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How to Lie with Maps

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Originally published to wide acclaim, this lively, cleverly illustrated essay on the use and abuse of maps teaches us how to evaluate maps critically and promotes a healthy skepticism about these easy-to-manipulate models of reality. Monmonier shows that, despite their immense value, maps lie. In fact, they must. The second edition is updated with the addition of two new ch Originally published to wide acclaim, this lively, cleverly illustrated essay on the use and abuse of maps teaches us how to evaluate maps critically and promotes a healthy skepticism about these easy-to-manipulate models of reality. Monmonier shows that, despite their immense value, maps lie. In fact, they must. The second edition is updated with the addition of two new chapters, 10 color plates, and a new foreword by renowned geographer H. J. de Blij. One new chapter examines the role of national interest and cultural values in national mapping organizations, including the United States Geological Survey, while the other explores the new breed of multimedia, computer-based maps. To show how maps distort, Monmonier introduces basic principles of mapmaking, gives entertaining examples of the misuse of maps in situations from zoning disputes to census reports, and covers all the typical kinds of distortions from deliberate oversimplifications to the misleading use of color. "Professor Monmonier himself knows how to gain our attention; it is not in fact the lies in maps but their truth, if always approximate and incomplete, that he wants us to admire and use, even to draw for ourselves on the facile screen. His is an artful and funny book, which like any good map, packs plenty in little space."—Scientific American "A useful guide to a subject most people probably take too much for granted. It shows how map makers translate abstract data into eye-catching cartograms, as they are called. It combats cartographic illiteracy. It fights cartophobia. It may even teach you to find your way. For that alone, it seems worthwhile."—Christopher Lehmann-Haupt, The New York Times ". . . witty examination of how and why maps lie. [The book] conveys an important message about how statistics of any kind can be manipulated. But it also communicates much of the challenge, aesthetic appeal, and sheer fun of maps. Even those who hated geography in grammar school might well find a new enthusiasm for the subject after reading Monmonier's lively and surprising book."—Wilson Library Bulletin "A reading of this book will leave you much better defended against cheap atlases, shoddy journalism, unscrupulous advertisers, predatory special-interest groups, and others who may use or abuse maps at your expense."—John Van Pelt, Christian Science Monitor "Monmonier meets his goal admirably. . . . [His] book should be put on every map user's 'must read' list. It is informative and readable . . . a big step forward in helping us to understand how maps can mislead their readers."—Jeffrey S. Murray, Canadian Geographic


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Originally published to wide acclaim, this lively, cleverly illustrated essay on the use and abuse of maps teaches us how to evaluate maps critically and promotes a healthy skepticism about these easy-to-manipulate models of reality. Monmonier shows that, despite their immense value, maps lie. In fact, they must. The second edition is updated with the addition of two new ch Originally published to wide acclaim, this lively, cleverly illustrated essay on the use and abuse of maps teaches us how to evaluate maps critically and promotes a healthy skepticism about these easy-to-manipulate models of reality. Monmonier shows that, despite their immense value, maps lie. In fact, they must. The second edition is updated with the addition of two new chapters, 10 color plates, and a new foreword by renowned geographer H. J. de Blij. One new chapter examines the role of national interest and cultural values in national mapping organizations, including the United States Geological Survey, while the other explores the new breed of multimedia, computer-based maps. To show how maps distort, Monmonier introduces basic principles of mapmaking, gives entertaining examples of the misuse of maps in situations from zoning disputes to census reports, and covers all the typical kinds of distortions from deliberate oversimplifications to the misleading use of color. "Professor Monmonier himself knows how to gain our attention; it is not in fact the lies in maps but their truth, if always approximate and incomplete, that he wants us to admire and use, even to draw for ourselves on the facile screen. His is an artful and funny book, which like any good map, packs plenty in little space."—Scientific American "A useful guide to a subject most people probably take too much for granted. It shows how map makers translate abstract data into eye-catching cartograms, as they are called. It combats cartographic illiteracy. It fights cartophobia. It may even teach you to find your way. For that alone, it seems worthwhile."—Christopher Lehmann-Haupt, The New York Times ". . . witty examination of how and why maps lie. [The book] conveys an important message about how statistics of any kind can be manipulated. But it also communicates much of the challenge, aesthetic appeal, and sheer fun of maps. Even those who hated geography in grammar school might well find a new enthusiasm for the subject after reading Monmonier's lively and surprising book."—Wilson Library Bulletin "A reading of this book will leave you much better defended against cheap atlases, shoddy journalism, unscrupulous advertisers, predatory special-interest groups, and others who may use or abuse maps at your expense."—John Van Pelt, Christian Science Monitor "Monmonier meets his goal admirably. . . . [His] book should be put on every map user's 'must read' list. It is informative and readable . . . a big step forward in helping us to understand how maps can mislead their readers."—Jeffrey S. Murray, Canadian Geographic

