
Random House, 403 pp., $28.00

When maps were introduced into Ottoman schools in the 1860s, conservative Muslims—people we would now call Salafists—were so outraged that they ripped them off classroom walls and threw them down the latrines. Though Muslim geographers such as Muhammad al-Idrisi (1099–1166) had produced serviceable maps, they were not widely available and for most of Ottoman history the spatial configuration of territory in two dimensions had been largely restricted to military specialists.