War Map: Pictorial Conflict Maps 1900-1950

A book and exhibition chronicle maps as propaganda

Looking at the maps included in this collection of propaganda cartography from the first half of the 20th century, many of which show an isolated Britain in conflict with malign forces in continental Europe, and there are times when you might think you were looking at images produced by UKIP, always assuming there was someone in the party membership with the hand/eye co-ordination necessary to create them.

War is not pretty, but the visual propaganda produced in Europe, the US and elsewhere during 1914-1918 and 1939-1945 often was. Not exactly pretty, perhaps, but certainly inventive, striking and graphically beautiful. Art deco and futurism are among the movements reflected in the designs featured in War Map, a large-format, 232-page hardback published by antiquarian map dealers The Map House.

Taking in the Boer war, the post-revolution Russian civil war and two world wars, War Map studies campaign and propaganda maps produced by protagonists on all sides. The book also includes maps documenting key diplomatic moments including the formation of the European Trade Charter and the United Nations. Compilers Philip Curtis and Jakob Søndergård Pedersen have made the book doubly informative by including insightful commentaries on contemporary events and the symbolism the maps' creators used to illustrate them.

An exhibition of maps included in the book will be presented at The Map House this autumn.