30 review for How to Lie with Maps

  1. 5 out of 5

    HBalikov

    The phrase "photo shopped" or "photoshopped" has crept into our daily life. It comes from the software titled Photoshop that allow manipulation of an original photo. When used pejoratively, it means that someone has tried to fool us by changing the image that we perceive. Maps, as graphic material, can also be used for similar ill-purposes. The way a map displays information can distort either the original data or lead the unwary to false conclusions. Some of the chapter titles: Maps that Advertis The phrase "photo shopped" or "photoshopped" has crept into our daily life. It comes from the software titled Photoshop that allow manipulation of an original photo. When used pejoratively, it means that someone has tried to fool us by changing the image that we perceive. Maps, as graphic material, can also be used for similar ill-purposes. The way a map displays information can distort either the original data or lead the unwary to false conclusions. Some of the chapter titles: Maps that Advertise Development Maps (or, How to Seduce the Town Board) Maps for Political Propaganda Maps, Defense, and Disinformation: Fool Thine Enemy Data Maps: Making Nonsense of the Census This book is a clear and clever survey of such manipulations and it opened my eyes to what might be done and clarified what, at times, I had expected. There is a newer edition but this was quite adequate for my needs (and the one my library could get for me).

  2. 4 out of 5

    Erin

    One of my professors recommended reading this, and with its flashy cover and catchy title, I thought I would give it a try. The book was easy to read and had some interesting examples of cases in which maps had been manipulated for all sorts of reasons, but the book is very outdated. I have the 1996 version, and it was amusing to read the parts that describe technology as something people had no grasp on (How monitors and cursors work, for instance) Further, many of the secrets to spotting a mis One of my professors recommended reading this, and with its flashy cover and catchy title, I thought I would give it a try. The book was easy to read and had some interesting examples of cases in which maps had been manipulated for all sorts of reasons, but the book is very outdated. I have the 1996 version, and it was amusing to read the parts that describe technology as something people had no grasp on (How monitors and cursors work, for instance) Further, many of the secrets to spotting a misleading map are mostly a given today. If you didn't know any of this going into the book, I'm not sure you would be so minded to pick up the book in the first place. Another problem I have with books that seek to explain how things work are when they use hypothetical examples, which is most prominent in Chapter 10. I feel they really only work in specific fields of philosophy, and I'm not sure why the author couldn't find a real life example of urban/rural differences. In addition, his train of thought is a bit awkward sometimes-- he'll make a point to mention that cartographers are underpaid and undervalued, or he'll make assumptions about class or industries that we would be a bit more sensitive about today. I did enjoy the case examples and cartographic history facts that are sprinkled throughout the text (Like, did you know Seattle was accidentally omitted from an official AAA road map in the 1960's?) I would like to see an updated version of this book. So much has changed since 1996 in the data world, but mapping remains an important expression of various kinds of data. I would like to read something similar if anyone has any recommendations.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Ed

    A lovely little book, a faux primer on how to fool the gullible with different tricks of the cartographers art and actually a guide on how not to get fooled by the same. Monmonier makes the point that all maps are compromises, that many contain errors and more than a few are produced for specific ends--sell a development project in Ethiopia, housing estate a flood plain or a war in Iraq. Seems simple and the first chapter can be skipped by those who--unlike me-- recall their grammar school geogr A lovely little book, a faux primer on how to fool the gullible with different tricks of the cartographers art and actually a guide on how not to get fooled by the same. Monmonier makes the point that all maps are compromises, that many contain errors and more than a few are produced for specific ends--sell a development project in Ethiopia, housing estate a flood plain or a war in Iraq. Seems simple and the first chapter can be skipped by those who--unlike me-- recall their grammar school geography and map lessons but, like a good map, loaded with useful and interesting information.

