I love maps. To me, these are works of art, and they also impart such interesting information. Looking at maps also tells you a lot about the people who made them, and how those people perceive their world. That is how I tend to study any period of history – by first studying the maps of the time.
It all started when I was 12 years old. It was the Centennial, the 100-year anniversary of the Civil War, and I became fascinated with the maps in a book called The American Heritage Picture History of the Civil War. It’s had many reprintings over the years, and there is a new edition. This is a “go to” book for anyone with an interest of the Civil War who wants to understand what the battles and the terrain looked like.
It has always been my real, true inspiration is to do something with maps, and that is what led me to publish a map study series beginning with the Civil War and Grant Rising.
I have to say I’ve been incredibly disappointed with the history books printed in the last 10 years either because they have no maps, or too few maps, or the maps included are awful – black and white, trying to show too many details about a battle on a single map, etc. This makes them drab, crowded and confusing.
I have been in publishing since 1972 and have a lot of friends and contacts in book and magazine publishing. From this I know that maps simply add too much to the cost of a book. So unless authors pay money out of their own pockets (which some will do), it’s difficult to get quality maps to go with their text. Yet no matter how well a book is written, without maps you just don’t get the whole “picture.”
Is this the future for history books? There are still some publishers producing maps. What I think makes Lombardy Studios and our books like Grant Rising stand out is that we are the only ones using a full-color treatment throughout, with multiple colors throughout the maps, and terrain that just pops off the page (watch for an upcoming guest post by cartographer Hal Jespersen to read more about our specialized mapping technique).
I love maps, and so I am making the map books that I want to see, as a Civil War buff, enthusiast and historian. I’m betting there are a lot of other people out there like me who will appreciate this map series. For all of you, enjoy!