Book Review: Strange Maps

Strange Maps: An Atlas Of Cartographic Curiosities, by Frank Jacobs

This book lives up to its name, containing dozens of unusual maps of a wide variety of types divided into various thematic chapters. The book itself is the textual version of a blog devoted to strange maps, and to the book’s credit, it includes a lot of very humorous maps with a lot of witty commentary. To give some idea of the scope of this book, it includes a map of the world’s only Esperanto state (a neutral area between Belgium and Germany before WWI) as well as a map showing the area codes where Ludacris claims to have hoes. Other maps, like the map of the failed state of Sequoyah, and various maps showing the aims of nations after WWI and WWII, are more political in nature. But all of the maps are fairly strange.

The maps are divided into the following chapters: cartographic misconceptions (where someone clearly got the details wrong), literary creations (maps based on books), artography (artistic renditions without any pretensions to scale or accuracy), zoomorphic maps (animals in maps), political parody, propaganda maps, obscure but real political proposals (like a 38 state United States), ephemeral states (nations that did not last), strange borders (like the barbeque regions of South Carolina or Delaware’s curved northern border), exclaves and enclaves (areas where national territory is separated for some odd reason), a matter of perspective (maps with changed perspective from the North = up convention), iconic Manhattan (some maps on New York City’s most notable borough), linguistic cartography (maps relating to language), based on the underground (maps based on London’s underground, like a map of different views of the afterlife as subway routes), fantastic maps (maps with fantasy themes), cartograms and other data maps (maps that show data and information, like how many kisses you are supposed to give to an acquaintance you have just met based on what province of France you are in), maps from outer space, and other miscellaneous maps (like the Vinland Map or Great Britain as a cloud).

So, why would someone read this book? If you like maps, have a taste for culture and odd history, and enjoy maps that make few pretensions as far as scale are concerned, and want to read an atlas that does not include the same set of topographical and political maps, you will find this book to be an enjoyable read. I suspect that there are enough people in this world who enjoy such matters as to make this a reasonably well-liked book. As a student of geography, politics, literature, and history, I found this to be a pleasant and enjoyable read throughout.

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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5 Responses to Book Review: Strange Maps

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