  4. 4 out of 5

    BellaGBear

    A bit outdated, but this book still gives a nice insight into the choices mapmakers face. Especially the chapter about map making programms was very outdated, because a lot of the things mentioned as maybe possible in the future are very common nowadays, such as interactive maps. The book explains those choices in several chapters explainign as well what can go wrong and how mapmakers can use those choices to give a certain idea of an area. I like maps and geography a lot, so the book was intere A bit outdated, but this book still gives a nice insight into the choices mapmakers face. Especially the chapter about map making programms was very outdated, because a lot of the things mentioned as maybe possible in the future are very common nowadays, such as interactive maps. The book explains those choices in several chapters explainign as well what can go wrong and how mapmakers can use those choices to give a certain idea of an area. I like maps and geography a lot, so the book was interesting for me. Also there were a lot of pictures with the examples the book gives, which made it easy to understand what the author wanted to say.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Shane Parrish

    This book is a concrete explanation of how the representation of a thing can differ wildly from the thing itself. We all use some form of map practically every day, but we can forget that maps are made by fallible humans. As a result, they can be manipulated with ease to create particular impressions of the world. How to Lie with Maps will arm you with the knowledge necessary to recognize the ways in which the maps you use may be distorting your perspective.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Andrew

    How to Lie with Maps reviews the various ways maps can deceive percipients who don’t interpret maps carefully. As stated in chapter one, this book is not meant to help mischievous cartographers. Rather, its purpose is to encourage the general public to be more critical and selective in their map interpretation. The book includes twelve main chapters that explain general categories of cartographic deception. Due to this large amount of specific ideas in the book, it is easiest to divide a critiq How to Lie with Maps reviews the various ways maps can deceive percipients who don’t interpret maps carefully. As stated in chapter one, this book is not meant to help mischievous cartographers. Rather, its purpose is to encourage the general public to be more critical and selective in their map interpretation. The book includes twelve main chapters that explain general categories of cartographic deception. Due to this large amount of specific ideas in the book, it is easiest to divide a critique of its content into a few main parts: positive aspects, negative aspects, and applications. POSITIVE ASPECTS The book starts off with an introduction to scales, projections, and how maps are generally created. This helps the average reader understand the tools used by cartographers to produce maps, thus helping to convey the inner workings. The general organization of the book is also helpful. Despite a lot of somewhat disconnected information, the book is generally sectioned off by the purpose of the map or a design principle. This connotes to the reader that how a map is used is just as important as the technique used to accomplish it. Third, How to Lie with Maps is packed full of rich nuggets of insight. One example of this comes from the maps generally used in classrooms. Green designates areas of low elevation, brown medium heights, and white denotes high elevations. Although these are useful ways of depicting information, green is often thought to show lush vegetation, brown to show deserted areas, and white the top of a snow-capped mountain. Of course, these correlations are not always so. NEGATIVE ASPECTS The first noticeably problematic aspect of the book is its difficult sentence structure. Long sentences and difficult wording are more consistent with scholarly writings and don’t match the intended audience—that is, the general public. Because of this, reading a sentence twice sometimes did not yield a full understanding of what the author was trying to convey. Dated at 1996, How to Lie with Maps is also not current with today’s modern, connected world. While the book does touch on the use of electronics to create customized, dynamic maps, it ignores the revolution of the internet and cellular technologies. Important advances such as cached map services, cloud computing, and even crowd sourcing has created a whole new set of issues in the reliability of maps and how they are used. Third, many of the visualizations are poorly presented. Words in the text describe areas that are not easily seen without diligent searching of the map area, such as the maps on pages 50 and 91, which describe areas encircled by a mass of other points of information. Another specific example of this issue appears on page 31, where a small-scale map is blown up to be compared with its large-scale equivalent. While this juxtaposition is helpful, the two images need labels or such to help show the comparison. APPLICATIONS Despite these drawbacks, the book is an incredibly useful tool for many working GIS professionals as well as the general public. This book comes with high recommendations. Those working specifically in GIS, for example, can use its principles to effectively display data. First, GIS usually yields a lot of data, which can be hard to present effectively. This book helps with design principles to overcome that challenge. Second, those data are often used to make a point or persuade someone. A developer, for instance, might want to persuade a city board to approve his new plan. On the other side of this point, this book helps a city planner see where a cartographer may be trying to present more falsehoods than are necessary on a map. Other persuasive fields can use these principles. Business GIS, for instance, involves a lot of advertising. Maps can be a means of persuading a business board to put a new facility somewhere or withdraw from a certain market. In short, any geographer, as well as common person, can greatly benefit from the information in this book. It truly is a book for anyone wary of cartographic falsehood.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Margaret Sankey

    Students are always amazed that maps are not perfectly objective sources of information, but carefully constructed documents with agendas of their own--Monmonier explores the spectrum of map deception, from prank locations inserted by cartographers to the very dangerous drawing of contentious borders.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Michael Scott

