It's tempting to look back on a year like 2016 and interpret events - referendums, elections, military assaults and cyberwarfare - and see them soley as the products of recent human interactions: economic resentment, immigration anxiety; arrogant elitism, or resurgent racism; ideological clashes.

But the reality is that most major events owe at least as much to enduring physical features of the landscape as they do to psychology or ideology.

Prisoners of Geography: Ten Maps That Tell You Everththing You Need To Know About Global Politics, by Tim Marshall, shines an unbiased light on the realities imposed by mountains, rivers and oceans on human history, commerce and politics among regions and nations.

You won't find much to confirm your own liberal or conservative preferences, but you'll gain a much clearer understanding of what's happening today and why, in the Ukraine, the South China Sea, Aleppo and dozens of other hot spots.

Highly recommended reading for those interstex in international affairs.