Connections and Content

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Monmonier, Mark. Connections and Content: Reflections on Networks and the History of Cartography. Redlands: Esri Press, 2019. 275 p. $29.97. LC: 2019945357. ISBN: 978-1-58948-559-4.

In this book, Mark Monmonier sets out to describe the relationship between networks and maps. In the first chapters the author establishes a foundation to discuss maps and networks by covering the mathematics and specifically the geometry behind the creation of maps. By necessity these are the most theoretical and laborious to read, but help lay the groundwork for further exploration of the topic. Once one moves into more of the “Reflections on Networks and the History of Cartography” in the following chapters the book reads very easily and would be appealing to all audiences.

The discussion on symbols used in mapping, particularly in representing streams and rivers, as well as railroads, is entertaining and informative. It is in the concluding chapters that the history of cartography and its connection to networks is made clear via the illustration of the Erie Canal and its creation and planning with the use of maps. The infrastructure of networks such as the rail networks established across the United States is also discussed in this chapter.

Much of the volume is of a historical nature from history of the establishment of the Erie Canal to the creation of the first synchronous weather map in Europe. The use of the reconstructed Brandes weather map to explain the nature and evolution of mapping is very effective in demonstrating how a network of observers lead to a new type of map. It was due to the simultaneous weather conditions reported by the Palatine Meteorological Society which allowed the construction of the Brandes map showing the weather at a particular moment in time by mapping the data from the network of observers.

Finally, the author does a good job of demonstrating the intertwined nature of networks and maps. The example of GPS and it increasing use in autonomous vehicles works well in illustrating the ways in which networks of data either work with maps or create maps to provide such new services. The ability to control networks using maps and mapping is described through a discussion of political gerrymandering.

Overall the volume does a good job of describing and illustrating the connections between networks and maps, via both historical scenarios as well as current case studies. While the book offers the chance for information overload for the more casual reader and some basic groundwork in mathematics is helpful, the book would be recommended for any general collection and as good introduction to the growing connection between networks and maps.

William Rafter
University Librarian
West Virginia University
Morgantown, WV

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