    Monmonier's How to Lie with Maps follows in the footsteps of Darrell Huff's How To Lie With Statistics, focusing on the tricks of mapmaking. In short, maps are depictions of information with geographical meaning and as such they may misreport with or without intent. Monmonier introduces the most important cartography notions and gives many examples of "lying with maps" for various purposes. Despite the use of smart phrase-turns and of coining interesting words such as "cartopropaganda"--the use Monmonier's How to Lie with Maps follows in the footsteps of Darrell Huff's How To Lie With Statistics, focusing on the tricks of mapmaking. In short, maps are depictions of information with geographical meaning and as such they may misreport with or without intent. Monmonier introduces the most important cartography notions and gives many examples of "lying with maps" for various purposes. Despite the use of smart phrase-turns and of coining interesting words such as "cartopropaganda"--the use of cartography in propaganda--, the book falls short from its purpose in that it describes only basic (and thus gross) misuses of maps and it over-analyzes these misuses.

  9. 5 out of 5

    ♠ TABI⁷ ♠

    "Not only is it easy to lie with maps it is ESSENTIAL." I'm 100% certain that misunderstanding this title and the above first-sentence was NOT the intention of my parents raising me with an understanding of biblical Old English . . . "Not only is it easy to lie with maps it is ESSENTIAL." I'm 100% certain that misunderstanding this title and the above first-sentence was NOT the intention of my parents raising me with an understanding of biblical Old English . . .

  10. 4 out of 5

    Jeff Aldrich

    Do not let the title fool you - this is one of the best primers on how all maps are - one way or another - a distortion of facts - and how to see the errors in maps. A must read for anyone who makes any type of map or spends time interpreting maps. A Classic!

  11. 5 out of 5

    Andrew

    Disappointing book. Not written in an engaging style. It had potential to be very interesting, but I think the author blew it.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Warren Wulff

    A solid book about not only mapping misdirection, but also a look at cartography and mapping in general, and a new section on online mapping. It was certainly good to learn some terminology and understand that not all map mistakes are outright deceptions but sometimes inbuilt biases. Further, all maps need to be exclusive in what info they show so they not display a mess. There are some downsides to this book. One is that general topics like map projections are started but not fully explored, so A solid book about not only mapping misdirection, but also a look at cartography and mapping in general, and a new section on online mapping. It was certainly good to learn some terminology and understand that not all map mistakes are outright deceptions but sometimes inbuilt biases. Further, all maps need to be exclusive in what info they show so they not display a mess. There are some downsides to this book. One is that general topics like map projections are started but not fully explored, so one is left wanting either more information or wishing the topic wasn’t brought up as fully as it was. Some topics go into depths I wasn’t expecting, like how to use maps to determine if you are getting screwed on property taxes and then how to appeal to city hall. Oddly specific. I feel this book would have done better to have introduced up front the common “lies”, maybe using fun-to-remember terms, so one could use them as guideposts through the discussion. This wasn’t done, which made it harder to track if what was being described was outright lies, honest blunders, or the necessary white lies of mapping (one term the author used that I liked). I will also add that the author encourages people to be very sceptical in many ways about maps, sometimes seemingly to the point that maps should be treated as outright suspect. While a healthy skepticism is good, it must be healthy. In an age of conspiracy theories, this book would have done better to explain when a map (and its mapping agency) SHOULD be trusted. When one’s good skepticism says, “This is a good map.” Instead, I can see a book like this used by conspiracy theorists to say almost any map they see is a fabrication. Still, while the topics chosen seem a bit scattershot, and perhaps one must be selective to keep the page count down, the information itself is well written and the history of US topographic mapping (off topic for the “lies” focus of this book) was fascinating.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Erika RS

