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.
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"Engaging....A trove of giggle-inducing lore." - Publishers Weekly "[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." - Economist "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 "An entertaining and enlightening excursion." - Michael Kenney, Boston Globe "Naming places has always been a political as well as a personal act, but Mark Monmonier's boyishly infectious history of...toponyms maps out the sexism, racism, and imperialism through which we have come to know our landscapes....Monmonier's book shows that maps are no more neutral than any other record of human construction." - Simon Reid-Henry, Times Literary Supplement"