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From Squaw Tit to Whorehouse Meadow: How Maps Name, Claim, and Inflame Paperback – September 15, 2007

ISBN-13: 978-0226534664 ISBN-10: 0226534669

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 230 pages
  • Publisher: University Of Chicago Press (September 15, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0226534669
  • ISBN-13: 978-0226534664
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.3 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 1.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,475,782 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. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Review

"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"

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6 of 27 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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