From Scientific American
"Any attempt to show how map projections work must include their rhetorical role, which involves goals markedly different from traditional cartographic tasks like describing boundaries, exploring patterns, and getting around. This rhetorical prowess, rooted as much in the map's symbols and generalizations as in its projection, makes the map vulnerable to diverse ideological interpretations. Thus the Mercator map can be viewed as an icon of Western imperialism while the [Arno] Peters map can connote fairness and support for Third World concerns." Monmonier, professor of geography at Syracuse University's Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, builds on this foundation a rewarding study of mapmaking and the uses of maps. His prime example of the rhetorical role of maps is the "map war" of 30 years ago over whether the familiar Mercator projection, with its inescapable distortion of the size of countries, is Eurocentric and diminishes the significance of Third World nations. "Although a potential for bias [in maps] exists," Monmonier writes, "broad assumptions of conscious or subliminal malevolence trivialize commonsense notions of bias and agenda. In my experience, the bias of ignorance, the bias of sloppiness, and the bias of tradition, individually or collectively, are far more prevalent than the bias of political ideology."
Editors of Scientific American (209)
"In Rhumb Lines and Map Wars, Mark Monmonier shows that controversies that have ignited as soon as different projections--and there have been many--emerge, each attempting to make a flat map of a ball's surface more like reality. Some of these show the globe distorted into the shapes of lampshades, inverted triangles, hearts, half-eaten doughnuts and rounded zigzags, as weird as dreams. Politics, nationalism and international prestige caused these wars. Monmonier thinks that such arguments overrate the power of maps. He writes well and simply."
(Roy Herbert New Scientist
"A rewarding study of mapmaking and the uses of maps."
"[Monmonier] offers yet another first-rate contribution to the literature on cartography. . . . An excellent book that deserves widespread attention."
(Jeremy Black H-Net
"Monmonier succinctly describes the methods developed over 400 years to delineate a round earth on a flat piece of paper, ever since Mercator's portrayal was a boon to 16th-century sailors. Clear diagrams show every stage of man's attempts to solve this problem, why it was posed, and how theorists tried to make it more suitable, as means of travel changed. Thus, a projection suited to a sailor seeking to discover what lay across the Atlantic Ocean was unserviceable for airline pilots choosing the shortest route over the North Pole."
(Susan Gote Times Higher Education Supplement
"This little book exhibits a rare . . . combination of elements: scholarship, readability, and usefulness. . . . Although not a textbook on map projection, the book is a handy introduction to the subject and contains as much information as the nonspecialist is likely to need."
(Richard Ring Fine Books and Collections
“This very readable book should be studied by anyone interested in correcting much public ignorance about the importance of map projections and their manipulation (sometimes deliberately) to distort our perception of the world. . . . A major contribution to cartography.”
(Terry Birtles Journal of Spatial Science
"Rhumb Lines and Map Wars is both a primer in the history and geometry of map projections and a complaint against those who tread Mercator under foot. . . . Monmonier has much to say about the 'power of maps,' and covers a great deal of interesting ground, from the spider's web of medieval portolan charts to the mathematical armature of satellite cartography."
(D. Graham Burnett London Review of Books
"The book works at several levels and is successful in each. . . . It is engagingly written and well illustrated, as one would expect from Monmonier, arguably the world's foremost popular map historian. And it is an appeal for us all to be more aware of the importance of different map projections, their flexibility and their limitations."
(Charles W.J. Withers History
"Geographers and cartographers once again owe Mark Monmonier their thanks....This insightful and interesting book further adds to Monmonier’s reputation as an author capable of enlightening students, technicians, professionals, and anyone who enjoys maps and mapping."
(Dennis Fitzsimons, Professional Geographer
"This book makes a major contribution to the debate through its presentation of an intellectual and social history of the Mercator projection. . . . An excellent book, interesting and accessible to both cartographic professionals and the educated general public."
(Brooks C. Pearson Geographical Review
"There is a story to be told here, and Mark Monmonier is certainly the person to tell it. He does so with gusto. . . . Rhumb Lines and Map Wars will be relished by a general audience."
(Rienk Vermu ISIS