A wide-ranging journey through the history of borders and an examination of their role in shaping our world today.
Since the earliest known marker denoting the edge of one land and the beginning of the next—a stone column inscribed with Sumerian cuneiform—borders have been imagined, mapped, moved, and fought over. In The Edge of the Plain, James Crawford skillfully blends history, travel writing, and reportage to trace these borderlines throughout history and across the globe: from bloody territorial disputes in Mesopotamia, to the battlegrounds of ancient Greece, the Sápmi lands of Scandinavia, the shifting boundaries of the Israel-Palestine conflict, the drawing of America’s Mason-Dixon Line, the dangerous border crossings pursued by migrants into Europe, and the “Great Green Wall” in Africa, envisioned as an international, community-built bulwark against desertification.
Borders are as old as human civilization and focal points for today’s colliding forces of nationalism, climate change, globalization, and mass migration. The Edge of the Plain illuminates lines of separation past and present, how we define them—and how they define us.