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Response to Review no. 45

I was initially reluctant to respond to Felix Driver’s review because I often find such responses petty, but, as I am told that such a response is expected, I offer some reflections.

1. I found this an interesting review by a major historical geographer that correctly draws attention to problems of definition.

2. I agree with the need to break down boundaries between disciplines.

3. I believe it crucial that scholars should try to reach out to a wider audience, and should try to understand those works that succeed in doing so.

4. I find the literature on historic cartography less helpful than Felix suggests. I have discussed the flaws of Brian Harley’s work extensively in my Maps and Politics (Reaktion Books 1997). This should be read in conjunction with Maps and History. Despite Felix’s remarks, I return to the comments on page 133 that he cites. Literature on historic cartography is of little assistance to the study of historical atlases. Felix tries to conflate two related but very different subjects. As a consequence, he does not understand why my emphasis is on the period pot-1800 and, even more, post-1945. This reflects my emphasis on historical atlases and my concern with a spatial sense of the past.

5. I also regret the absence of visual images from Communist historical atlases. There were many on my “picture list”, but Yale University Press could not obtain permission rights.

6. The reference to conservation relates to the contents of atlases. This is in large part influenced by a market that is believed to have only slowly changing expectations about content. Computers and visual reality alter this far less than Felix suggests.
 

This is not intended as an ungenerous response. I admire Felix Driver’s work. My own book has flaws and limitations, and its emphasis will not please all. I do not, however, think it helpful to interpret it from the perspective of the intellectual position that I have challenged in Maps and Politics.