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

University of Chicago Press, 1997.

Cartographies of Danger is one of two books examined in a master’s thesis by Renee Sichel Wagenseil (M.A. in Professional Communication, 2001, Clemson University). A student of science writing, Wagenseil titled her thesis “The Function of Ethos and Pathos in Popular Science Writing: A Rhetorical Analysis of Mark Monmonier and Oliver Sacks.“ Her observations include:

“. . . Using a framework of classical Aristotelian rhetoric, this thesis explores the writing of two successful author-scientists, cartographer Mark Monmonier and neurologist Oliver Sacks, in order to answer the question of how a scientist writing for public audiences communicates successfully. Monmonier’s method is to interject into otherwise highly technical discussions, comments that reduce math anxiety, anecdotes about his family, long asides to describe personalities, and vignettes that demystify authority and these appeals to pathos diffuse the public’s fear of science.” (abstract)

“Monmonier’s appeals to logos are an essential part of communicating his topic. As a scientist and science writer Monmonier knows that his audience expects and respects a strong logical argument, and thus grounds all his assertions with evidence. . . .” (p. 18)

“In Cartographies of Danger Monmonier takes on a subject that could easily put off a wary public. . . .” (p. 24)

“. . . Here the author connects with the reader through the shared emotion of fear. Monmonier is a real person, not a distant and elusive expert and he is as vulnerable to nature as the reader.” (p. 26)
“Monmonier also encourages his readers to see that those in authority don’t have all the answers . . .” (p. 33)

“. . . By showing science as a human endeavor, Monmonier establishes an emotional climate of belief and trust that eases the public’s frustration with the complex and contradictory nature of the discipline.” (35)

“. . . Monmonier provided a human context for risk analysis that allows a lay audience to appreciate both the science and the scientists involved.” (p. 54)

“Monmonier’s writing clearly serves to celebrate as well as illuminate the workings of science and scientists because he presents a view that is realistic, yet positive. . . .” (p. 60)

“It is important to note that Monmonier and Sacks, though privileged insiders they may be, share with their readers a stance towards the status quo that helps us overcome an uncritical acceptance of the monolith of science in it s many manifestations. Monmonier clearly questions the scientific perspective of many government agencies; Sack continually questions standard views of normalcy. . . .” (p. 60)

Kind words:

"an entertaining and enlightening account of natural hazards." --New Scientist

"Monmonier breathes life into the little known science of mapping, both natural and man-made hazards." --Washington Post Book World

"While the author champions the way maps can be used to determine hazardous areas, he also delves into the dangers of relying on them to do so." --Wired

"Maps are powerful tools . . . The author calls on cartographic techniques to show the (often misunderstood) complexities of environmental hazards in the U.S., giving rigorous response to the victim’s cry of 'Why me?'" --Scientific American

"a book of well-presented maps. Those maps presented the author with an immediate danger – namely, that by the third chapter, the readers would start skimming at high speed. Fortunately, thanks to Monmonier’s lucid and stimulating narrative, I never had such a reaction. . . . Part of why the book stays interesting is that, with the author’s subtle help, we realize that some maps that claim to delineate hazards could actually do more harm than good." --Technology Review

"A truly unique guide which defies categorization, but which holds broad appeal to students and consumers alike." --Midwest Book Review

"provides sound advice on using readily available information on hazard-zone maps . . . . Promotes sensible awareness of assumed risks." --Northeastern Naturalist