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From Squaw Tit to Whorehouse Meadow: How Maps Name, Claim, and Inflame Hardcover – May 15, 2006

ISBN-13: 978-0226534657 ISBN-10: 0226534650 Edition: First Edition

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 230 pages
  • Publisher: University Of Chicago Press; First Edition edition (May 15, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0226534650
  • ISBN-13: 978-0226534657
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.9 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 2.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,168,744 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

As the title of this slight but engaging treatise on the politics of place names indicates, a sufficiently detailed gazetteer offers plenty of material to rile up minorities, feminists and persons of refined sensibility. Geographer Monmonier (Spying with Maps) gets a lot of mileage out of typing provocative words into a U.S. Geological Survey database and picking through the resulting ethnic slurs, body parts and scatological imprecations. The Rocky Mountain and Pacific Coast states, with their ripe mining-camp history, offer up the most offensive place names, but even staid Newfoundland has a village named Dildo situated next to Spread Eagle Bay. The author delves into the efforts of the Federal Government's Board on Geographic Names to sanitize uncouth toponyms, a task that requires delicate attention to racial and cultural sensitivities, often complicated by cries of political correctness from citizens proud of their off-color local landmarks. He goes on to examine the politics of map names in conflict zones like Cyprus and Israel and ongoing scientific and international squabbles over naming features of Antarctica, the ocean floor and the Moon. Although general readers will find much of the procedural and bureaucratic details of official place-naming arcane, they will enjoy a trove of giggle-inducing lore. Photos.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review

"Engaging...a trove of giggle-inducing lore."
(Publishers Weekly 2006-02-20)

"Why did India block distribution of an updated version of Microsoft's Windows 95? Is it Mount McKinley or Mount Denali, Hawaii or Hawai'i? Monmonier (geography, Syracuse Univ.; Spying with Maps) answers these questions and more as he reveals in a nontechnical manner the impact of governmental policy and political correctness upon modern cartography. The reader is introduced to the agencies responsible for proposing and approving name changes and spellings, among them the U.S. Board of Geographic Names (BGN) and the United Nations Group of Experts on Geographical Names (UNGEGN). The first four chapters explore recent attempts to find acceptable replacements for place names, primarily in the United States, containing pejorative ethnic or risqué terms (as in the book's title). One chapter is devoted to the movement to restore indigenous forms and spellings (as in Mount Denali). The remainder of the book examines international disputes over Kashmir, the Sea of Japan, and the more ominous use of maps with nameschanged to "erase" the presence of displaced populations (e.g., the disappearance of Greek names for villages in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus and similarly of Palestinian village names on Israeli maps). An amusing, informative, and topical study of the contentious issue of place names, this is recommended for public and academic libraries."
(Library Journal 2006-04-01)

"An entertaining and enlightening excursion"
(Micheal Kenney Boston Globe 2006-05-30)

"[An] excellent book. . . .  [Mark Monmonier] is an able populariser of academic geography, and an expert guide to the bureaucratic, legal and political hierarchies that determine how places acquire, change and lose their names."
(The Economist 2006-06-15)

"Fascinating. . . . The book will interest anyone who has ever wondered how place names have come to be established by locals, and then come to endure on maps—at least until the advance of political correctness."

(Susan Gole Times Higher Education Supplement 2006-07-14)

"A funny book...What Monmonier provides is a running commentary on 'risqué toponyms' and the attempts to censor them by disapproving authorities – frequently protested or prevented by locals who’d learnt to love living in, for example, Intercourse, Pennsylvania, or Wee Wee Hill in Indiana."
(Phillip Adams The Australian 2006-08-12)

"Mark Monmonier's boyishly infectious history of (principally American) toponyms maps out the sexism, racism and imperialism through which we have come to know our landscapes.... Mark Monmonier's book shows that maps are no more neutral than any other record of human construction."
(Simon Reid-Henry Times Literary Supplement 2006-09-01)

"Monmonier's [book] will appeal to anyone who wants to know the genesis of place names and how controversial they can be...From Sqauw Tit to Whorehouse Meadow can be revisited and enjoyed for many years, and would there therefore make [an] excellent gift."
(Jeff Bursey Books in Canada 2007-03-01)

"Monmonier carefully simplifies the bureaucratic jargon and processes to craft a study both accessible and entertaining to scholars and the general public alike. His work is a compelling analysis of how cultures claim the spaces they occupy."
(Anthony J. Stanonis Canadian Journal of History)

"Compelling, thought provoking and always informative, Monmonier's From Squaw Tit . . . is an essential guide to toponymy's most dangerous regions."
(Robert Julyan Imago Mundi)

"A useful book that belongs on the shelf of anyone with an interest in cartographic issues. It is also a pleasant Sunday read, so long as you don't read it in church with its prominently-titled dust cover."
(Technology and Culture)

"A fine discussion not only of the art of making maps to modern times but of the power of names to, as [the author] says, show imperial claims and inflame minorities. . . . If place names interest you as showing human history and progress, or lack thereof, this must be on your reference shelf. The modest price enables you to give one or more as gifts to cartographic fans."
(Dee Longenbaugh IMCoS Journal)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Atari Fan on October 18, 2014
Format: Hardcover
This book may be a bit misunderstood. It describes how American history is being changed by changing names on US maps. (The Political Correctness Police has been claiming that certain geographic names are "offensive".) I also descibes how names are chosen and updated (or destroyed) in this country. I have read through part of this book and have not been disappointed. The author has clearly done his research and the text has been academic and informative. Nice work.
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7 of 29 people found the following review helpful By H. Marshall on February 4, 2007
Format: Hardcover
The best thing about this book seems to be its amusing title. It stars out very technical with `map terms' and things that would only interest serious cartographers- which I am not. It is very unfortunate, because this book could have been a really interesting narrative on American history and its conscience.

Though there are a few interesting examples of words used to describe places or geographic anomalies, the story is quite flat. One read-through of the back cover is all that is needed to know that once in the US there were many places that took the name of `nipple', `jap', `nigger' and `squaw' which he says is translated loosely to mean `whore' in many Indian languages. But the background information on these is lacking and the reasons for change are boring.

The author obviously knows his subject, and likes to use numbers and facts to support his case, but do we really need to know what number of `japs' were on a certain State Dept map? The answer is obviously no. It suffices to say that there were any at all, that is is unacceptable. The most interesting parts of the book were the sections discussing naming places in space (like on the moon) and on the sea floor. But this too was thin and just didn't tell much.

Much of the book is very repetitive and keeps brining up the few shocking examples of place names as mentioned above. But these spares examples quickly became tiresome and are not enough to base an entire book on! I was really looking forward to finding out new information, but was thoroughly bored and sorry I bought the book. This subject- as this author has attacked it- should have been a journal article and not a book.

This is all really unfortunate, because this book could have been so much more.
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From Squaw Tit to Whorehouse Meadow: How Maps Name, Claim, and Inflame
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