Geopolitics, Geography and Strategic History

By Geoffrey Sloan

Foreword by Colin S. Gray

© 2017 – Routledge

272 pages

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Hardback: 9780714653488
pub: 2017-02-28
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About the Book

This volume examines geopolitics by looking at the interaction between geography, strategy and history.

This book addresses three interrelated questions: why does the geographical scope of political objectives and subsequent strategy of states change? How do these changes occur? Over what period of time do these changes occur? The theories of Sir Halford Mackinder and Nicholas Spykman are examined in order to provide an analytical narrative for five case studies, four historical and one contemporary. Taken together these five case studies offer the prospect of converting descriptions of historical change into analytic explanations, thereby highlighting the importance of a number of commonly overlooked variables. In addition, the case studies will illuminate the challenges that states face when changing the scope of their foreign policy and geo-strategy in response to shifts in geopolitical reality. This book breaks new ground in seeking to provide a way to understand why and how the geographical scope of political objectives and subsequent strategy both expands and declines.

This book will be of much interest to students of geopolitics, strategic studies, military history, and International Relations.


'In this important and readable book Geoff Sloan brings Geography back into focus. He shows and explains Geography’s relationship to the formulation and execution of strategy and thus the exercise of political power. Now that the geopolitical ‘tectonic plates’, unfrozen at the end of the Cold War, are on the move; understanding these relationships is never more important.' -- General Sir Rupert Smith KCB DSO OBE QGM

'For too long international relations and politics has been dominated by trendy academic methods that inevitably reflect more about the theorist and the theories, than about the issues at hand that effect all our lives. Even worse – most contemporary works of that sort are inaccessible and downright unreadable – one thinks perhaps a point of pride for the authors at times! Professor Sloan has written a necessary corrective to this condition. Geopolitics, Geography, and Strategic History re-connects the actual experiences of the human condition with the principle forces that shape the world in which we live. Sloan’s shrewdness in using geopolitical approaches to explain the rise of domestic strategic cultures and the reasons for the differences between them does much more to explain the world in which we live than the narrow theoretical approaches of modern political theorists. With its emphasis on the dynamism and interrelation between history, geography, and power – this book enlightens and explains much that seems to befuddle modern policy makers and political spinmeisters. Students of the field and anyone interested in charting a way through the morass of today’s thorny international relations scene would do well to heed Sloan and the geopolitical approach.' -- The Honorable Dr. John Hillen, Former US Assistant Secretary of State

Table of Contents

Foreword, Colin S. Gray


1. Geopolitics: Geography, History and Stratefy, a Trinity of Relations

2. Geopolitics: Methods and Theories

3. British Foregin Policy and the Heartland: Challenge and Nemesis

4. Britain, Ireland and the Battle of the Atlantic: Failure and Redemption

5. A Geographical Aurora: Geopolitics in the United States during the Second World War

6. Geopolitics and Containment 1945-1973: A Strategy without Limits

7. The Geopolitics of China and the Pacific Pivot

8. Conclusions

About the Author

Geoffrey Sloan is an Associate Professor in the Department of Politics and International Relations at the University of Reading, UK. He has also been a Visiting Professor at the United States Naval Academy, Annapolis and a Defence Fellow at St Antony’s College Oxford.

About the Series

Geopolitical Theory

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HISTORY / Military / General
HISTORY / Military / Strategy
POLITICAL SCIENCE / International Relations / General
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Political Freedom & Security / International Security