    Note: I bought the second edition of this book before the 22-year-more-recent 3rd edition was released -- which I did not learn existed until I was all but done with the 2nd edition (thanks Amazon?). However, I had access to the 3rd edition through Scribd, so I read the updated last three chapters. I did lightly skim the earlier chapters and they looked mostly unchanged. So this review will be mostly of the 2nd edition, but I will say something about the new chapters of the 3rd edition. The openi Note: I bought the second edition of this book before the 22-year-more-recent 3rd edition was released -- which I did not learn existed until I was all but done with the 2nd edition (thanks Amazon?). However, I had access to the 3rd edition through Scribd, so I read the updated last three chapters. I did lightly skim the earlier chapters and they looked mostly unchanged. So this review will be mostly of the 2nd edition, but I will say something about the new chapters of the 3rd edition. The opening chapters that discuss the conventions and compromise of cartography were my favorite. Maps must necessarily distort reality. At a fundamental level, they are scaled representations of reality that must represent the world through symbols. They cannot show everything so the map maker must choose what to show based on the purpose of the map. They generally aim for accuracy, but that is within constraints. For example, if a road and railroad lie right next to each other, one or both lines may be slightly offset to allow both to be shown. Many of the remaining chapters talk about ways that maps might be deceiving. The content of these chapters are good, but I'll admit that the "How to Lie with" framing is not one that resonates with me particularly well. I'd much rather have the author play it straight. That said, the framing was mostly subdued enough to not be too distracting. A map can deceive through cartographic blunders, both from the cartographer and from unintentional sources like print quality. Maps used for advertising and maps used for political propaganda both capitalize on the ability of maps to evoke emotions, especially through the choice of imagery and color. Development maps, such as for neighborhood construction, aim to be more objective but can also try to evoke emotional reactions to use a point, such as showing trees as large and full grown. Defense maps can be state secrets -- even just knowing where a country is interested in can reveal information -- but they can also be used to spread disinformation to the enemy (although this is harder now that high resolution current imagery is more available). Government maps are not actively deceptive, but they do have to make choices and compromises to create huge numbers of detailed maps on a budget. My favorite chapter in the later part of the book was on data maps. When maps are representing aggregated data, the choice of how to aggregate the data can make a huge difference in the message delivered. For example, in single dimensional data, the number of buckets used, the boundaries between buckets, and the geographic boundaries of the buckets can result in dramatically different maps. Thinking about the data before placing it on a map, such as thinking about categorizations of are already recognized and looking for underlying, non-geographic patterns in the data, can help make a more honest data map. The chapter on color was also interesting although the digression into color theory seemed largely unnecessary. The main takeaway is that color is better used to convey category. Using color for scale tends to be ambiguous since colors do not have a natural ordering. That doesn't mean scales should be greyscale, but scales should be a one or two color gradient rather than having a scale with many colors. A map specific challenge with color is that color also can be used to convey the nature of the natural landscape such as green for vegetation and blue for water. The symbolic use of color must be chosen carefully to compliment rather than conflict with this representative association. The old chapter on multimedia maps was completely obsolete and is what was replaced in the 3rd edition. The 3rd edition adds additional chapters on image maps, prohibitive cartography, and fast maps. Image maps are maps created from overhead imagery, and Monmonier notes them as one of the huge innovations in maps in the twenty-first century. They are complementary to line maps: they contain more details (trees!) but they can be harder to interpret (where is the road through the trees?). The chapter on prohibitive cartography discusses how maps that encode boundaries become the source of truth for what those boundaries are; this can be a source of contention. Fast maps is Monmonier's term for maps that change or are disseminated quickly. This includes fast spreading memes. It also includes interactive maps. Interactive maps can provide ways for users to inquire into the data more deeply and can move through many levels of detail. In fact, Monmonier brings up a suspiciously familiar 22 levels of detail. (Suspicious because that's what Google Maps uses, even though it's not mentioned by name in that section.) Overall, this book was interesting, but I tend to be highly interested in maps. I don't have a good sense for how it would read to someone who is casually interested in maps. Probably interesting? But overall, the "How to lie" framing combined with many of the examples being rather dated (even in the 3rd edition, based on my skim) made the book less impactful than it might have been otherwise, so 3 stars overall.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Phrodrick

    The case for Mark Monmonier’s How to Lie with Maps as a 4 or 5 star read is defensible. The non-professional cartographer will have little problem reading it and it does have good information. The very first sentence is “Not only is it easy to lie with maps, it is essential”; so maybe it was never intended to be sensational. The intended reader is a novice map maker or someone with a casual interest in making or reading maps. If you have had any training, much of it will be review. The first 45 p The case for Mark Monmonier’s How to Lie with Maps as a 4 or 5 star read is defensible. The non-professional cartographer will have little problem reading it and it does have good information. The very first sentence is “Not only is it easy to lie with maps, it is essential”; so maybe it was never intended to be sensational. The intended reader is a novice map maker or someone with a casual interest in making or reading maps. If you have had any training, much of it will be review. The first 45 pages are basic map concepts. Projections, scale and the like. Roughly the first hour in a one week map making class. Next the reader is advised to avoid mistakes and we begin to get into the discussions of particular decisions and how they affect the way a map might be interpreted. This is 25% of the pages before any actual lies. The remaining pages vary between decisions a professional map make will make while legitimately serving his customer and a few things that a sharp consumer of maps may want to consider when reading a map. For example, was the map created to serve a limited, possibly selfish purpose, like promoting a business or was it printed to provide a general reader with particular information; how to get off the mountain and back to civilization? Part of my job is making maps. I am not a professional cartographer. My maps are designed to inform command level decisions. It is important for me to make my maps as informative as possible and to avoid mistakes that might not serve the larger interests of my community. Towards the end of How to Lie with Maps there are reminders to not accept the default setting my GIS program picks for me and to be conscious of the data and its possible meaning. For example, depending on settings I can paint my map to look like everywhere is terrible, or that very particular areas are terrible. Everywhere is terrible is of little value because it says nothing about where help is most needed. Painting the same areas as terrible every time means that areas that may need help will never get that help. A better version of How to Lie With Maps would be one less focused on the novice. Monmonier is correct that many map customers do not know what they are looking at or how a map may mislead. I wanted more that would inform my technical awareness and my ethics. How to Lie with Maps is less than my needs.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Daniel Morgan

