Another interesting geography book. The "ten maps" are a letdown, they're basic Mercator projections and you've seen them before. The book is excellent.
Basically, Marshall divides the world into spheres of influence and explains the effect that geographical features have had on each region's economic and politics. India and China don't like each other, but they won't have a war because the world's highest and most impassable mountain range lies between them. Europe and the USA both have huge, navigable river systems, which makes trade and economic growth much easier than in, say, Africa or South America. Putin had to go to war for Crimea, not just because of the warm water port, but also because Ukraine is flat and has a border just 300 miles from Moscow.
He's very succinct, almost that succinct, and there are 260 pages of those little factoids. It's a shallow survey of world events, but I even learned a few new things in the Latin America section, which was very good.
He also adds a nice layer of human geography over the physical world, which he uses to explain conflicts in Africa and the Middle East ("Even the name, "Middle East," refers to the region's position vis a vis Europe.")
The book overstates the importance of geography on human culture and history, imho, but that's sort of the point. It's a ground-up perspective on what happened. His coda on Arctic and space exploration extrapolates his methods into crystal ball territory, which is very interesting. After reading it, you can't help but think that Russia will end up controlling the whole mess because Canada and the USA can't get our collective shit together.
Worth a look!