TRAVEL & GEOGRAPHY

Time in Maps: From the Age of Discovery to Our Digital Era

Univ. of Chicago. Nov. 2020. 272p. ISBN 9780226718620. $45. REF
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In this thought-provoking work, the result of the Time in Space conference at Stanford University in 2017, editors Wigen (history, Stanford Univ.) and Winterer (history and American studies, Stanford Univ.) suggest that maps can help orient us not just to space but also to time. They have compiled essays from leading experts, including historians, geographers, art historians, and map curators. One of the key themes of this work concerns the value of traditional maps in the era of digital mapping. Geographic information systems can express enormous amounts of data in a spatial rather than textual manner, which would seem to render traditional paper maps irrelevant. This work emphasizes that traditional maps are not static but in fact can depict time in ingenious and provocative ways. In his essay, William Rankin (history of science, Yale Univ.) provides numerous examples of how supposedly static maps contain temporal references—for instance, Harold Fisk’s 1944 series of 15 maps offers a rich history of the Mississippi River. Wigen and Winterer’s work also contains colorful maps and illustrations from the last 500 years organized into three regions: Pacific Asia, the Atlantic world, and the United States.
VERDICT This scholarly work provides an intriguing, unique way to consider maps. Recommended for those who like cartography and history.

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