How Mapmakers Frame the World and Chart Environmental Change
Whether for sailing charts or property maps, Monmonier shows, coastlines challenge mapmakers to capture on paper a highly irregular land-water boundary perturbed by tides and storms and complicated by rocks, wrecks, and shoals. Coast Lines is peppered with captivating anecdotes about the frustrating effort to expunge fictitious islands from nautical charts, the tricky measurement of a coastline’s length, and the contentious notions of beachfront property and public access.
Combing maritime history and the history of technology, Coast Lines charts the historical progression from offshore sketches to satellite images and explores the societal impact of coastal cartography on everything from global warming to homeland security. Returning to the form of his celebrated Air Apparent, Monmonier ably renders the topic of coastal cartography accessible to both general readers and historians of science, technology, and maritime studies. In the post-Katrina era, when the map of entire regions can be redrawn by a single natural event, the issues he raises are more important than ever.
"Coastlines take on a completely different meaning after reading Mark Monmonier’s five-century-long odyssey on the challenges and tricks that mapmakers have used to tell us where land and sea meet. That line is far from obvious, it turns out. With the prospect of rising global sea levels, the technique of mapping changing bays, estuaries, and deltas requires imagination as much as mathematics. By using history and humor, Monmonier’s fascination with mapping our coastlines is highly infectious."