on 23 October 2012
This book mainly covers visualisation of statistical information in a geographical context. It does not go deeply into, for example, geographical information systems that add information about, say, objects and infrastructure in an area. Interestingly enough it goes into quite some detail on computer-supported visualisations, including virtual environments for cartography, but a drawback of that is that that information was obsolete already when the book was printed. On the other hand the book has a web page which is frequently referred to. The text does not demand a lot if prerequisite knowledge, in particular the reader's mathematical background is assumed to be at a primary-school level, yet different styles of map projections are assumed to be familiar by name, even though the mathematical details of them are not mentioned. I found it quite interesting to see how much of cartographic data is "faked" or fudged in various ways in order to give a better overview and thus improve the viewer's understanding of relations and data.
It's a bit of a pity that the frequent colour images have been collected into a separate section, so one has to keep multiple fingers in the pages and flip back and forth to follow the exposition.
The text is somewhat US-centric, and the examples completely so, and I thought it a bit self-indulgent to spend an entire chapter on who has known who within US cartography. Sometimes I wondered if there was any specific thought behind the chosen examples of statistics that were quite often concerned with poverty and race, but the chosen data were never discussed in context.
In summary this is an easy-to-read volume with good-quality illustrations, a fair introduction to the subject.