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The AAG is pleased to announce the recipients of the three 2018 AAG Book Awards: the John Brinckerhoff Jackson Prize, the AAG Globe Book Award for Public Understanding of Geography, and the AAG Meridian Book Award for Outstanding Scholarly Work in Geography. The AAG Book Awards mark distinguished and outstanding works published by geography authors during the previous year, 2017. The awardees will be formally recognized at the Awards Luncheon during the 2018 AAG Annual Meeting in New Orleans.

The John Brinckerhoff Jackson Prize

This award encourages and rewards American geographers who write books about the United States which convey the insights of professional geography in language that is both interesting and attractive to lay readers.

Picturing AmericaStephen HornsbyPicturing America: The Golden Age of Pictorial Maps (University of Chicago Press, 2017)

Stephen J. HornsbyPicturing America: The Golden Age of Pictorial Maps (University of Chicago Press). A visual feast, Picturing America combines gorgeously reproduced examples of the many types of pictorial maps with erudite yet deft and graceful text. Hornsby defines this previously underappreciated and understudied genre of popular cartography, which he shows to be a mirror of American society from the exuberant, confident 1920s through World War II and the Cold War. He is particularly attentive to the mapmakers, including women, many of them graphic artists, who defied or skirted cartographic convention to create delightful, clever maps that connected immediately with their audience. This book is likely to make an impact beyond the discipline while it contributes to geographers’ and cartographers’ current interest in story maps and emotional, spatial narrative.

Heading OutTerence YoungHeading Out: A History of American Camping (Cornell University Press, 2017)

Terence YoungHeading Out: A History of American Camping (Cornell University Press). This very engaging, clearly written book is based on rich archival sources. Young tells the history of Americans’ love of camping in relation to individuals who shaped its changing ideals and practices. Young’s intellectual framework explains camping’s paradoxical relationship to modernity. The escape from cities that camping represented for many Americans also brought the city to what was perceived as wilderness, through the mediation of camping technologies and campers’ impact on the landscape. The book will appeal to readers of many kinds who like to get away by heading out to nature – and it will help them understand their own impulse and its historical roots.

The AAG Globe Book Award for Public Understanding of Geography

This award is given for a book written or co-authored by a geographer that conveys most powerfully the nature and importance of geography to the non-academic world.

Development Drowned and RebornClyde Woods, Development Drowned and Reborn: the Blues and Bourbon Restorations in Post-Katrina New Orleans edited by Jordan Camp and Laura Pulido, (University of Georgia Press, 2017)

Development Drowned and Reborn, is a stunning re-imagining of black geographies and the immensely complex historical geographies of New Orleans from its origins in the late 18th century to the post-Katrina present. Drawing on a wealth of archival sources to relate the stories of grassroots intellectuals, laborers, farmers, musicians, and leaders of New Orleans’ diverse black communities, this tour-de-force of creativity and scholarship re-interprets the city’s history as a constant interplay between the oppressive, imperialist, and capitalist forces of white supremacist Bourbonism, with what Woods calls the “Blues epistemology,” a worldview and set of practices encompassing freedom, sustainability, community, and beauty through art in the midst of everyday struggles for survival. The resulting book will inspire a new generation of thinking about critical geographies of the past and present.

 The AAG Meridian Book Award for Outstanding Scholarly Work in Geography

This award is given for a book written by a geographer that makes an unusually important contribution to advancing the science and art of geography.

Rare Earth FrontiersJulie Michelle KlingerRare Earth Frontiers: From Terrestrial Subsoils to Lunar Landscapes (Cornell University Press, 2017)

The 2017 AAG Meridian Book Award goes to Julie Michelle Klinger for her superb new book:  Rare Earth Frontiers:  From Terrestrial Subsoils to Lunar Landscapes.   Clearly written and appealing to a wide, general audience, Rare Earth Frontiers lays bare the complex web of relationships involved in the production and consumption of the rare-earth minerals that power a great many technologies upon which we grow increasingly dependent.  These include miniaturized electronics, telecommunication systems, medical technologies, solar energy technologies, and defense systems.  In short, some of our most vital technological systems today would not be possible without minerals such as Dysprosium.

Intensively researched in multiple locations around the globe, and sourced in multiple languages, Rare Earth Frontiers advances the art and science of geography on several levels.  It provides a firm grounding in the physical elements of the geology and production of the minerals, and at the same time it illustrates their crucial role in geopolitics, especially Sino-American relations.  It also explains their role played in what Klinger terms “scarcity myths.”  Perhaps most important, though, is the way that Klinger is able to represent the massive damage done to the environment in the quest for these minerals, and the concomitant damage done to countless humans caught in the web of production.

Moreover, and rare for an academic monograph, Klinger provides her readers with some concrete suggestions for possible ways to ameliorate the situation and outlines an agenda for future research.  Klinger, in the end, asks us to see past the dominant, manipulative narratives of scarcity to learn from history “to build a more just and sustainable future.”  Rare Earth Frontiers will help us to do just that.