Mapping the Cold War

Cartography and the Framing of America’s International Power

By Timothy Barney

338 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 26 halftones, notes, bibl., index

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-1-4696-1854-8
    Published: April 2015
  • eBook ISBN: 978-1-4696-1855-5
    Published: April 2015

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In this fascinating history of Cold War cartography, Timothy Barney considers maps as central to the articulation of ideological tensions between American national interests and international aspirations. Barney argues that the borders, scales, projections, and other conventions of maps prescribed and constrained the means by which foreign policy elites, popular audiences, and social activists navigated conflicts between North and South, East and West. Maps also influenced how identities were formed in a world both shrunk by advancing technologies and marked by expanding and shifting geopolitical alliances and fissures. Pointing to the necessity of how politics and values were “spatialized” in recent U.S. history, Barney argues that Cold War–era maps themselves had rhetorical lives that began with their conception and production and played out in their circulation within foreign policy circles and popular media. Reflecting on the ramifications of spatial power during the period, Mapping the Cold War ultimately demonstrates that even in the twenty-first century, American visions of the world--and the maps that account for them--are inescapably rooted in the anxieties of that earlier era.

About the Author

Timothy Barney is assistant professor of rhetoric and communication studies at the University of Richmond.
For more information about Timothy Barney, visit the Author Page.


“The first significant work on the history of Cold War mapping.”--Journal of American History

“Serves notice that maps will continue to deliver intelligence details that will shape opinion quickly by virtue of the visual...recommended”--CHOICE

“Clearly occupies an important space within the literature of critical cartography, looking at how we interpret maps and how those in power utilize the map as a tool to promote their agenda of power in the world.”--The Portolan

“A fine book that should be read by any geographer or historian, especially those interested in mapping and the history of the Cold War.”--AAG Review of Books

“Stimulating and path-breaking.”--Journal of Historical Geography

“[Historians] will appreciate the rich evidence Barney presents in making his case that mapmaking was a central part of the Cold War battle. This book should be in every research library.”--H-Net Reviews