Menno-Jan Kraak presents new book

UT professor tries to improve the best map of the world

Mapping Time: Illustrated by Minard's Map of Napoleon's Russian Campaign of 1812

From 23 May, the book 'Mapping Time' will be available from The book was written by Menno-Jan Kraak, Professor of Geovisual Analytics and Cartography at the University of Twente. The book is about the processing of the time factor in a map. Kraak was inspired by Charles Minard's classical map that visualizes the disastrous French invasion of Russia in 1812.

"The mapping of changes is a real challenge. Many of our existing systems are very good at dealing with the what and the where, but not yet with the when", according to Kraak. Mapping Time is inspired by what, according to many, is best map of the world ever: Minard's Map. This map visualizes the disastrous French invasion of Russia over time: Napoleon's Russian campaign of 1812. With this hand-drawn map, Minard visualized both the movement of the army and the dramatic decrease in the number of soldiers. Kraak vowed to improve Minard's map inspired by a combination of both professional and personal interests since Minard's map actually contains a piece of family history. Gerrit Janz Kraak, his great-great-grandfather's uncle served in the French army. During the harsh retreat, he was killed at the crossing of the Berezina on 27 November 1812.

Kraak took a six-month sabbatical to write the book. During that period, he covered the entire campaign route. In answer to the question whether he has managed to improve Minard's map, Kraak replies. "The perfect map does not actually exist. Whether it is a good map depends on the questions you want to see answered on a map."

Kraak previously wrote a textbook in the field of cartography that is used internationally. It has, for example, been translated into Chinese, Russian, and Indonesian. Kraak expects that Mapping Time will also be ultimately be used as a textbook. The book contains a combination of historical and geographical analyses with cartographic visualizations of changes to maps over time. Mapping Time is illustrated with more than 100 informative full-colour graphics.

About the author

Menno-Jan Kraak started at the faculty of Geo-Information Science and Earth Observation (ITC) as professor of cartography in 1996. He is currently head of the department of Geo-Information Processing at the University of Twente ITC faculty. In addition, he is vice-president of the International Cartographic Association. His fascination with maps emerged as a child on his grandfather's lap: "My grandfather could not travel himself, but with his stories took me, with the atlas on his lap, to many countries around the world."

Note for the press

For more information, please contact our UT Science Information Officer Jochem Vreeman (+31 (0) 612221253).


previous page
more news

  1. Home »
  2. Organisation »