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How to Lie with Maps, Third Edition

An instant classic when first published in 1991, How to Lie with Maps revealed how the choices mapmakers make—consciously or unconsciously—mean that every map inevitably presents only one of many possible stories about the places it depicts. The principles Mark Monmonier outlined back then remain true today, despite significant technological changes in the making and use of maps. The introduction and spread of digital maps and mapping software, however, have added new wrinkles to the ever-evolving landscape of modern mapmaking.

​Fully updated for the digital age, this new edition of How to Lie with Maps examines the myriad ways that technology offers new opportunities for cartographic mischief, deception, and propaganda. While retaining the same brevity, range, and humor as its predecessors, this third edition includes significant updates throughout as well as new chapters on image maps, prohibitive cartography, and online maps. It also includes an expanded section of color images and an updated list of sources for further reading. 

Read the introduction.

256 pages | 16 color plates, 110 halftones | 5 1/2 x 8 1/2 | © 2018

Geography: Cartography, Geography--Reference

Reference and Bibliography


"Still a bible for cartographers."

Financial Times

"Monmonier continues to have a great deal to offer to first time readers and return visitors alike. This new edition of How to Lie with Maps again succeeds in explaining not only the various ways in which maps can be manipulated, but also the necessity for this manipulation. Most importantly, he continues to create a population of informed map readers, who have learned that they must remain skeptical of the biases and motivations of mapmakers. . . All maps lie, and Monmonier continues to serve as an able guide for readers at any level to begin the process of informed cartographic interpretation and engagement."

Cartographic Perspectives

"Monmonier, in his book How to Lie With Maps, points out that while American students are often taught to analyze words—to be 'cautious consumers' of them—they are seldom taught to do the same with maps. Persuasive cartography reveals how maps manipulate and should be regarded with a critical eye, a lesson that’s perhaps even more important in the present political climate."

City Lab

"Covers everything from choice of symbols to use of colour and shade to the influence of culture and politics on maps. It’s fascinating, the interplay between the apparently technical choices made in making a 2D representation of reality and the social/political/cultural context of the mapmaker. The book will make me a far better prepared observer of the way maps are used in the media and online. Surely we could all do with some more cartographical literacy?"

The Enlightened Economist



“An artful and a funny book, which like any good map packs plenty in a little space.”

Scientific American

"A useful guide to a subject most people probably take too much for granted. It shows how map makers translate abstract data into eye-catching cartograms, as they are called. It combats cartographic illiteracy. It fights cartophobia. It may even teach you to find your way. For that alone it seems worthwhile."

New York Times

"This unusual book shows how cartographers distort the information they present—accidentally and deliberately."

Los Angeles Times

"A humorous, informative and perceptive appraisal of a key source of information that most of us have always taken for granted."

Toronto Globe and Mail

"Will leave you much better defended against cheap atlases, shoddy journalism, unscrupulous advertisers, predatory special-interest groups, and others who may use or abuse maps at your expense." 

Christian Science Monitor

"The prose is clear, easy to read, and sparkles with erudite humor." 

Geographical Review

"[Monmonier] has a sharp critical eye, but his primary purpose is constructive – he wants to make better maps and have us use maps more intelligently. He writes well about the history of maps because he can easily put himself in the mind of the map-maker and see things much as they saw them. His first thought is for practical problems; his admiration is for elegant solutions."

Visual Studies

"How to Lie with Maps continues to be inviting and readable, concealing detailed introductions to critical cartographic concepts beneath a veneer of humorous and casual prose...All maps lie, and Mark Monmonier continues to serve as an able guide for readers at any level to begin the process of informed cartographic interpretation and engagement."

Cartographic Perspectives

"A classic in the world of mapping books, How to Lie With Maps was first published in 1991. Mark Monmonier reveals the ways in which maps tell only one side of any story, reflecting the views and biases of their makers. Updated for the digital age in this new edition, the book now examines the myriad ways that technology offers new opportunities for cartographic mischief, deception, and propaganda."


Table of Contents

Preface to the Third Edition
1. Introduction
2. Elements of the Map
3. Map Generalization: Little White Lies and Lots of Them
4. Blunders That Mislead
5. Color: Attraction and Distraction
6. Maps That Advertise
7. Development Maps (Or, How to Seduce the Town Board)
8. Maps for Political Propaganda
9. Maps, Defense, and Disinformation: Fool Thine Enemy
10. Large-Scale Mapping, Culture, and the National Interest
11. Data Maps: A Thicket of Thorny Choices
12. Image Maps: Picture That
13. Prohibitive Cartography: Maps That Say “No!”
14. Fast Maps: Animated, Interactive, or Mobile
15. Epilogue
Appendix: Latitude and Longitude
Selected Readings for Further Exploration
Sources of Illustrations

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