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Cover for A Flag Worth Dying For

A Flag Worth Dying For

The Power and Politics of National Symbols (Politics of Place #2)

Tim Marshall


List Price: 26.00*
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Other Editions of This Title:
Paperback (6/12/2018)
Paperback, Chinese (1/8/2020)


Combining keen analysis of current events with world history, Tim Marshall, author of the New York Times bestseller Prisoners of Geography, “one of the best books on geopolitics you could imagine,” (The Evening Standard), explains flags and their symbols—how their power is used to unite and divide populations and intimidate enemies.

From the renewed sense of nationalism in China, to troubled identities in Europe and the USA, to the terrifying rise of Islamic State, the world is a confusing place right now and we need to understand the symbols, old and new, that people are rallying round. For thousands of years flags have represented our hopes and dreams. We wave them. Burn them. March under their colors. And still, in the twenty-first century, we die for them. Flags fly at the UN, on Arab streets, from front porches in Texas. They represent the politics of high power as well as the politics of the mob.

In nine chapters (covering the USA, UK, Europe, Middle East, Asia, Africa, Latin America, international flags, and flags of terror), Tim Marshall’s A Flag Worth Dying For examines the systems of symbols that represent nation states and non-state actors (including ISIS, Hezbollah, and Hamas), and how they figure in diplomatic relations and events today.

Drawing on more than twenty-five years of global reporting experience to reveal the true meaning behind the symbols that unite us—and divide us—A Flag Worth Dying For is a winning combination of current affairs, politics, and world history.

Praise For A Flag Worth Dying For: The Power and Politics of National Symbols (Politics of Place #2)

“[Marshall] writes with the cool drollery that characterized the work of Christopher Hitchens or Simon Winchester. He tackles a topic that many people take seriously without taking himself seriously, and the result is a book that explains where many of the flags that capture the world's imagination come from and why.” —USA Today

“In this brisk, entertaining read, Marshall successfully answers a puzzling question: how can a simple piece of cloth come to mean so much? Marshall presents an informative survey of these highly visible symbols of national or international pride.” 
Publishers Weekly

“Country by country the author considers the great diversity of the world's flags, serving up with offhand affection a lively text full of interesting anecdotes and telling details. A treasure vault for vexillologists, full of meaning beyond the hue and thread of the world's banners.”
Kirkus Reviews

"A fascinating tour of the world's ensigns, their histories and meanings…a sobering lesson in just how silly we human beings can be."
—Daily Mail (UK)

"Insightful and entertaining ... a truly fascinating book that feels all the more considered and urgent in today's world of Brexit, Trump, China and ISIS."
Wanderlust magazine (UK)

"Marshall points out that we often forget the aggressive symbolism of established flags ... [they] are a quick, visual way of communicating loyalties, power and ideas."
The Times (UK)

"A must read for anyone wishing to grasp the meanings behind today's international affairs."
Human Security Centre (UK)

"Marshall has drawn on 25 years as a reporter in 40 countries to produce an engagingly written, veritable page-turner. Whether the topic is ethnic identity, Japanese imperialism, Panamanian shipping law or the defeat of Nazism, flags speak volumes about our human condition."
The Jewish Chronicle

“An entertaining whistle-stop tour of world flags ” Library Journal

“Marshall oscillates between telling the story of the way flags unite us and the way they divide us. He is acutely aware that they often do both at the same time, and it is this tension that brings out his most illuminating writing.” New York Times Book Review

“Bristling with historical trivia and commentary on current events, this entertaining survey of vexillology, the study of flags, examines the banners of more than eighty-five nations, as well as those of the Islamic State, the L.G.B.T.Q. community, and pirates.” The New Yorker

Scribner, 9781501168338, 304pp.

Publication Date: July 4, 2017

About the Author

Tim Marshall is a leading authority on foreign affairs with more than 30 years of reporting experience. He was diplomatic editor at Sky News, and before that was working for the BBC and LBC/IRN radio. He has reported from 40 countries and covered conflicts in Croatia, Bosnia, Macedonia, Kosovo, Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon, Syria and Israel. He is the author of the Sunday Times bestsellers Prisoners of Geography: Ten Maps that Tell You Everything You Need to Know About Global Politics and Divided: Why We’re Living in an Age of Walls; Worth Dying For: The Power and Politics of Flags; and Shadowplay: Behind the Lines and Under Fire. He is founder and editor of the current affairs site