John Davies is editor of Sheetlines, the journal of the Charles Close Society for the Study of Ordnance Survey Maps. He lives in London. Alexander J. Kent is a reader in cartography and geographical information science at Canterbury Christ Church University and president of the British Cartographic Society.
"The Red Atlas is an amazing book, especially if you've ever pondered the power of satellite imagery as a surveillance tool. Military mapping has two modes: mapping one's own territory so you can better defend it, and mapping an opponent's territory so you can attack or take control. Focusing on the latter, The Red Atlas shows the impressive and frightening detail of maps of Western Europe and North American prepared by Soviet cartographers during the Cold War. Overhead imaging with satellites and high-resolution cameras provided the basic geographic canvass and ground intelligence--spies, tourists, and maps sold freely by commercial firms and government surveys--filled in local details such as street names, the height and width of railway overpasses, and the load capacity of bridges. Map collector John Davies collaborated with academic cartographer Alex Kent to tell the story of how the USSR systematically mapped the West's cities, ports, highways, railways, and military targets, and how these maps fell into the hands of map dealers following the collapse of the Soviet Union. Their examination of selected examples from Britain and the United States also highlights errors that are revealing in some cases and puzzling in others. The Red Atlas belongs in the collection of every map enthusiast and military historian--carefully researched, well-written, and exquisitely designed and printed, it's perhaps the only recent map history that can be called a real eye-opener." --Mark Monmonier, author of How to Lie with Maps