Flash Readathon: Prisoners of Geography

books

Wednesday. What a day!

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I went to London on a morning flight with absolutely no mood to chat, and as I sat there in my middle seat between a Brit coming from a Spanish pub crawl and a Canadian family flying back  after vacationing in Barcelona… guess what?

Travel Chatter

Turned out chatting was a much better idea. Because Canadians are just that friendly ! 🙂

So we talked, and talked and talked.. to the point I was beginning to feel sorry we’ll be landing soon. Talked about how they rented out their place in Vancouver on AirBnb to pay off the AirBnb in Barcelona.

About the advantage of gaining air-miles with credit cards  – which, last time I checked, us Europeans don’t get to enjoy.. boo!

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About the apparent awesomeness of WestJet Airlines, a Canadian airline founded in 1996 which empowers their employees to become genuinely engaged brand ambassadors, by giving them shares in the company.

Which means: when one Westjet employee saw a bunch of people stuck in the airport late in the evening – as their AirCanada flight had been delayed & complaining about food – he went ahead and bought 200 pizzas for the stranded passengers!

(of course, WestJet reimbursed the employee)

And just look at this Christmas Miracle ! Now that’s marketing done right!

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Geopolitics, Immigration & Housing

We also talked geopolitics, working for Japanese companies, immigration – who knew that rich Chinese are taking over real estate in Vancouver, causing worrying spikes in house prices?

To the extent that the Canadian government introduced a 15% tax on foreign house buyers, to try and regulate housing costs.

Then, on my way back to Barcelona & in an interesting twist, I found this jewel in the airport bookstore:

Prisoners of Geography

Ten Maps That Tell You Everything You Need To Know About Geopolitics

 

Flash Readathon !

In the words of The GuardianPrisoners of Geography looks at the past, present and future to offer an essential guide to one of the major determining factors in world history.

I completely devoured 3 of the 10 maps in my delayed flight back to Barcelona:

  • Why Russia is sleeping restlessly because of their Western flatland borders
  • How China strives to become the next maritime power and builds artificial islands in the process
  • And how USA got the borders it has today. Including the purchase of Louisiana for 15M$, which effectively doubled the size of the young country.

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My hands shaking from the worst turbulence I’d experienced in my 200+ flights, yet I wouldn’t put the book down, it is that good.

And we really had it bad up there: all lightnings & thunders outside, the plane shaking and making us bounce in our seats, and some pretty exciting altitude drops…

And the guy behind me yelling F#&k me over and over..

So I have 7 more maps, but I have a feeling I’ll be pulling an all-nighter on this one.

‘Fresh way of looking at maps – not just as objects for orientation or works of art, but as guideposts to the often thorny relations between nations’ – The New York Times

Have you read the book? And what did you think about it?

You haven’t, but would like to? Let’s do the readathon together! Woohoo

Otherwise: stay tuned, I’l be back with details soon!