Book Review: Borders: A Very Short Introduction by Alexander Diener and Joshua Hagen

Having been thoroughly hooked by the Very Short Introductions, this was one that I just happened to glance across while I was browsing a local bookshop. I can’t say that the subject was one that I have ever had a particular interest in, though the fact that a whole book (albeit a brief one) could be devoted to it did somewhat pique my curiosity.

It has to be noted that the book is very modern; so modern, in fact that I fear it may be out of date before too long. I’ll come on to why a little later, but if you’re thinking of reading it, please do so sooner than later.

Given that the book is about borders, there is a certain irony that in dealing the subject, the authors have had to traverse a number of disciplines including geography, politics, religion and commerce. Thus, the borders between these disciplines become blurred slightly. Certainly, they are not as firmly delineated as one might think. Yet, that is almost exactly the point of the book. The authors are quick to point out that even though you might pick up a map or an atlas and view borders between nations, or between districts or neighbours on a street, the ink & paper are more rigid than the borders they represent. Disputes occur all the time, some which are more prominent than others.

In discussing this, the authors do of course touch on the thorny issues related to the borders between Israel and Palestine. Here, they do tiptoe around some of the issues, but they are not overlooked entirely or ignored.

In writing this very short review (I confess, I finished it nearly 2 months after finishing the book) I was trying to think who I would recommend the book to. In truth, I couldn’t think of anyone to whom this would be of particular interest, yet that might seem and unfair denigration. That does not mean that it will not be of interest to anyone. As with any VSI, it’s a quick read so will not take up too much of your time.  It also comes armed with a very useful list for further reading, should you be inclined to carry on a new-found interest in the subject.

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