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How to Lie with Maps

3.47 of 5 stars 3.47  ·  rating details  ·  362 ratings  ·  47 reviews
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. Monmonier shows that, despite their immense value, maps lie. In fact, they must.

The second edition is updated with the addition of two new ch
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Paperback, 207 pages
Published May 1st 1996 by University Of Chicago Press (first published 1991)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,124)
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Michael Scott
Monmonier's How to Lie with Maps follows in the footsteps of Darrell Huff's How To Lie With Statistics, focusing on the tricks of mapmaking. In short, maps are depictions of information with geographical meaning and as such they may misreport with or without intent. Monmonier introduces the most important cartography notions and gives many examples of "lying with maps" for various purposes. Despite the use of smart phrase-turns and of coining interesting words such as "cartopropaganda"--the use ...more
Andrew
How to Lie with Maps reviews the various ways maps can deceive percipients who don’t interpret maps carefully. As stated in chapter one, this book is not meant to help mischievous cartographers. Rather, its purpose is to encourage the general public to be more critical and selective in their map interpretation. The book includes twelve main chapters that explain general categories of cartographic deception. Due to this large amount of specific ideas in the book, it is easiest to divide a critiq ...more
Zioluc
L'approccio "come mentire con..." è sempre il migliore per comprendere i meccanismi di un mezzo e saperlo leggere e usare consapevolmente.
Questo testo non fa eccezione con le mappe, che mentono per molti versi: innanzi tutto perché sono rappresentazioni sintetiche della realtà e quindi devono ometterne alcuni aspetti per essere leggibili.
Ma mentono anche perché sono il complesso frutto di un lavoro di elaborazione che può voler trasmettere un messaggio piuttosto che un altro (propaganda, pubbl
...more
Laura
I wanted to like this book. Actually, I wanted to love it and learn from it and use it often in my work. Problem was, I just couldn't convince myself to plod through the writing. It's not that it's too dense, or too pedantic, or at all unclear. It was just boring. I'm sure there are some interesting tidbits in there, but it didn't seem worth wading through the text to get there.
Jeff Aldrich
Do not let the title fool you - this is one of the best primers on how all maps are - one way or another - a distortion of facts - and how to see the errors in maps. A must read for anyone who makes any type of map or spends time interpreting maps. A Classic!
Stephen
What I remember most about this book is its first line:

"Not only is it easy to lie with maps it is ESSENTIAL." Maps have to distort some information and omit so much else.
Matthew Selvaggio
Everything I learned about Geography was a lie.
Harrison
I'm a geography major focusing on cartography. I was excited about this book as Monmonier hails from the geography powerhouse Penn State. But as with several other reviewers, I found the book to be somewhat outdated, and thus, a bit of a slog.

I think it would've been more interesting to read when it came out, but cartography has advanced so much in the past 23-24 years that, while many of the theories and principles in the book are still worthy of discussion, the context in which the information
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Erin
One of my professors recommended reading this, and with its flashy cover and catchy title, I thought I would give it a try. The book was easy to read and had some interesting examples of cases in which maps had been manipulated for all sorts of reasons, but the book is very outdated. I have the 1996 version, and it was amusing to read the parts that describe technology as something people had no grasp on (How monitors and cursors work, for instance) Further, many of the secrets to spotting a mis ...more
Tjibbe Wubbels
I'm doubting whether this book is meant as a warning or a guide. As an occasional map maker I certainly stored parts of it in my memory as a how-to.

The book offers a nice overview of the ways in which maps do not exactly represent real life. I always thought that was the whole point of maps (for one, it's smaller). This book lists a great number of ways in which map makers influence the perception of a map by the viewers. Some of these (maps, not the viewers) are rather small, others have a huge
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Thomas Paul
Any book that calls itself, "How to Lie with..." is simply begging for a reviewer to compare it to, How to Lie with Statistics. The latter is a classic that is fun and educational. Unfortunately, this book falls short of deserving the title but it is still an interesting read. One of the main problems is that rather than being a guide to help avoid being fooled by maps, the author uses the book as an introduction to the science of cartography. It seems that a large portion of the book is aimed t ...more
Eliza
This was a great presentation on how people can be manipulated by maps. It is a cautionary book to inform the reader of sources of misinformation & error so the reader can then take the map with a grain of salt and not as "truth". The book dealt with issues of power. Issues covered included map manipulations used in advertising, development, national security, the military, and politics. For me, the most interesting parts related to national-level maps such as the USGS topographic maps, and ...more
Justin Gilstrap
Considered to be one of the most influential books in the history of the study of geography. Monmonier captures a really significant movement in cartography from the conception of maps as objective representations of reality to inherent reflections of cartographic choice and focus. Though dated, I have read it several times- both the first and second editions. Monmonier does a decent job of making what could be a very abstruse topic accessible to a general audience with his breezy, though someti ...more
Sherry Schwabacher
Too dry. Filled with math and really BAD illustrations. For a book that is trying to show what good maps and bad maps look like, the graphics were terrible.

