Our directory of things of interest

University Directory

MAPPING THE FIRST WORLD WAR: The Great War through Maps from 1914 to 1918 by Peter Chasseaud

  • Written by  Mick Herron
  • Published in Books
MAPPING THE FIRST WORLD WAR: The Great War through Maps from 1914 to 1918 by Peter Chasseaud
01 Feb
2014
Maps, in a sense, are what all wars are about. Disputing their accuracy, changing their colours, redrawing their boundaries: these are major causes and consequences of conflict

But the many maps in Peter Chasseaud’s book reveal not just some of the underlying causes of the Great War but indicate its progress: these are maps that chart history as it happened and, as such, were as much tools for the combatants as documents for the historian.

So, a map showing ‘enemy aerial activity’, its battle-line overscored with pencil scribbles indicating the passing of reconnaissance aircraft overhead, spoke volumes to those on the ground: when the sorties flew deeper than usual over the front line it was an indication of an impending attack. Another, overprinted on an Ordnance Survey base map and not intended for public consumption, shows the routes taken by German bombers over London and the Thames Estuary, indicating where defences were most needed. (A fascinating aerial photograph shows what these defences consisted of: it pictures one of London’s seven ‘balloon aprons’ – a kind of netting, held aloft by barrage balloons.)

Other charts present entire histories in themselves. The Stanford map ‘The Naval War in the North Sea’ attempts an overview of a theatre of war, depicting minefields, war wrecks and the locations of destroyed Zeppelins, alongside potted biographies of major combatants. That could lay claim to being a permanent record, while others are necessarily contingent: a German trench map of Tarnopol was, the author notes, ‘corrected to 18 November 1917’. A different day would have told a different story.

As the war’s centenary approaches, there’ll no doubt be a wealth of fresh perspectives offered. Chasseaud’s book, with its sober analysis of the major battles seen through the prism of the chartmaker’s art, may be among the more unusual volumes on offer.

MAPPING THE FIRST WORLD WAR: The Great War through Maps from 1914 to 1918 by Peter Chasseaud, Collins, in association with Imperial War Museums, £30

Subscribe and Save!

geo line break v3

Free eBooks - Geographical Newsletter

Sign up for our weekly newsletter today and get a FREE eBook collection!

geo line break v3

University of Winchester

geo line break v3

EDUCATION PARTNERS

Aberystwyth University University of Greenwich The University of Derby

TRAVEL PARTNERS

Ponant

Silversea

Travel the Unknown

NEVER MISS A STORY - Follow Geographical on Social

Want to stay up to date with breaking Geographical stories? Join the thousands following us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and stay informed about the world.

More articles in REVIEWS...

Films

A brutal, hard-hitting coming-of-age tale that doesn’t hold its punches

Books

by Dan Richards • Canongate • £19.99 (paperback)

Books

by Jeremy Purseglove • Profile Books • £14.99 (hardback/eBook)

Books

by Peter Hessler • Profile Books • £25 (hardback/eBook)

Books

by Thomas Lockley and Geoffrey Girard • Little, Brown • £20 (hardback/eBook)

Books

by Robert Macfarlane • Hamish Hamilton • £20 (hardback/eBook)

Exhibitions

An exhibition at the V&A brings together innovations from across…

Books

Dead in the Water edited by Bruce Shoemakers and William…

Films

A brutally realistic film about a cruel and pointless confrontation

Books

by Mike Berners-Lee • Cambridge University Press • £9.99 (paperback)

Films

In our attempt to control the natural world, humans have…

Books

by Sudipta Sen • Yale University Press • £20 (hardback)

Books

by Jerry Brotton • Reaktion Books • £9.99 (paperback)

Books

by Colin Everard • IB Tauris • £30 (hardback)

Books

by Pete Brown • Particular Books • £16.99 (hardback)

Books

by Paul Dobraszczyk • Reaktion Books • £18 (hardback)

Books

by Parag Khanna • Weidenfeld & Nicolson • £20 (hardback)

Films

It makes you angry - extremely. It makes you sad…

Books

by Rory O’Grady • The Conrad Press • £18.99 (hardback)