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Cartography is both a science and an art; as such, it provides marvelous waypoints for changes in different cultures through history. But it can also be a weapon, or at least a potentially destructive undertaking. Anyone who doubts this need only trace the bitter history of the Balkans or of the entire continent of Africa back to what may have seemed some rational and innocuous boundaries sketched on paper. Some of the maps in this book had devastating consequences, such as the 1885 map of Africa that carved up the continent among the European colonial powers. Other maps are simply beautiful, such as the dot painting "Dreamtime" map of the Australian Aborigines or the Jainist cosmographical chart of the 15th century.
Others are mysterious, like the rock maps of Siberia, or scientifically outstanding for various reasons, like Captain Cook's map of New Zealand or Landsat mapping from space. Some are fun, like the map of Middle Earth in Lord of the Rings, the most printed map of a non-existent place ever! What all the maps chosen have is their own fascinating story: not just the escape maps and military maps. The cartographic achievement of Lewis and Clark in mapping the West is one of the great adventures, as is the British mapping of all India - which took 60 years. While approachable as a series of amazing short stories, the maps are organized to explain the development of cartography and illuminate the historical, scientific, and sometimes political background.
Martin Marix Evans has over twenty titles in print and has spent a lifetime examining military maps. He included trench maps in full color in his Battles of the Somme and contributed "Maps and Decisions: Buller South and North of the Tugela, 1899-1900" to Fields of Battle (2002). Susan Kennedy is an author and editor who specializes in the history of art and has been involved in both capacities in the creation of several cartographic titles.