As a schoolboy, I avoided reading an assigned book by de Blij. As a somewhat older geography fan leavened by having actually seen some of the planet's geography, I bought Why Geography Matters. Now I'll read Kaplan's book, albeit with more wariness after his detour into NeoCon-hood than with the rapt admiration I paid his thoroughly inspiring Balkan Ghosts.
Adam Gopnik gets the thrilling expanse of geography just right, evoking Atilla the Hun, Ghengis Khan and historians to imaginative effect, and all with a sense of humor:
"Southern peoples are sweaty and stolid, mountain dwellers are springy and defiant … Russians always want a warm weather port and will always have a huddled, suspicious culture whether Tsarist, Soviet, or Putinish."
Read Gopnik. It's twenty minutes well worth your time.