Geopolitics, Geography and Strategic History  book cover
1st Edition

Geopolitics, Geography and Strategic History

ISBN 9781138339590
Published August 14, 2018 by Routledge
270 Pages

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Book Description

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 they 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 attempting to change the scope of their foreign policy and geo-strategy in response to shifts in the 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 contracts.

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

Table of Contents

Foreword, Colin S. Gray


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

2. Geopolitics: Methods and Theories

3. British Foreign 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

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Geoffrey Sloan is an Associate Professor in the Department of Politics and International Relations at the University of Reading, UK. Formerly he was Head of the Strategic Studies and International Affairs Department at Britannia Royal Naval College, Dartmouth. He has also been a Visiting Professor at the United States Naval Academy, Annapolis, and a Defence Fellow at St Antony’s College, Oxford.


'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

‘Geoffrey Sloan has given us a magisterial account of the intellectual value of geopolitics understood, as it should be, as the empirical study of the inter-relation of history, geography and strategy. Ranging from Britain’s abortive intervention in South Russia in 1920 to the geopolitical thinking discernible in China’s policy today, he reminds us that geopolitical understanding is an indispensable tool as much for the historian as for the contemporary policy-maker – and neglected at their peril.’ -- Professor John Darwin, University of Oxford, UK 


'...this is an erudite and magisterial book enriching our understanding of how historical events and emerging geopolitical trends and developments are enhanced by understanding the close relationship between geopolitics,geography, and strategic history and how the multidisciplinary relevance of these subjects makes classical geopolitics an essential prerequisite for analyzing, interpreting, and understanding international relations and history. Strongly recommended for all interested in these subjects!'-- Bert Chapman, Purdue University, USA