1This three-part work published in the “Cursus” series is designed for students and all researchers wishing to make thematic maps. It offers an effective presentation of the specific kind of thinking involved in map-making and lets readers practice what they have learned by way of “map game” quizzes – all of which explains why it was chosen for publication in this educational series.
2The book moves back and forth effectively between theory and practice, illustrating each topic with maps and outlines. It also briefly covers the history of map-making, reviewing the great names and key dates. The “Focus” boxes enhance readers’ knowledge of the world of map-making. Overall, the book offers a complete account of what map-makers need to know and do.
3It is organized around the major steps involved in producing a map. The first half of Part I handles fundamental questions on base maps, such as how to obtain them, their particular features (projection, spatial extent, generalization, interconnection) and what features will convey the information desired. The second half explains construction of the relevant statistical data: identification, aggregation, recoding. There is also a chapter on data attribution methods (descriptive statistics, discretizing) and on semiology of graphics rules. Here again, precise examples are provided, and the theoretical and practical aspects of student and researcher choices fully covered.
4Part II presents the map-making language developed by Jacques Bertin, with its visual variables for transcribing information. The authors discuss color and symbol use as means of presenting indicator information on choropleth or proportional symbols maps. Readers are given rules for representing the notion of order and time variation and for comparing indicators.
5Part III moves beyond “classic” thematic map-making, discussing other methods for conveying space-related information. In anamorphosis, the base map is deformed to represent quantity. Smoothed maps efface geographic and therefore administrative or government borders, while grids carve geographic space into regular squares. Flow maps are used to represent trade or migration flows.
6As the book explains, map-makers need to think through what information they want to convey (base map and indicators) and include the following essential features: captions, orientation, scale, and colors.
7This last part also guides readers in thinking through the purpose and use of the maps they produce. As Nicolas Lambert and Christine Zanin show, maps are both a highly effective means of exploring data and a useful visualization aid for understanding political and social phenomena. The authors present and discuss eight different map representations of GDP to show how important it is to construct a map that “narrates” clearly. It is also important to grasp the limitations of maps in order to overcome them and in some cases to simplify the image so as to convey the message more effectively.
8At the end of the book the reader will find extremely useful additional resources for constructing maps, including a list and reviews of software programs ranging from GIS to CAD and more standard automatic map-making programs. There are online applications on which tools fit specific needs; also websites for downloading government statistics and base maps at different geographic levels: France, Europe, and the world. The work offers a well-chosen glossary of terms used in the field and constitutes an excellent toolbox for contemporary map-makers.