Lake Effect: Tales of Large Lakes, Arctic Winds, and Recurrent Snows
Syracuse University Press, 2012.
Just published: Lake Effect: Tales of Large Lakes, Arctic Winds, and Recurrent Snows explores the phenomenon of lake-effect snow and its import in seven engaging, concisely titled chapters: Recipe, Discovery, Prediction, Impact, Records, Change, and Place. Released in late September by Syracuse University Press, the book revisits atmospheric cartography, a theme I had examined a decade ago in Air Apparent: How Meteorologists Learned to Map, Predict, and Dramatize Weather. Written for a laic audience, the new book looks at lake-effect snow through multiple lenses: meteorological, historical, and societal as well as cartographic.
I was interviewed by Syracuse Post-Standard writer William LaRue, who covers the local book scene. The story ran in the Sunday, September 16 edition, a day after the Press’s official release date. Though a nice piece, it was marred by an accompanying photo in which I looked as if my glass eye were about to fall out. (No, I don’t have a glass eye, but apparently I can fake it by trying very hard not to blink.) Eleven weeks later the Post-Standard ran my own op-ed, headlined “Syracuse University geographer urges us to celebrate Central New York's seasons,” in the Opinion section for Sunday, December 2, with a quite decent headshot taken by SU’s official photographer.
In November, with the snow season approaching (at least in a normal year), I had a TV appearance on 9WSYR’s morning “Bridge Street” program (Friday, 11/2), and seven book signings: at Barnes & Noble in DeWitt, NY (Thursday, 11/1), the DeWitt Community Library (Monday, 11/12), River’s End Bookstore in Oswego, NY (Thursday, 11/15), RiverRead Books in Binghamton (Friday, 11/16), Creekside Books & Coffee in Skaneateles, NY (Monday, 11/19), Barnes & Noble in Pittsford, NY (Tuesday, 11/27), and the Syracuse University Bookstore (Wednesday, 11/28).
Lake Effect is selling well. It's a good read for anyone interested in our unique weather, and it makes a great gift for friends and relatives who live a warmer climate and think Central New York's weather is brutal. As I wrote in my op-ed, our seasonality is delightful and lake-effect snow is more a resource than a burden.
No Dig, No Fly, No Go: How Maps Restrict and Control
University of Chicago Press, 2010.
Some maps help us find our way; others restrict where we go and what we do. Rooted in ancient Egypt’s need to reestablish property boundaries following the annual retreat of the Nile’s floodwaters, restrictive cartography saw a resurgence in twentieth-century North America as governments at many levels sought to regulate activities as diverse as excavating, fishing, hiking, building a house, opening a store, locating a chemical plant, flying a plane, or painting your house anything but regulation white with black shutters. Told with insightful examples that include other eras and regions, the story of the restrictive map leads in many directions. Restrictive maps have been indispensable in settling the American West, claiming slices of Antarctica, protecting fragile ocean fisheries, and keeping sex offenders away from playgrounds. But during one of the blackest moments in American history, cartographic exclusion orders helped send thousands of Japanese Americans to remote detention camps.
Coast Lines: How Mapmakers Frame the World and Chart Environmental Change
University of Chicago Press, 2008.
Combing maritime history and the history of technology, Coast Lines charts the historical progression from offshore sketches to satellite images and explores the societal impact of coastal cartography on everything from global warming to homeland security. Returning to the form of his celebrated Air Apparent, Monmonier ably renders the topic of coastal cartography accessible to both general readers and historians of science, technology, and maritime studies. In the post-Katrina era, when the map of entire regions can be redrawn by a single natural event, the issues he raises are more important than ever.
From Squaw Tit to Whorehouse Meadow: How Maps Name, Claim, and Inflame
University of Chicago Press, 2006.
From Squaw Tit to Whorehouse Meadow probes a little-known chapter in American cartographic history: the intersecting efforts to computerize mapmaking, standardize geographic names, and respond to public disgust over racially and ethnically charged feature names added to the national map in earlier, less sensitive times. A diverse selection of naming controversies, within and outside the United States, provides a foundation for examining the role of maps and geographic databases in revealing offensive toponyms and the opportunities for public participation in authoring, reviewing, and revising cartographic content.
Rhumb Lines and Map Wars: A Social History of the Mercator Projection
University of Chicago Press, 2004.
