Thinking with Maps: Understanding the World Through Spatialization

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Book Review: Thinking with Maps: Understanding the World Through Spatialization

Thinking with Maps Book Cover
Thinking with Maps: Understanding the world through spatialization

Book Review by Virginia Pow

Bruce, Bertram. Thinking with Maps: Understanding the world through spatialization. First Edition. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2021. 203 p. $91.78. ISBN 9781475859294.

Bertram C. Bruce has a Ph.D. in computer science and is professor emeritus in information science at the University of Illinois. He received his BA in biology from Rice University and Ph.D. in computer science from the University of Texas at Austin. Prior to his semi-retirement in 2011, he had appointments in Education, Bioengineering, the Center for Writing Studies, and the Center for East Asian and Pacific Studies at the University of Illinois. During 2007-08, he held a Fulbright Distinguished Chair at the National College of Ireland in Dublin.  

The author has created an easy to read and fascinating book looking at how maps are truly visual languages and need to be better incorporated into all levels and disciplines of education. He has highlighted how maps are often the end note in education when they should be a much more integrated and core concept. The author has easily woven into his novel how geographical and cartographic elements created better connections between various relationships. He highlights how maps can create the story of culture, societies, and interconnections, which otherwise would not have been captured as elegantly. The author has managed to describe how geographical visualizations are necessary and woven them into timely and real situations and applications. He has highlighted how often individuals think with maps and how we need to apply the use of them more in our education, pedagogy, and everyday living.  The author, through his examples of many wide-ranging geographical locations, has managed to also explain and show how interdisciplinary maps truly are. 

I greatly enjoyed reading this book and feel it would be an excellent addition to any library that has a focus on cartography and education. The author has managed to take what could have been a fairly dry topic and instead create a fascinating read about the importance of maps and how interconnected they are to societies and their regions. He has discussed the history of older maps as well as the advanced current forms of cartography. The author has highlighted how maps are not just tools to be used for locations, but instead important communication tools to create and explain connections we would otherwise not be able to.   

Virginia Pow
University of Alberta
Edmonton, Canada