    This was a clear, enjoyable book about the use of white lies, propaganda, subtle manipulation, and other distortions of the truth in map-making. The beginning of the book focuses on the basic fact that all maps, to be effective, need to lie - it is impossible to faithfully project a 3-D world on a flat surface, and it is impossible to record every possible detail of real life onto a map. The book describes basic visual variables and the common generalizations (smoothing, selection, displacement, This was a clear, enjoyable book about the use of white lies, propaganda, subtle manipulation, and other distortions of the truth in map-making. The beginning of the book focuses on the basic fact that all maps, to be effective, need to lie - it is impossible to faithfully project a 3-D world on a flat surface, and it is impossible to record every possible detail of real life onto a map. The book describes basic visual variables and the common generalizations (smoothing, selection, displacement, etc.) that are necessary to make a functional map. The rest of the book describes a variety of different ways that maps can distort the truth - honest mistakes, propaganda, deliberate disinformation, and even variations in data aggregation. A map is not a neutral document, but rather an argument, produced by an author for an audience - this book is a guide to help map-users navigate this reality. I liked this book, but I did not love it. As many reviewers have noted, the book is massively out-of-date. The University of Chicago is threatening to publish a new version "for the digital age" later in 2018 - I am curious to see if that version is actually better. In addition, I wished that the author spent more time exploring the rhetoric and ideology of map-making. While he touched on the topic, I think a deep exploration of historical and contemporary maps would have been fascinating - what do maps say about how people view the world, about their values, about what they view as significant and insignificant? I also think the book would be improved by exploring non-Western maps and mapmaking traditions.

  16. 4 out of 5

    V.

    Sharp and readable, but shockingly outdated. It hadn't occured to me when I picked it up, since the book was only written in the 90s (practically yesterday!), but it might as well have been a century ago. The discussion of errors in maps spends a great deal of time on ink transfer; color is assumed to be a luxury, computers are treated somewhat dismissively, and much of the treatment of the logistics of map production is by now hopelessly outdated, along with many of its assumptions about (for i Sharp and readable, but shockingly outdated. It hadn't occured to me when I picked it up, since the book was only written in the 90s (practically yesterday!), but it might as well have been a century ago. The discussion of errors in maps spends a great deal of time on ink transfer; color is assumed to be a luxury, computers are treated somewhat dismissively, and much of the treatment of the logistics of map production is by now hopelessly outdated, along with many of its assumptions about (for instance) what kind of data is readily available and what is not. The chapters on geopolitics, alas, focus almost exclusively on the mysteries of the Soviet Union, and it would also have been extremely helpful for the chapter on color perception to have been printed in... yknow... color. Nonetheless a pretty witty and insightful book. I would love to enjoy a similarly readable treatment of these topics that was more up-to-date.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Justin Gilstrap

    Considered to be one of the most influential books in the history of the study of geography. Monmonier captures a really significant movement in cartography from the conception of maps as objective representations of reality to inherent reflections of cartographic choice and focus. Though dated, I have read it several times- both the first and second editions. Monmonier does a decent job of making what could be a very abstruse topic accessible to a general audience with his breezy, though someti Considered to be one of the most influential books in the history of the study of geography. Monmonier captures a really significant movement in cartography from the conception of maps as objective representations of reality to inherent reflections of cartographic choice and focus. Though dated, I have read it several times- both the first and second editions. Monmonier does a decent job of making what could be a very abstruse topic accessible to a general audience with his breezy, though sometimes hokey, style. It's a useful thing to read periodically as an inoculation against the creeping assumption of maps as simple representations, especially in the context of GIS map production.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Matthew Selvaggio

    Everything I learned about Geography was a lie.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Stephen

    What I remember most about this book is its first line: "Not only is it easy to lie with maps it is ESSENTIAL." Maps have to distort some information and omit so much else. What I remember most about this book is its first line: "Not only is it easy to lie with maps it is ESSENTIAL." Maps have to distort some information and omit so much else.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Sherry Schwabacher

