Five years of civil war has devastated the Syrian city of Aleppo, which had a population of more than two million before the fighting started. CNN provides interactive satellite imagery of Aleppo from before and after the destruction: sliders allow you to see the damage on a block-by-block level.
We’re familiar with caricature maps from before and during the First World War: maps that reimagine various countries as warring animals or caricatured faces. These aren’t the only examples of persuasive cartography or of pictorial maps of this or other wars, but I imagine they’ll be front and centre at a new exhibition at The Map House, an antiquarian map seller in London. War Map: Pictorial Conflict Maps, 1900-1950 opened last week and runs until 18 November. A companion book of the same name is apparently available as of next week. [Geographical]
National Geographic looks at the 20 or so amateur mapmakers producing digital maps of the Syrian civil war. Some are neutral, some are partial to one side, all are dealing with the challenges of producing accurate, up-to-date information far from the front lines.
The rise of these next-generation mapmakers comes as many news organizations around the world are reducing their commitment to foreign coverage. And reporting from conflict zones remains as dangerous as ever. According to Reporters Without Borders, 50 journalists and 142 citizen journalists have been killed in Syria since 2011. The lack of on-the-ground coverage by journalists leaves an information gap that is being filled by these digitally savvy mapmakers.
The New York Times maps the impact of Russian airstrikes on the Syrian civil war. Using several maps to indicate the impact on each faction—government, rebels, ISIS and Kurds—strikes me as quite effective, as is the use of colour-highlighted text in the headings, rather than a legend, to indicate each faction.
The Syria Conflict Mapping Project (screenshot above), a project of the Carter Center, has been documenting events in the Syrian civil war since 2012 using open source information. “Using these publicly available resources, as well as regular consultations with stakeholders in the country, the Center has documented and mapped over 40,000 conflict events in Syria (including clashes, aerial bombardments, artillery shelling, etc.), the changing relations between thousands of armed groups, movements of internally displaced people, and humanitarian conditions.” [via]
I feel a little embarrassed by my constant linking to Geographical magazine’s book reviews, but they point to books, particularly British books, that I otherwise hadn’t heard of—such as Dan Smith’s State of the Middle East Atlas (New Internationalist, November 2015), the third edition of which was just published. From Laura Cole’s review: “[T]he atlas has been revised with new analyses of the region since the Arab Spring began in 2011 as well as the latest on the Israel-Palestine conflict, the refugee crisis and foreign fighters in Iraq and Syria. Smith, cartographer and director of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, has kept up with the compelling changes and complicated dynamics of Middle Eastern politics.” Buy at Amazon U.K.
- Great Escapes: The Story of MI9’s Second World War Escape and Evasion Maps by Barbara Bond (Times Books, October 2015): history of the escape maps produced for prisoners of war.
- Mapping the Second World War by Peter Chasseaud (Collins, October 2015): a collection of historical maps; follow-up to Chasseaud’s 2013 book Mapping the First World War.
- Mapping the Second World War: The Key Battles of the European Theatre from Above by Michael Swift and Michael Sharpe (Conway Maritime Press, November 2014).
Previously: Two Books on WWI Maps.
Two forthcoming books that deal with maps of the First World War: Peter Chasseaud’s Mapping the First World War: The Great War Through Maps from 1914-1918, out in a few weeks from Collins; and Simon Forty’s Mapping the First World War: Battlefields of the Great Conflict from Above, out some time next year from Conway Maritime Press.