Author: Stephen J. Hornsby
Title: Picturing America : The Golden Age of Pictorial Maps
Publication Info: Chicago ; London : The University of Chicago Press, in association with the Library of Congress, 2017.
I’ve always loved those little maps you get for free at tourist destinations that have lots of little comical people doing touristy things on plan clearly not drawn to scale. In fact, when I was a teenager I had two pictorial map posters, one of Greenwich, CT (the town next to my own where I attended high school) and one of Williamsburg, VA (where we went on lots of vacations before eventually moving there). Stephen Hornsby breaks down the history of pictorial maps in this book which he says peaked in the United States from the 1920s to the 1960s. Pictorial maps were used for education, for civic and industrial promotion campaigns, and to help people on the homefront keep up with the battles of World War II among other things. Although this is a richly-illustrated coffee table book, my one complaint is that the images were often still too small to see the details. Nevertheless this is a fun and interesting book about an esoteric topic of my interest.
Author: Alastair Bonnett
Title: Unruly Places: Lost Spaces, Secret Cities, and Other Inscrutable Geographies
Narrator: Derek Perkins
Publication Info: Tantor Media, 2014
Dr. Bonnet collects a compendium of curiosities in geography, places in the world at the borders, no-mans lands, enclaves, dead cities, floating islands, and ephemeral places.
- Sandy Island, marked on maps in the Indian Ocean for over a century despite the fact that it never existed.
- The historic Old Mecca, destroyed to make way for amenities for pilgrims.
- Alan Sonfist’s artistic creation of pre-colonial plantings in New York called Time Landscape.
- The lost Aral Sea, now the Aralqum Desert.
- Kijong-dong , the North Korean “Peace Village” along the DMZ with South Korea.
- Pripyat, the city abandoned due to the Cherynobyl disaster.
- The intriguingly named Archaeological Park of Sicilian Incompletion in Giarre.
- The interlocking Dutch and Belgian enclaves of Baarle-Nassau and Baarle-Hertog .
- The micronation of Sealand.
- Spray ice islands used for petroleum exploration in the Arctic
- The RV park in the LAX parking lot which serves as the permanent home for many air carrier personnel.
- Nowhere, the Burning Man-style art event in northeast Spain
Derek Perkins voice lends a curmudgeonly world explorer gruffness to the narration. A fun book and informative.
Recommended books: Micronations: The Lonely Planet Guide to Self-Proclaimed Nations by John Ryan, Outside Lies Magic: Regaining History and Awareness in Everyday Places by John R. Stilgoe, and Lights Out for the Territory: 9 Excursions in the Secret History of London by Iain Sinclair
Author: Ken Jennings
Title: Maphead : charting the wide, weird world of geography
Publication Info: New York : Scribner, c2011.
Ken Jennings is a person I like merely because he became a celebrity by being intelligent. Now I know he shares a common passion for maps. As a child I used to lay out maps and atlases and study them for hours and have never lost the love of looking at maps, learning from them, or appreciating their decorative aspects. Jennings connects with people like myself who love maps and to a greater extent geography through a series of essays that cover topics including geocaching, highpointing, travelers clubs, road atlas rallying, map collecting and antique sales, programming Google Earth, GPS, the National Geographic Bee, as well as maps in fiction and metaphorical maps. Jennings’ observations are illuminating and entertaining and the entire book is a delight to read.