The Red Atlas: How the Soviet Union Secretly Mapped the World

After the collapse of the Soviet Union an astonishing treasure trove came to light – hundreds of thousands of maps showing in chilling detail countries and cities throughout the world. The story of this amazing cartographic enterprise has never been told .... until now!

The Red Atlas: How the Soviet Union Secretly Mapped the World by John Davies and Alexander J Kent will be published by University of Chicago Press in October 2017

You may not be surprised to learn that during the Cold War the Soviet Union gathered information about the West. But you may be astonished to discover just how much they knew about your town, your street, even your house.
This is the never-before-told story of the world’s most comprehensive mapping endeavour and, arguably, the world’s most intriguing maps.
It is the story of how it was possible, during the dark days of mutual suspicion and under the ever-present threat of mutual nuclear destruction, for Soviet cartographers to collect such an astonishing wealth of detail about the streets, buildings, industries, transport and utilities of capitalist cities. This book is for the general reader and for everyone interested in the history and political geography of the twentieth century.

Reviewers' quotes:
Joe Weisberg, creator and executive producer of “The Americans” : “When money and technology weren’t an issue—when it was just about brainpower and hard work—the Soviets could compete with anyone. So it shouldn’t be a surprise to learn that their mapmakers, like their athletes, were among the best in the world. Many of the maps in this collection were made to guide Soviet soldiers in potential wars against enemies abroad. But like the best socialist-realist propaganda posters, they transcend their original purpose. Decades after they were created, they are now unique works of art, offering the viewer what can only be called a kind of emotional-cartographic-political experience.”

Marina Lewycka, author of A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian : “Utterly fascinating. A must-read for anyone interested in the former Soviet Union or in maps and mapping in general.”

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