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Rethinking the Power of Maps 1st Edition

3 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1593853662
ISBN-10: 1593853661
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Editorial Reviews


"A captivating contribution to our understanding of maps and mapping practice. Wood offers a broad canvas of maps, map makers, and map users, linking traditional cartographies to exciting new experiments. He explores the ways in which, as maps make propositions about the world, they shape how we understand and live in it. This is a book you cannot put down and one that demands to be read in one or two sittings. It may be the best book on maps and mapping I have read."--John Pickles, Earl N. Phillips Distinguished Professor of International Studies and Chair, Department of Geography, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

"In an age when mapping is sexy again, Wood explains why it should matter to everyone, how maps came to be deployed by states, and how the authority of the image is now being used by many different voices. This is a passionate humanist argument for a critical approach to mapping, strongly academic but reassuringly accessible. Wood’s work always challenges; the style and panache of his scholarship carry the reader along and persuade us to listen to his original ideas. Mapping and counter-mapping are brought together for the first time. Researchers and students across the social sciences, and indeed from all disciplines, should read this book and take its lessons to heart!"--Chris Perkins, Senior Lecturer, Geography, University of Manchester, United Kingdom
"Rethinking the Power of Maps sharpens the argument of Wood's earlier work and focuses its attention on the construction of power. Every student of cartography should take notice."--Nicholas Chrisman, Department of Geomatic Sciences, Université Laval, Québec, Canada

"It is hard to dispute the quality of the writing and comprehensiveness of this volume. Readers will struggle to put the book down as they are led through Wood's wide-ranging critique of maps and mapmaking. It is sufficiently detailed for specialists, whilst remaining accessible to enthusiasts....Provides one of the most interesting histories of cartography and mapping that I have read....An important contribution; the arguments Wood presents are compelling, and made more so by his writing style. In an era when maps are ubiquitous, disposable, and can be created by more people than ever, Wood's insights are of increasing importance. I therefore highly recommend this book to anyone with a personal or professional interest in maps or mapmaking."--Environment and Planning B: Planning and Design
(Environment and Planning B: Planning and Design 2010-04-18)

"Besides chronicling [the] power and agency of maps with numerous historical and contemporary accounts, Rethinking the Power of Maps contains a brilliantly written, major case study, the mapping and counter-mapping and counter-over-mapping of Palestine."
( 2010-04-18)

About the Author


Denis Wood is a writer and artist living in Raleigh, North Carolina. From 1974 to 1996 he was Professor of Design in the School of Design at North Carolina State University in Raleigh. In 1992 he curated the award-winning Power of Maps exhibition for the Cooper-Hewitt National Museum of Design in New York (remounted at the Smithsonian in Washington, DC, in 1994), for which he wrote the bestselling The Power of Maps. Dr. Wood's other books include Five Billion Years of Global Change and Making Maps (coauthored with John Krygier).



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Product Details

  • Paperback: 335 pages
  • Publisher: The Guilford Press; 1 edition (April 16, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1593853661
  • ISBN-13: 978-1593853662
  • Product Dimensions: 10 x 7 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #136,328 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

23 of 26 people found the following review helpful By George F. Simons on August 26, 2010
Format: Paperback
Today they are scribbled on the back of business cards, delivered with admonitions by our GPS, or arrive on our desktop from Mappy or Google. Most of us, if we reflect on maps at all, are likely to think of them as aids for getting from one place to another without getting lost, happy not to risk roadway suicide refolding their bed sheet-sized ancestors to fit the glove compartment! In the newspaper or on the Internet maps may also seem to be easy ways to digest data, viz., the red/blue state maps used to explain the 2008 US elections or tracking the spread of influenza. However, Denis Wood's sequel to The Power of Maps, takes us far, far deeper into the substratum of how we come to have and use these tools. It examines the assumptions we make about them and their import for both local and global communities.

Wood subjects what we call "a map" to a strict historical scrutiny. At least in the West, maps are with few exceptions a product of the age of nation building. To quote the author, "The things we recognize as maps gained currency only in the last 400 years or so and within this period only in relatively stable states with entrenched, centralized bureaucracies and well-established academies." In truth, far from being passive reflections of geography, maps help construct the state as we know it.

How does this work? Drawing boundaries and naming places are ways of affirming the existence of a state and its reach. The resulting maps, then, both affirm and are affirmed by the authority of the state. The existence of the map offered a sense of identity to both the population within and a claim of proprietorship against those without. Maps are used to tell us that "things are," and that they are "there.
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By Wild Sunflower on July 10, 2014
Format: Paperback
We take maps for granted, but this book explains how maps can misinform as well as inform. In fact, the very nature of a map has to include some misinformation. It requires an informed and ethical person to present as honest a map as possible and not allow their bias to control its production.
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Maps are my thing and I always appreciate an in-depth book on the subject. However, in the case of this book, I felt that I couldn't get a clear focus on the main points the author wished to make. Maybe it's just me, be I was left feeling confused.
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