Academic journal article Geography

Historical Atlas of the United States

Academic journal article Geography

Historical Atlas of the United States

Article excerpt

Historical Atlas of the United States Derek Hayes Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 2007 280pp, 26x35cm Hb: £26.95, ISBN 978-0-520-25036-9

This outstanding atlas, reproducing more than 500 original maps - from sixteenth-century world maps on which America is mostly imagination to twenty-first-century satellite images of 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina - demonstrates most powerfully the relationship between mapping and national identity. Almost every page bears witness to exploration, engagement, exploitation or conquest. This may be an atlas 'of the United States' but it includes maps of West Africa (slave trade), Mexico, Cuba and the Philippines (war), Panama (canal-building) , the Western Front in the First World War, Normandy in the Second World War, Korea, Vietnam, Kuwait and the Moon, collectively demonstrating the extent of the American empire and evidence to the author of the ongoing 'fight for liberty'. Despite occasionally critical observations on the excesses of massacres of native peoples, the tone of the accompanying text is upbeat: a story of progressive struggle - against the environment, competitors and enemies. Even the attractive bird's eye views, such as the image of nineteenth-century Boston reproduced on the cover of the book, were created as propaganda: to attract businesses, investment and migrants.

The emphasis is on maps of boundaries, flows, movements, connections and networks - the products of political negotiators, explorers, military and technological boosters. …

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