The World As We Don't See It: A Geographer’s Review of “Atlas of the Invisible: Maps and Graphics That Will Change How You See The World.”

April 10, 2023

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Author’s Note: What would geography be without mysteries to be explored, and maybe, but not always, solved. Let's explore the unknown, a running theme to the books in this series of posts.

I love geographic infographics, perhaps to a fault. I have made myself stop buying new books, but my friends at the county library are always willing to consider my requests for more. The most recent is “Atlas of the Invisible: Maps and Graphics That Will Change How You See The World.” Written by award winning authors James Chesire of University College in London and Oliver Uberti of the National Geographic Society, this book describes and illustrates phenomena not easily perceived nor digested by our individual perceptions.

This incredibly addictive book, while a relatively short 218 pages, contains information so rich that I have found myself waking up at midnight by the fire with it still in my lap.

The accompanying text doesn’t talk down to readers; it talks up to us. The preface and introduction draw us in, with antique maps by Humboldt and Berghaus, then typewriter maps, all the way to artistic lidar maps of the Mississippi River's meanders. Then the authors offer four distinct chapters:

  • "Where We've Been: The Lives of Others"
  • "Who We Are: Drawing Lines"
  • "How We're Doing: Truth to Power"
  • "What We Face: The Search for Certainty"

With topics as varied as "Vagrant Lives," "Light Levels," "Bombshell Reports," and "Move Fast, Break Maps," this brilliant book combines maps, charts, graphs and other data to reveal amazing stories that we might not otherwise see. It reveals the invisible in dramatic fashion.

Read the other blogs in this series: 

Check out other Books for Geography Lovers!

Reposted from The DirectionsMag Geospatial Community Blog, an extension of Directions Magazine. Visit us for daily geospatial news, exclusive articles, geospatial webinars, and podcasts. If you are interested in contributing, please email


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