Some books are simply so magnificent in their scope and execution you know they are destined to become classics from the moment you open the cover and begin to turn the pages. "Scotland: Mapping the Nation" is one of those books. For anyone with an interest in the way that Scotland's development over the centuries has been portrayed, or anyone with an interest in maps and mapping, then this is a simply unmissable book: and one you will find yourself returning to time and again.
One reason for this is the way the text and maps within it are interwoven. The second, and perhaps more compelling, reason why this is such a beautiful book is simply down to the quality, variety and presentation of the maps it contains. The book has been written with the full cooperation of the National Library for Scotland and it makes extensive and intelligent use of their map collections in charting the development of maps of Scotland and exploring specific types of mapping. Coupled with the large format of the book, the result is a considerable number of carefully selected and beautifully reproduced maps that make absolutely fascinating viewing. "Scotland: Mapping the Nation" is a book you could simply browse, looking at the maps, and come away with a great deal you didn't previously know.
But while the maps are the element that ensures this is a book you will keep on coming back to, it is worth remembering that they are there to illustrate the narrative. Here we find many aspects of the mapping of Scotland explored in considerable and enjoyable detail. In part the approach taken has been a historical one, and early chapters tell the story of the origins of the mapping of Scotland and the way it evolved over the centuries. Later chapters take a more thematic approach. Among the topics covered are the use of maps for military purposes, including chilling maps prepared to support the Luftwaffe bombing campaign in World War Two and an example of the amazingly detailed maps prepared by the Red Army during the Cold War to support a possible invasion. Other themes covered (among many) include the mapping of towns; of islands; of the seas around us; maps intended for travellers; and the mapping of scientific themes.