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Great Powers and Geopolitical Change

, 280 pages

3 maps

December 2006



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Great Powers and Geopolitical Change

Named by Foreign Affairs as a book to read on geopolitics

In an era of high technology and instant communication, the role of geography in the formation of strategy and politics in international relations can be undervalued. But the mountains of Afghanistan and the scorching sand storms of Iraq have provided stark reminders that geographical rea`lities continue to have a profound impact on the success of military campaigns. Here, political scientist Jakub J. Grygiel brings to light the importance of incorporating geography into grand strategy. He argues that states can increase and maintain their position of power by pursuing a geostrategy that focuses on control of resources and lines of communication.

Grygiel examines case studies of Venice, the Ottoman Empire, and China in the global fifteenth century—all great powers that faced a dramatic change in geopolitics when new routes and continents were discovered. The location of resources, the layout of trade networks, and the stability of state boundaries played a large role in the success or failure of these three powers. Grygiel asserts that, though many other aspects of foreign policy have changed throughout history, strategic response to geographical features remains one of the most salient factors in establishing and maintaining power in the international arena.

Jakub J. Grygiel is an associate professor and the George H. W. Bush Chair of International Affairs at the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies of the Johns Hopkins University.

"This interesting book examines the strategic structure of the empires of Venice, the Ottomans, and Ming China from the eleventh to the sixteenth centuries... Grygiel's provocative volume will initiate many debates."

"A must-read for anyone interested in international relations in general and geopolitics in particular."

"Grygiel’s short but informative study serves as testament to the fact that today, no serious work of political theory can ignore the perspective of the longue durée, and even more specifically, the historical experience of non-Western regions and states."

"He makes a very compelling case that geography, geopolitics, and geostrategy are relevant factors in the rise and decline of great powers, past, present, and future... Great Powers and Geopolitical Change is a book that I believe deserves the attention of policymakers and scholars alike."

"According to Grygiel, a country's strategic response to geography remains one of the most salient factors in establishing and maintaining power in the international arena."

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