    Too dry. Filled with math and really BAD illustrations. For a book that is trying to show what good maps and bad maps look like, the graphics were terrible.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Aaron Koelker

    Kind of a hard book to read and review in 2020, as it has become so incredibly dated. The information is still correct, but the writing is dry and having to read through things like the function of a mouse cursor is an exercise in patience. The chapter on maps in advertising was still pretty interesting, and probably the most engaging for me. The visual examples are incredibly eye-straining, with jarring fill patterns in complete black and white. Picture Microsoft Paint on Windows 95 (which, giv Kind of a hard book to read and review in 2020, as it has become so incredibly dated. The information is still correct, but the writing is dry and having to read through things like the function of a mouse cursor is an exercise in patience. The chapter on maps in advertising was still pretty interesting, and probably the most engaging for me. The visual examples are incredibly eye-straining, with jarring fill patterns in complete black and white. Picture Microsoft Paint on Windows 95 (which, given my 2nd Edition copy was released in 1996, might be the actual case). Being a little ugly is one thing, but they are often hard to decipher as well. You'd expect a book about maps to have better ones. There is a small section of colored pages toward the back, so I have to imagine that keeping the majority of graphics limited to b&w was a printing-cost decision. But since the core of the book is about data visualizations, I feel like the extra cost would have been worth it, even if it meant a more expensive book for the customer.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Clayton

    This was a very interesting read; I added it to my list after hearing Alex Hill mention it in a talk on mapping. Having no real background in geography/cartography, I felt like it was written at a level I could (mostly) understand. It was originally published in the early 90s and the focus of the book is primarily on print maps. This latest edition (I should note I haven't read any of the earlier versions) has updated the content with some discussion of digital mapping, including a few new chapte This was a very interesting read; I added it to my list after hearing Alex Hill mention it in a talk on mapping. Having no real background in geography/cartography, I felt like it was written at a level I could (mostly) understand. It was originally published in the early 90s and the focus of the book is primarily on print maps. This latest edition (I should note I haven't read any of the earlier versions) has updated the content with some discussion of digital mapping, including a few new chapters, but the updates really didn't feel adequate. They seemed largely tacked-on, and I would've preferred a much deeper look into how the principles outlined in this book can be applied to digital and so-called "fast" maps. That's probably an entirely different book's worth of content, which I think I would've preferred.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Mina Goldman

    Some reservations: The author is not the best stylist. (Not the worst, either, though.) But this did alter my perception of maps quite a bit. It's not that I ever really trusted them or anything, but I approached them as tertiary sources, aggregations of knowledge about which no one is an expert. As such, I saw them as having thoroughly confused authorial intent and, as such, too confused to be primary sources. This book showed me the different types of thought that go into the construction of a Some reservations: The author is not the best stylist. (Not the worst, either, though.) But this did alter my perception of maps quite a bit. It's not that I ever really trusted them or anything, but I approached them as tertiary sources, aggregations of knowledge about which no one is an expert. As such, I saw them as having thoroughly confused authorial intent and, as such, too confused to be primary sources. This book showed me the different types of thought that go into the construction of a map. Would I recommend this book generally? Kinda. I think the world would be a better place if everyone understood this book. But I most recommend it to historians and anyone who interacts with maps in a professional capacity.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Ralph

    I had Prof. Monmonier as a teacher while taking geography courses at Syracuse University. While I passed his course in cartography I was totally confused at the time on the process that he described for turning data into a physical map. I felt the same way in reading his descriptions of the interpretation of data and the use of colors in developing maps. I also totally agree with other reviewers that the graphics in this book leave MUCH to be desired. In the words of one reviewer the graphics “. I had Prof. Monmonier as a teacher while taking geography courses at Syracuse University. While I passed his course in cartography I was totally confused at the time on the process that he described for turning data into a physical map. I felt the same way in reading his descriptions of the interpretation of data and the use of colors in developing maps. I also totally agree with other reviewers that the graphics in this book leave MUCH to be desired. In the words of one reviewer the graphics “...are atrocious...”. I couldn’t agree more. I spent many minutes trying to see what he described in text as being clearly shown on the figures/plates in the book.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Judi

