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‘Mann Alone’, is an apocalyptic fiction story about the Isle of Man and how the people on the island work to try and protect themselves in the face of an international pandemic that appears to have a 100% death rate. As with all pandemic fiction read in 2020/2021 you can’t help but relate it to the times we’re living in. I was interested to read a smaller island narrative perspective of a pandemic as opposed to the bigger action-style storylines that always seem to focus on larger countries. The reader is brought into the story very quickly, with the new ultra pneumonia virus cases being the immediate focus. I did find the early speech a bit unnatural, the initial scene setting and characterisation a bit blunt. I personally prefer a narrative where we are perhaps shown who’s who instead being told: “Dr. Vihan Sing barged through a door with ‘Chief Exec. Health and Social Services’ on it, a job that could have been his” or something. Perhaps another area that could be looked at to make the overall book more polished is a slight overuse of the word ‘said’, again it’s my personal reading preference but I like a more varied writing style. The plotline itself is interesting and, as I have never been to the Isle of Man, I learnt a lot about the Island. As I said, I think that the author has had a great and unique idea, focusing on a smaller island instead of the more typical America or England focus. Twists and conflicts kept things entertaining as the country worked to protect itself and humanity against this deadly virus. I was intrigued to know what would happen to the people on the island and whether everyone would be able to put their self-interest aside for the sake of the future of humanity. I think that this is a quick and enjoyable read.
Geography has always played a major role in world politics. In this study, Philip Kelly maps the geopolitics of South America, a continent where relative isolation from the power centers in North America and Eurasia and often forbidding internal terrain have given rise to a fascinating and unique geopolitical structure. Kelly uses the geographical concepts of checkerboards and shatterbelts to characterize much of South America's geopolitics and to explain why the continent has never been unified nor dominated by a single nation. This approach accounts for both historical relationships among South American countries and for such current situations as Brazil's inability to extend its authority across the continent from Atlantic to Pacific, its traditional competition with Argentina, its territorial expansion toward the continental heartlands, its encirclement by neighbors fearful of such expansion, and its recent rapprochement with Argentina. An important component of this book is the incorporation of the thinking and writing of South American geopolitical analysts, which leads to an interesting inventory of viewpoints on frontier conflicts, territorial expansion, industrial development, economic cooperation, and United States and European relations. Kelly's findings will be important reading for geographers, political scientists, and students and scholars of Latin American history.