Cartography: The Ideal and Its History

University of Chicago Press, 2019.
ISBN 978-0-226-60554-8 cloth; 978-0-226-60568-5 paper; 978-0-226-60571-5 e-book.
Order via the link at right


Jerry Brotton, “Into Uncharted Territory,” Times Higher Education (18 July 2019): 44–45. (paywall)

“Book of the week: Jerry Brotton is enthralled by a book that seeks to overturn just about everything we think we know about maps.”

The press has its own money quote, already added to the sales blurb (see the link at right), but mine is:

“He has convincingly overturned the presumptions of an entire discipline and those who both practice and study it, all of whom will need to assimilate and respond to this work in order to understand the future of mapping and cartography as a concept. It deserves to generate much debate and undoubted controversy, but I am sure that Edney will be up for the conversation (especially since, under his forensic eye, nearly all of us within the field come in for censure at some point!).”

Doug Specht, Bulletin of the Society of Cartographers 53 (2019): forthcoming. A preprint is available, and the review was reprinted on a communication studies blog hosted by the University of Westminster.

“And thus, we must revisit these preconceptions and understand the Ideal of Cartography in order to reveal the myriad ways in which people produce, circulate and consume maps.

This is then quite the affront for those of us who have long worked with maps, and one that is initially rather jarring for the reader. However, persisting through the provocative opening paragraphs reveals that Edney has no intention of letting the reader deal with this alone. His thoughts flow effortlessly across the page, anecdotes and first-person quips draw the reader along with him. And while he repeatedly reminds the reader that we have been all been misled and duped by the Ideal, he still makes us want to understand why.”

Update 14 Sep 2019: It seems that the Society of Cartographers dissolved itself as of 11–12 September, 2019, so I have no idea if Mr. Specht’s review will actually be printed.

Jonathan Crowe, short review at The Map Room (1 October 2019).