Drawing the Line: Tales of Maps and Cartocontroversy

Mark S. Monmonier, Author
Mark S. Monmonier, Author Henry Holt & Company $27 (368p) ISBN 978-0-8050-2581-1
Reviewed on: 10/31/1994
Release date: 11/01/1994
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Maps, far from being value-neutral, are highly selective, often biased devices that can serve as tools of persuasion, asserts Syracuse University geography professor Monmonier (How to Lie with Maps). This thoroughly entertaining and edifying cartographic odyssey shows how maps have been used to influence foreign policy, subdue native people, redraw electoral districts, promote the theory of continental drift, select sites for hazardous-waste treatment facilities and nuclear power plants and justify claims to underwater mineral rights or slices of Antarctica. While Monmonier faults the Eurocentric Mercator projection (which exaggerates the size of Europe and North America), he nevertheless finds German geographer Arno Peters's alternate world map equally distorted. One chapter relates the bizarre saga of Yale University's Vinland map of North America, purportedly made around 1440, but conceded to be a forgery in 1974. Monmonier also explains how English cartographer Sir Halford Mackinder's geopolitical maps presupposing an inevitable concentration of power in Eurasia were misappropriated by Nazi propagandists to fuel Hitler's pursuit of Lebensraum (living space). Illustrated. (Dec.)
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