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May 2023



At Atlas of Extinct Countries by Gideon Defoe

Written by , Posted in Reviews

Four Stars

Best for:
People who enjoy clever bits of history, and geography.

In a nutshell:
Defoe explores the origins and collapse of 48 countries.

Worth quoting:
“Note: if your plan involves the British coming to your rescue at any point, then it is a Bad Plan. Can’t emphasise this enough.”

“…countries are just daft stories we tell each other. They’re all equally implausible once you get up close.”

Why I chose it:
I’m a sucker for geography and weird historical facts.

What it left me feeling:

This book was exactly as described, and very entertaining. Obviously a book that deals with real people and real lives has to strike a balance, and Defoe does that quite well.

Each country is covered in five or fewer pages. Each entry includes the now-defunct nation’s population, capital, languages, currency, cause of death, and what nation it is part of today. It also includes the location not in latitude/longitude, but by using three words, as part of the What 3 Words system.

Defoe doesn’t hold back judgment of the people who declare these nations, or destroy these nations. He offers commentary and wit, but also educates the reader. And the very short entries make it a great book to read before bed, when you want to learn something but still be entertained.

Recommend to a Friend / Keep / Donate it / Toss it:
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