Coast Lines: How Mapmakers Frame the World and Chart Environmental Change
In the next century, sea levels are predicted to rise at unprecedented rates, causing flooding around the world, from the islands of Malaysia and the canals of Venice to the coasts of Florida and California. These rising water levels pose serious challenges to all aspects of coastal existence—chiefly economic, residential, and environmental—as well as to the cartographic definition and mapping of coasts. It is this facet of coastal life that Mark Monmonier tackles in Coast Lines. Setting sail on a journey across shifting landscapes, cartographic technology, and climate change, Monmonier reveals that coastlines are as much a set of ideas, assumptions, and societal beliefs as they are solid black lines on maps.
Whether for sailing charts or property maps, Monmonier shows, coastlines challenge mapmakers to capture on paper a highly irregular land-water boundary perturbed by tides and storms and complicated by rocks, wrecks, and shoals. Coast Lines is peppered with captivating anecdotes about the frustrating effort to expunge fictitious islands from nautical charts, the tricky measurement of a coastline’s length, and the contentious notions of beachfront property and public access.
"Coastlines take on a completely different meaning after reading Mark Monmonier's five-century-long odyssey on the challenges and tricks that mapmakers have used to tell us where land and sea meet. . . . By using history and humor, Monmonier's fascination with mapping our coastlines is highly infectious." – Christopher Hallowell, author of Holding Back the Sea
"Monmonier is always quick to relate maps not just to technological affordance, but to social purpose, and here his concern is with environmental issues – with climate change and its consequences, with environmental hazards and with their impact on coasts. He gives an eloquent account of tidal phenomena and their variability along coastlines, bringing theory, case studies and anecdote into neat juxtaposition." – Rob Walker, Visual Studies
"Coast Lines is no exception to what we have come to expect from this exceptional scholar: well researched and referenced, captivating and engaging, with detailed stories set in a broader context of understanding, and a balance between scholarly thought and nontechnical writing for a public audience. His books are simply a delight to read." – Sally Hermansen, H-Net: Humanities and Social Sciences Online
". . . an enjoyable read . . . provides an excellent grounding for a full understanding of the complexity of all factors involved with the historical and current mapping and charting of the world's coastlines." – Charles A. Burroughs, Imago Mundi
"By highlighting a selection of topics, Coast Lines may succeed in its goal of getting the public to think about what maps show and why. However, Monmonier cautions that prospective navigators need to be aware that modern global-positioning technology enables them to know their latitudes and longitudes with greater precision than the scientists who made their maps in the first place." – Deborah Jean Warner, Nature
". . . provides an excellent overview of coastal mapping . . . yet another excellent contribution [from Monmonier], and one that fits well within the theme of technology and culture." – Klaus J. Meyer-Arendt, Technology and Culture
"Monmonier has taken the most assumed and invisble part of a map and made it jump from the page as a multifaceted and complex feature of interest and importance to all." – Keith Clarke, author of Getting Started with GIS
". . . intelligent, interesting, and thought-provoking." – Robert Hordon, The Professional Geographer
". . . charmingly and engagingly written book . . . thought-provoking . . . written in a very readable style and should be of wide appeal, irrespective of one's degree of technical expertise or familiarity with maps." – Colin V. Murray-Wallace, The Globe: Journal of the Australian Map Circle
". . . delivers information in a knowledgeable and entertaining manner."
". . . relates fascinating information regarding the history of coastline cartography and the (sometimes calamitous) manner in which it has been used." – Randy Cerveny, Weatherwise
". . . an interesting commentary, in nontechnical language, on how mapmakers represent the changing nature of nautical coastlines." – Library Journal