Mariners were the biggest beneficiaries of the Mercator projection, even though they took more than a century to appreciate the projection’s prowess in converting a clear-cut sailing route with a constant bearing—navigators call this a rhumb line—into a straight line. The projection’s popularity among nineteenth century sailors led to its overuse, often in inappropriate ways, for wall maps, world atlases, and geopolitical propaganda. Although valuable for navigation and comparatively effective in portraying shape and angles, the Mercator map infamously inflates area in poleward regions. Its misuse declined markedly by the late 1940s, but three decades later it became the basis of the ‘map wars’ in which disciples of German historian Arno Peters traded barbs with cartographic scholars and professional mapmakers who resented the challenge to their accomplishments and integrity.
Spying with Maps: Surveillance Technologies and the Future of Privacy
University of Chicago Press, 2002.
Widely available in electronic and paper formats, maps offer revealing insights into our movements and activities, even our likes and dislikes. 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.
How to Lie with Maps
University of Chicago Press, 1996.
Originally published to wide acclaim, this lively, cleverly illustrated essay on the use and abuse of maps teaches us how to evaluate maps critically and promotes a healthy skepticism about these easy-to-manipulate models of reality. I show that, despite their immense value, maps lie. In fact, they must.
To show how maps distort, I introduce basic principles of mapmaking, offer entertaining examples of the misuse of maps in situations from zoning disputes to census reports, and cover all the typical kinds of distortions from deliberate oversimplifications to the misleading use of color.
The second edition is updated with the addition of two new chapters, 10 color plates, and a new foreword by renowned geographer H. J. de Blij. One new chapter examines the role of national interest and cultural values in national mapping organizations, including the United States Geological Survey, while the other explores the new breed of multimedia, computer-based maps.
Air Apparent: How Meteorologists Learned to Map, Predict, and Dramatize Weather
University of Chicago Press, 1999.
Weather maps have made our atmosphere visible, understandable, and at least moderately predictable. In Air Apparent I trace debates among scientists eager to unravel the enigma of storms and global change, explain strategies for mapping the upper atmosphere and forecasting disaster, and discuss efforts to detect and control air pollution. Fascinating in its scope and detail, Air Apparent makes us take a second look at the weather map, an image that has been, and continues to be, central to our daily lives.
Glimpse: the art + science of seeing, no. 8 (Autumn 2011): 14-21.
"Practical and Emblematic Roles of the American Polyconic Projection"
Weiner Schriften zur Geographie und Kartographie [Institut für Geographie und Regionalforschung der Universität Wien], Band 16 [Festschrift for Ingrid Kretschmer], 2004, pp. 93-99.
"Aerial Photography at the Agricultural Adjustment Administration: Acreage Controls, Conservation Benefits, and Overhead Surveillance in the 1930s"
Photogrammetric Engineering and Remote Sensing, vol. 68, no. 11 (December 2002), pp. 1257-61.
Bushmanders and Bullwinkles: How Politicians Manipulate Electronic Maps and Census Data to Win Elections
University of Chicago Press, 2001.
Written from the perspective of a cartographer rather than a political scientist, Bushmanders and Bullwinkles examines the political tales maps tell when votes and power are at stake. I show how redistricting committees carve out favorable election districts for themselves and their allies; how disgruntled politicians use shape to challenge alleged racial gerrymanders; and how geographic information systems can make reapportionment a controversial process with outrageous products. I also explore controversies over the proper roles of natural boundaries, media maps, census enumeration, and ethnic identity. Raising important questions about Supreme Court decisions in regulating redistricting, I ask whether the focus on form rather than function may be little more than a distraction from larger issues like election reform.
Cartographies of Danger: Mapping Hazards in America
University of Chicago Press, 1997.
No place is perfectly safe, but some places are more dangerous than others. Whether we live on a floodplain or in "Tornado Alley," near a nuclear facility or in a neighborhood poorly lit at night, we all co-exist uneasily with natural and man-made hazards. As I show in this entertaining and immensely informative book, maps can tell us a lot about where we can anticipate certain hazards, but they can also be dangerously misleading.
Important as it is to predict and prepare for catastrophic natural hazards, more subtle and persistent phenomena such as pollution and crime also pose serious dangers that we have to cope with on a daily basis. Hazard-zone maps highlight these more insidious hazards and raise awareness about them among planners, local officials, and the public.