Benjamin
some interesting factoids about past lies told with maps.

not a bad book, but there are many other better books on the practice I would read first.
Muhammad al-Khwarizmi
Neat book but kind of dated in the age of QGIS, etc. Also mentions spatial autocorrelation and the MAUP but doesn't name either of them outright.
Kaethe
Good introduction to the topic, but I already know this stuff. It's neither as specific nor as contemporary as I had hoped.
Dan
This book is cleverly Machiavellian. It educates the lay person about cartography as if seducing them to join in sinister plots. Each chapter, however, ends with a concise summary outlining the serious points in a matter of fact way, clearly showing proper ethics.
A lot of what was in this book, I already knew from course work, what I enjoyed most were the fascinating case studies and examples from history. Most of the book was good for the lay man, but some of the more technical chapters at the
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EC
This was a textbook for my Intro to Cartography class. Specifically for the module on map misuse. I thought it was well written and a pretty easy read. Includes some great information on ways that maps can be used to tell lies. Most often white lies, maybe by omission and many times simply because the purpose of a particular map is simply advertising, but they can also be blatant, in the case of political propaganda or promoting some cause. In addition, this book helped me to understand some map ...more
Charles
A very interesting book. I had thought that maps were some kind of visual truth. That idea turns out to be incorrect. Maps are an artistic conception. For example, take a geo centric American traveler, me, on a trip in Australia. I walked past a map shop window and prominently displayed was a map of Australia with that continent in the center of the map and America sliced in half on either side of the page. I tell you it rocked my world. Doesn't everybody know Americas in the center and the divi ...more
Kate
Aug 22, 2014 Kate rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: cartographic mystics
Recommended to Kate by: G 108.7 M66 1996
"Like quoting a public figure out of context, extracting soils data from a photomap invites misinterpretation."

"Map blunders make amusing anecdotes."
Tim
Monmonier, a geographer, provides an accessible introduction to the elements and risks of the map-maker's trade. With maps, as with any images, the image-maker will shape audience perceptions in how she fashions the image. She may do this consciously or not, truthfully or not, beautifully or not, for good or for ill. Monmonier advocates the conscious creation and consumption of truthful, beautiful, and morally salutary maps, recognizing full well the essential element of reasoned art on which th ...more
Gill
Very useful for students and the uninitiated... The friendly writing style and scattered anecdotal stories are surrounded by technical tips for map makers. There are some organizational deficiencies in the book that left me wondering why certain "lies" were introduced in certain sections. Chapter 12 and 13 need to be thoroughly revised and updated.

Otherwise highly recommended for anyone who has never thought about the way that maps are used in everyday life or in political discourse.
catechism
rounding up again. I think this book would make a pretty good intro for people who haven't been map nerds since birth, or who don't spend a lot of time obsessing about the visual display of information. I found it was full of information I already knew, though I did learn I would totally read an entire non-introductory text on cartographic disinformation and the use of maps in political propaganda.
Alger
A simple introduction to how people lie with maps. It has the virtue of being just technical enough that it makes solid criticisms of how maps are made and used, while avoiding getting too far into the weeds.
There are better cartography books out there, but this is a fine entry into critical reading of maps in the tradition of How to Lie with Statistics.
Elenaran
Classic tome of geography, but unfortunately a lot of it is dated (all the computer/electronic cartography topics). Also, it would've been much more interesting if the author had spent more time on malicious lies of maps than the white lies of map generalization and covering basic topics like latitude/longitude, coordinate systems, the color spectrum, etc.
Sarah
As a map-maker, I appreciated the behind-the-scenes insights into how to portray information that you want the viewer to see. A lot of common-sense (make the item of interest pop out with bright colors and use subdued colors for items you want to downplay), but also some surprises.
Cheryl
Fascinating & important subject, told in the most boring voice possible. After the beginning, covering the difference between a globe and a flat projection, I learned a lot. But it was a slog. Does anyone know a better book on the subject?
Aneel
Feb 09, 2010 Aneel rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommended to Aneel by: Jessica
Jessica left this around. It's a quick read about how maps necessarily bias the information they portray and how the design choices of mapmakers can clarify, confuse, or conceal -- intentionally or not. Pretty basic stuff, and fairly dry.
Rock
Cartography is the art of dancing about architecture. Though a bit dry and dated, How to Lie with Maps is a good overview to the problems inherent in this futile but irresistible practice.
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