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In contrast with some other books on GIS applications (e.g., 'Transportation GIS: Includes 12 Case Studies' also available at Amazon), this one illustrates how GIS combined with other fields of knowledge can really be powerful. It does this by applying GIS techniques to real data, and by providing the kind of output that only GIS can give. It doesn't waste space telling you where to click, it doesn't have any screenshots. It does tell you the hardware and software used, but only in a paragraph at the end of each chapter. The main focus is on the information being studiee, and the knowledge and understanding that came from analysing in a location-aware manner.
There's a case study of immigration patterns in Manhattan in the twentieth century, showing how they varied not only through space, but also through time. You can literally see (in the maps developed by the authors) how immigrants self-segregated into different ethnic neighbourhoods, and how the nature of those neighbourhoods evolved over time. You can also see how the construction of the rail/subway system acted as a pressure-release valve on the population of Manhattan, allowing people to move out to the other boroughs, with corresponding drop in the population density on the island.
There's an analysis of the Salem witch trials, in which not only are the locations of the accusers and accused shown in geographic relation to each other, but by overlaying other kinds of information, a strong case is made that the trials were possibly more the by-product of inter-family feuds in an era of social turmoil, than of mere hysteria among young girls.
There are several other studies, each one rich in data overlays, and interesting in its own way. I'm no historian, and quite new to GIS, but to my mind, this is exciting stuff! It's given me lots of ideas.
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