Friday, January 01, 2010

Four Great Geography Book Reads of 2009

Reading works of history, religion, military, and regional affairs is a great way to learn geographical knowledge. Here are short brief reviews of some of the best books Catholicgauze read last year.

Religious Geography:

The Lost History of Christianity: The Thousand-Year Golden Age of the Church in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia--and How It Died is a great history of the Eastern Churches. Usually when one thinks of Christian history they either think Catholic Church then the Reformation or Catholic/Orthodox split and then the Reformation. Almost no one either knows of the Eastern Churches such as the Jacobites and Nestorians or thinks they died off during the rise of Islam. This book does a excellent job documenting how Christianity lived under Islam and in pagan Asia. In fact, up until the late 1200s there was still a chance that Asia and the Muslim World would fall to a Nestorian-allied Mongol horde. The book further goes on to discuss how Eastern Christian practices were adopted into Islam.

Military Geography:

Six Days of War is the definitive history of the Six Day War between Israel and the united Arab forces under the nominal command of Egypt. This book does a wonderful job of describing the background history, the maneuvers, and politics of the war. The last bit is of great interest as the victorious Israelis debate what to do with the newly won territory.

Afghanistan: A Military History from Alexander the Great to the War against the Taliban pretty much documents every battle ever fought in Afghanistan. As such one needs an atlas with them while reading the book to remember the detailed geography of the region. After reading the book I gained a greater appreciation for Afghan history. The country once was a settled land but constant invaders crushed everything but the wild nomads in the mountains. That legacy lives up until today.

Coffee Table Geography:

Strange Maps is the best way to start a fun geography conversation with any guest.


Ken said...

I got Strange Maps for Xmas. Very fun and interesting to see how others view the world around them. I was especially intrigued by the "south on top" orientation of Southeast Asia and the reasons behind it.

Catholicgauze said...

Strange Maps does help one see how others view the world and I too enjoyed that map. Glad to see you liked it!

Catholicgauzette said...

I agree that the "south on top" map is good.

My favorite maps are "hobo dyer" ones! (And the ones that Catholicgauze links to ;-) )