Mark Monmonier


"a milestone in the historical study of twentieth-century cartography” – Journal of Historical Geography
“His irrepressible wit shines . . .” – Imago Mundi
"unexpectedly engrossing . . . overcomes all Weather Channel wonkery as a charmingly executed slice of Americana." – Publishers Weekly
"Well written, engaging, mildly provocative, quirky at times.” – H-Net Reviews in the Humanities & Social Sciences
"An informative and entertaining read on climate change via the science of cartography." – Weatherwise
"Engaging . . . a trove of giggle-inducing lore." – Publishers Weekly
"A rewarding study of mapmaking and the uses of maps" – Scientific American
"Engaging, even-handed introduction to the dark side of mapping technology" – Physical Science Digest
"An artful and a funny book, which like any good map packs plenty in a little space." – Scientific American
"Clever title, rewarding book." – Scientific American
How maps help people avoid and officials plan for disasters.
Scholarly Screeds
Published on (11 January 2016) and (13 January 2016), DOI: 10.13140/RG.2.1.3332.7126.
Published on and, 17 January 2016, DOI: 10.13140/RG.2.1.1235.5605.
Glimpse: the art + science of seeing, no. 8 (Autumn 2011): 14-21.
Weiner Schriften zur Geographie und Kartographie [Institut für Geographie und Regionalforschung der Universität Wien], 2004

"Borrowed Borders: Cartographic Leverage from Empires to Zip Codes"

Glimpse: the art + science of seeing, no. 8 (Autumn 2011): 14-21.

Much of the map’s leverage—a far better physical science analogy than power—stems from boundary lines that restrict where people can go or what they can do. Whoever draws the lines exerts enormous leverage insofar as delineating a boundary is far easier than erecting a fence or wall. And because maps work so well as navigation tools, they’ve earned a reputation for truthfulness and authority that makes us respect their lines, or at least feel a mite anxious when we consciously ignore them in a burst of exuberance, entitlement or outright civil disobedience. Another form of cartographic leverage occurs when boundaries devised for one purpose are adopted for something else—the mapmaker avoids the tedious tasks of stating goals and delineating lines that reflect the new goals, and the borrowed borders leverage the familiarity and prestige of the lines adopted.