    Inspired by the book "How to Lie with Statistics" Monmonier explores how maps can be used to either enhance understanding to warp it. He explores topics such as projection, color use, iconography and inclusion/omission decisions. He's right in that all maps must lie to a certain extent. How much detail and what detail should be included in any map is subjective and a slave to its author's goals. The informed map reader must be aware that bias, and sometimes downright prejudice, play a role in ev Inspired by the book "How to Lie with Statistics" Monmonier explores how maps can be used to either enhance understanding to warp it. He explores topics such as projection, color use, iconography and inclusion/omission decisions. He's right in that all maps must lie to a certain extent. How much detail and what detail should be included in any map is subjective and a slave to its author's goals. The informed map reader must be aware that bias, and sometimes downright prejudice, play a role in every map one looks at. While informative, the text is on the dry side and needs to be updated for today's technology.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Karen

    Although this engaging and readable book has often been used as a college-level textbook, author Monmonier envisions his target audience as "the intelligent lay reader who is curious about maps." His discussions range from why some things need to be deliberately fudged during mapmaking (e.g., a roadmap, for clarity, usually portrays roads as much wider than they actually are) to exposing how maps can be deliberately falsified or act as propaganda for organizations, corporations, or governments. Although this engaging and readable book has often been used as a college-level textbook, author Monmonier envisions his target audience as "the intelligent lay reader who is curious about maps." His discussions range from why some things need to be deliberately fudged during mapmaking (e.g., a roadmap, for clarity, usually portrays roads as much wider than they actually are) to exposing how maps can be deliberately falsified or act as propaganda for organizations, corporations, or governments. Since the copyright for the 2nd edition was 1996, read the updated 3rd (2018) edition if you can, which includes information about digital maps.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Sander

    The preface of the third edition (2018) states that a lot has changed since the previous edition (1996). Radical changes took place in making and viewing maps. However, this edition only barely reflects that. Information is so outdated that I didn't finish the book. It talks about how faxing a map can affect the readability, or how screens nowadays can display 65,000 colors (they can all display over 16 million colors, some can display over a billion colors). If a new, *actually* updated version w The preface of the third edition (2018) states that a lot has changed since the previous edition (1996). Radical changes took place in making and viewing maps. However, this edition only barely reflects that. Information is so outdated that I didn't finish the book. It talks about how faxing a map can affect the readability, or how screens nowadays can display 65,000 colors (they can all display over 16 million colors, some can display over a billion colors). If a new, *actually* updated version would be published, I would definitely be interested in (re)reading it. But in the current version, I stopped after a few chapters because I just couldn't see through the outdated information.

  28. 5 out of 5

    J I

    A massive map nerd, every time I see this title I think I want to read it. I've picked it up from the library and started it a couple times, but just can't seem to get through it. Part of the problem is that, despite being an 'updated' second edition, it's now 20 years old, and it shows--I might give this another shot in a newer edition. (Preferably one with a professional illustrator. The graphics in this edition are atrocious.) A massive map nerd, every time I see this title I think I want to read it. I've picked it up from the library and started it a couple times, but just can't seem to get through it. Part of the problem is that, despite being an 'updated' second edition, it's now 20 years old, and it shows--I might give this another shot in a newer edition. (Preferably one with a professional illustrator. The graphics in this edition are atrocious.)

  29. 4 out of 5

    Jacob Wall

    A classic, if a bit dated, read for anyone interested in making or using maps. While there have been significant changes in GIS and cartographic technology and methods since this book's publication, the lessons Monmonier present within still ring true. In fact, in many ways I think the lessons provided within are perhaps even more relevant in 2018, as the ability to to access geospatial data and make maps has become even more accessible and common place to people. A classic, if a bit dated, read for anyone interested in making or using maps. While there have been significant changes in GIS and cartographic technology and methods since this book's publication, the lessons Monmonier present within still ring true. In fact, in many ways I think the lessons provided within are perhaps even more relevant in 2018, as the ability to to access geospatial data and make maps has become even more accessible and common place to people.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Margo Berendsen

    I knew all the basics about how maps white lie, i.e. projections, generalizations, aggregations, classifications, but this book did a thoughtful job of discussing even more ripe opportunities for misrepresentation, including my favorite part, the propaganda maps. I would love to see this book updated with better quality maps and graphics but I no complaint about my favorite (tongue in cheek) map in the book, a Nazi propaganda map where the country of Germany is completely isolated, a single floa I knew all the basics about how maps white lie, i.e. projections, generalizations, aggregations, classifications, but this book did a thoughtful job of discussing even more ripe opportunities for misrepresentation, including my favorite part, the propaganda maps. I would love to see this book updated with better quality maps and graphics but I no complaint about my favorite (tongue in cheek) map in the book, a Nazi propaganda map where the country of Germany is completely isolated, a single floating speck with the rest of the world deleted, with a map next to it of the British Empire spread out across the world. The message is: oh, what's the big deal if we annex Poland? Look what Britain did!

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