Rhumb Lines and Map Wars
A Social History of the Mercator Projection
By (author) Mark S. Monmonier
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Rhumb Lines and Map Wars by Mark S. Monmonier
Book DescriptionIn "Rhumb Lines and Map Wars," Mark Monmonier offers an insightful, richly illustrated account of the controversies surrounding Flemish cartographer Gerard Mercator's legacy. He takes us back to 1569, when Mercator announced a clever method of portraying the earth on a flat surface, creating the first projection to take into account the earth's roundness. As Monmonier shows, mariners benefited most from Mercator's projection, which allowed for easy navigation of the high seas with rhumb lines clear-cut routes with a constant compass bearing for true direction. But the projection's popularity among nineteenth-century sailors led to its overuse often in inappropriate, non-navigational ways for wall maps, world atlases, and geopolitical propaganda. Because it distorts the proportionate size of countries, the Mercator map was criticized for inflating Europe and North America in a promotion of colonialism. In 1974, German historian Arno Peters proffered his own map, on which countries were ostensibly drawn in true proportion to one another. In the ensuing "map wars" of the 1970s and 1980s, these dueling projections vied for public support with varying degrees of success. Widely acclaimed for his accessible, intelligent books on maps and mapping, Monmonier here examines the uses and limitations of one of cartography's most significant innovations. With informed skepticism, he offers insightful interpretations of why well-intentioned clerics and development advocates rallied around the Peters projection, which flagrantly distorted the shape of Third World nations; why journalists covering the controversy ignored alternative world maps and other key issues; and how a few postmodern writers defended the Peters worldview with a self-serving overstatement of the power of maps. "Rhumb Lines and Map Wars" is vintage Monmonier: historically rich, beautifully written, and fully engaged with the issues of our time."
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Book DetailsISBN: 9780226534312
(212mm x 149mm x 23mm)
Imprint: University of Chicago Press
Publisher: The University of Chicago Press
Publish Date: 12-Oct-2004
Country of Publication: United States
Books By Author Mark S. Monmonier
Spying with Maps, Paperback (April 2004)
In Spying with Maps, the "mapmatician" Mark Monmonier looks at the increased use of geographic data, satellite imagery, and location tracking across a wide range of fields such as military intelligence, law enforcement, market research, and traffic engineering.
Air Apparent, Paperback (November 2000)
Presenting the story of the weather map, this book traces its history; discusses debates among scientists on the enigma of storms and global change; explains strategies for mapping the upper atmosphere and forecasting disaster; and exposes the efforts to detect and control air pollution.
Maps with the News, Paperback (July 1999)
An assessment of the role of cartography in American journalism. The text traces the use of maps in American news reporting from the 18th century to the 1980s, and explores why and how journalistic maps have achieved such importance.
Cartographies of Danger, Paperback (September 1997)» View all books by Mark S. Monmonier
Explains how maps can tell where to anticipate certain hazards, but also how maps can be misleading. The text considers that although it is important to predict and prepare for catastrophic natural hazards, more subtle and persistent phenomena such as pollution and crime also pose serious dangers.
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Author Biography - Mark S. Monmonier
Mark Monmonier is Distinguished Professor of Geography at Syracuse University's Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs and author of "How to Lie with Maps, Cartographies of Danger, Air Apparent," and "Spying with Maps," the winner of the 2002 Globe Book Award for Public Understanding of Geography, all published by the University of Chicago Press.
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