Mark Monmonier


My Current Projects
Continues the Patents Project by examining the life and impact of the inventor of the Clock System map and rural directory.
“What if I told you that behind every great map is a network and behind every great network is a map?”
Fully updated for the digital age, which offers new opportunities for cartographic mischief, deception, and propaganda
“Thoroughly researched, well written, and richly illustrated with original patent drawings.” – Judith Tyner
“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.
Encyclopedia Entry
Article in The International Encyclopedia of Geography: People, the Earth, Environment, and Technology (2017).
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

Now in paperback!

University of Chicago Press, 2002.

Critics' Comments

“The author of many excellent books on cartography, Monmonier explores the ramifications of studding the physical and digital landscapes with tracking equipment . . . We, whose compromised privacy provides less joy, can at least be glad of Monmonier’s incisive account of ‘dataveillance’ and its implications for civil liberties.” -- Booklist

“In this short, clever book . . . Monmonier is refreshingly straightforward about his own research and life . . . For starters, he provides his address.” -- New Scientist

“Despite apprehension about surveillance technology, Spying with Maps is not crammed with dire warnings about eyes in the sky and invasive tracking. Monmonier’s approach encompasses both skepticism and the acknowledgement that geospatial technology brings with it unprecedented benefits to governments, institutions, and individuals, especially in an era of asymmetric warfare and bioterrorism. . . . With wit and clarity, Monmonier offers readers an engaging, even-handed introduction to the dark side of the mapping technology.” -- Physical Science Digest

“Monmonier isn’t afraid to voice his opinions on what he feels are justified or unjustified uses of tracking technologies, which makes Spying with Maps a welcome relief from the reams of tortured academic prose where the writer vainly attempts to establish a ‘professional distance’ from a topic and avoids saying anything of consequence in a language non-academics can read without being driven to immediate slumber.” – Technology and Society Book Reviews

“I found this to be a truly fascinating and thought-provoking book. I was aware that such things could be done but it was interesting to learn just how detailed certain applications are.” -- M2 Best Books (Gale Group e-journal)

“Monmonier explains cogently how global positioning systems (GPS), remote sensing . . . can track the whereabouts of individuals. . . . He asks whether applications will be limited to law enforcement or extend to direct marketing and concludes that the concept of “locational privacy” may take on increasing importance.” -- Privacy Journal

“Monmonier carefully weaves a chapter on satellite and other observation of farms into privacy issues, involving Supreme Court decisions on the use of thermal imaging to infer the presence of illegal drug crops in houses. This is elegantly and interestingly done. . . . If you want an awareness-raising book or if you want a book for a friend outside the GI field, then I commend it to you; you could not do better than this yourself.” -- International Journal of Geographical Information Science

“[Monmonier] discusses the integration of spatial and personal data, that his message of protecting personal privacy takes form. He conveys this message by discussing the issues surrounding the technologies and leaving readers to question these issue for themselves. For this reason, I love the book. It not only makes readers think critically about issues surrounding personal privacy, it also opens their eyes to what personal data may be collected about them, where these data may end up, who may be using them, and for what purposes.” -- Cartographica

“highly relevant as both as layman’s guide and a fundamental reference for the media and any professional engaged in preparing and using cartographic data” -- Cartography

Spying with Maps is a reference volume to be enjoyed equally at the scholarly desktop or at home in front of the fire, with a glass of good red wine. . . . [Monmonier’s] writing style maintains accessibility for a general readership without sacrificing academic interest.” -- Cartographic Perspectives

“Mark Monmonier’s Spying with Maps delivers a provocative and engaging commentary on the use and misuse of geographical tools in society’s attempts to explain, monitor, represent and resolve enviornmental and social concerns.” -- Cultural Geographies
Goals and Viewpoint

In Spying with Maps, I look at the increased use of geographic data, satellite imagery, and location tracking across a wide range of fields such as military intelligence, law enforcement, market research, and traffic engineering. Could these diverse forms of geographic monitoring lead to grave consequences for society? To assess this very real threat, I examine how geospatial technology works, what it can reveal, who uses it, and to what effect.

AAG Book Award (March 2004)

"This exemplary volume addresses a topic of high importance to the public, and represents a fundamental thread of geography - - that of geospatial representation and its societal implications. It reveals careful research and documentation and, crucially, it speaks in a very accessible language and style, not an easy task when advanced technologies are the subject at hand." -- Association of American Geographers Book Award for Public Understanding of Geography

Nice Blurbs (from the cover)

"With electronic spies in the sky, sensors under the streets, and geographic data banks everywhere, it takes Mark Monmonier's knowledge and insight to make sense of the new landscape of locational privacy. This is fascinating reading, indispensable to watchers and watched alike." --Edward Tenner, author of Why Things Bite Back and the Revenge of Unintended Consequences

"Mark Monmonier's latest book offers a cornucopian corpus of the latest cartographic techniques, analyzed with clarity, balance, and precision. Spying with Maps is a highly informative description of the diverse geographic information technologies that are revolutionizing our understanding of social and physical worlds and bringing solutions and problems previously restricted to utopian and dystopian imaginations. A most welcome contribution to the surveillance literature." --Gary T. Marx, author of Undercover: Police Surveillance in America

"Like Mark Monmonier's other books, Spying with Maps reflects exceptional scholarship, thoughtfulness, logic, and heart. His descriptions of the gadgetry associated with locational surveillance are clear and straightforward, and his expositions of the concerns associated with these evolving technologies are sometimes chilling, sometimes amusing, but always insightful. Spying with Maps makes a valuable contribution, and the accessibility of the book makes it even more important." --Nancy J. Obermeyer, coauthor of Managing Geographic Information Systems