Review: Remapping Modern Germany after National Socialism

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germanyMingus, Matthew D. Remapping Modern Germany after National Socialism, 1945-1961. First edition. New York: Syracuse University Press, 2017. 208p. ISBN: 978-0-8156-3538-3.

The preface of Remapping Modern Germany after National Socialism, 1945-1961 explained that this book was not about the history of Germany during the 1945-1961. This book instead discusses the cartographer’s role in how Germany was perceived by the world because of mapmakers’ influences. This is not a book on the history of Modern Germany during the mid-twentieth century. It is a well-illustrated, exemplified explanation of how a cartographer’s role and influences affect the perception of a country by use of space and geography (by mapmakers) and can adjust the world’s view of a land, nation, political status, etc. For example, the author stresses that mapmakers were influenced by politics during this time and they were not designing geographic and spatial areas objectively. Indeed, there were several examples of maps illustrating the unimaginable ways that maps of Germany and other involved countries were drawn up. In fact, Margaret Thatcher said, and I paraphrase, that Great Britain would only get part of the Balkan states while Germany got the better deal.

I perceive this book to be an academic work that is about historical cartography. Thus, a geographical, cartographical, and historical work on Modern Germany after National Socialism, 1945-1961. Its title is simply a concise synopsis of what and why and how the remapping of Modern Germany occurred during this crucial time. Mingus’ work encompasses a time when Nationalism, particularly in Europe, wavered.

The author did not veer from what he set out to do. Nationalism and Socialism and politics were explained yet the author never deterred from the fact that this book was about Germany during a period of time through the lens of a cartographer. I would say that it is safe to say it is of value to geographers and cartographers; perhaps, even political scientists; however, with the maps lens.

The map lens is definitely in use when Mingus talks about how our spatial and geographical boundaries are perceived. He fast forwards to the twenty-first century and Google maps and asks us to question the objectivity/credibility. There is more to cartography than just mathematics, longitude, latitude, accuracy and following mutually understood boundaries. Mingus covers the integrity of cartography and how world perceptions strongly still depend on maps created, rather than questioning if the maker of a map was influenced in any way.

As a librarian I was thoroughly interested in this work. I work in a public library; however, I believe this work may be more appreciated in academia.

Michelle Amirkhanian
Librarian
Pacific Grove Public Library
Pacific Grove, CA 93950

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