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How to Lie with Maps (2nd Edition) Paperback – May 1, 1996

ISBN-13: 978-0226534213 ISBN-10: 0226534219 Edition: 2nd

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 207 pages
  • Publisher: University Of Chicago Press; 2nd edition (May 1, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0226534219
  • ISBN-13: 978-0226534213
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #31,529 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Monmonier (geography, Syracuse Univ.) reveals how and why maps "lie." He explains the methods cartographers must use to distort reality in representing a complex, three-dimensional world on a flat sheet or screen, and how they exclude information and geographic features in order to create a readable and understandable map. In addition to explaining the "white lies" told by every competent mapmaker and the errors caused by "cartographic carelessness," Monmonier explores the use of maps for advertising and propaganda, and the deliberate errors employed to confuse potential enemies or to trap copiers. Valuable for both students of cartography or geography and interested laypersons, this is recommended for academic and larger public libraries.
- Peter B. Kutner, Univ. of Oklahoma, Norman
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Mark Monmonier is distinguished professor of geography at Syracuse University’s Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs.

Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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I have enjoyed, for once, reading a textbook.
This book walks you through the most common cartographic deceptions, and provides some excellent color guides.
I found these parts to be a bit difficult to get through.
Thomas Paul

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

30 of 31 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 9, 2000
Format: Paperback
Although this book teaches how to manipulate maps in order to mislead an audience, it is more valuable as a reference to avoid having others do the same to you. Also of interest is the fact that mistakes are often responsible for the lie. This is a good buy for those who are involved with the creation of GIS maps (and those who view them!).
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56 of 64 people found the following review helpful By Thomas Paul VINE VOICE on August 23, 2004
Format: Paperback
Any book that calls itself, "How to Lie with..." is simply begging for a reviewer to compare it to, "How to Lie with Statistics." The latter is a classic that is fun and educational. Unfortunately, this book falls short of deserving the title but it is still an interesting read. One of the main problems is that rather than being a guide to help avoid being fooled by maps, the author uses the book as an introduction to the science of cartography. It seems that a large portion of the book is aimed towards the prospective mapmaker. I found these parts to be a bit difficult to get through. Also, there are very few real life examples in the book. I would have liked to see more examples from newspapers or magazines in place of the samples the author provides. Some of the few real life examples are from Nazi Germany and the USSR and seem very dated.

That was the bad side but there are many good points to the book. The chapter on development maps was very interesting (although the attempts at humor are wasted) and should be required reading for anyone who is serving on a zoning board. Also, the discussion of choropleth maps is excellent and the reader will come away with a clear understanding of how these maps can be abused either deliberately or accidentally by the cartographer. The author shows examples of very different choropleth maps using the same data that will make you skeptical of anyone who uses choropleth maps to prove a point.

Although parts of the book drag, the book is short at 150 pages so it is a relatively quick read. I wouldn't say that it is required reading, but it will help you maintain a healthy skepticism about maps that you might encounter.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Andrew L. Kora on July 8, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I am not a professional cartographer by any means. I'm a designer/illustrator. Recently, I've received several assignments working on way finding maps for city tourism departments, university campuses, and zoos. Those sorts of maps are more about helping people orient themselves and find their way around a place on foot. So I picked up this book to do a little more research on the subject since the sorts of maps I create definitely do a lot of "lying" to get people around.

It's a good book, but broader than the scope of my work. The parts of the book that did pertain to my project didn't really shed any new light on the subject matter. It was mostly just common sense. I actually found a lot of the subject matter to be obvious, especially about use of shapes, lines, and colors. Of course, I'm trained as a graphic artist, so that could be why it was basic to me. Still, many of the chapters I read through simply because I don't like to skip around and perhaps miss something that's referred to in later chapters. So, the information isn't bad, it just wasn't quite as deep as I hoped.

The book might be a great primer for a person getting into a cartography career. It's probably even better for a decision maker in a position of authority (like a town planning committee) who is has a hard time thinking of things in spatial terms and is more analytical, literal (like accountants?). It wold help them understand the decisions and ideas being presented to them by designers/cartographers/illustrators.

So overall it's a well written book, but for those who are familiar with map making and/or those trained in use of color theory and graphic communication it's a little basic. Perhaps it's greatest strength would be for a map maker to support the decisions he makes with some published research. Especially when his own explanation won't do while presenting an idea to a client for approval.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By wiredweird HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on January 11, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Maps are one of hte commonest kind of information graphic. They occur in many forms, in many contexts, and commonly carry more data per square inch than just about any other kind of diagram. Also, a map carries some sense of authority and may even inspire a kind of loyalty - surely you know at least one map fanatic? That carrying capacity and authority can be used badly as easily as used well: incompetently, to make some point at the expense of others, or intentionally to misdirect.

The book's first section reminds us that every map contains mis- or missing information - if only because the world is round and the map is flat. Later, Mommonier gives examples of incompetence showing how information, especially in color, can be illegible.

He also shows how maps can affect political decisions as close as your own back yard, the maps used to make land planning and zoning decisions. He works up from town hall politics to the international scale, including some remarkable Cold War artifacts. He mentions esthetics only briefly, mostly to point out how the decision to make a map look nice can corrupt its data content. This is a loss since esthetics don't inherently conflict with the message, but good illustrators already know how to create visual appeal and bad ones should not be encouraged.

This is a useful addition for anyone who creates or uses information in picture form. It's not as broad as other books, but adds depth to discussions about one particular kind of information graphic. The wide ranging and well categorized bibliography is just an extra.

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