Two University of Wisconsin Oshkosh emeritus geography professors joined forces on a new comprehensive yet accessible book about the state’s landforms, cultures and people.
Wisconsin’s “dean of geography” John Cross wrote the text and provided many of the photos while Kazimierz Zaniewski created the unique and informative thematic maps found throughout The Geography of Wisconsin, which was published in May by the University of Wisconsin Press.
The UWO colleagues worked for several years on the book that fills a need for an up-to-date geographic survey of all aspects of Wisconsin for a broad audience of students and scholars alike.
“The Geography of Wisconsin is a tour de force—a must-have for anyone interested in the state’s prehistoric and contemporary environmental and human landscapes,” said Christopher R. Laingen, author of American Farms, American Food. “This book will stand the test of time as one of the most important contributions to geographic study written about the Badger state.”
Cross said the book is organized similarly to a geography of Wisconsin course that he taught at UWO for about a decade, covering the state’s physical landscape, climate, settlement, agriculture, transportation, manufacturing, urbanization, cultural landscapes and demographics as well as recreation and tourism.
“There is a huge variety of things we talk about in the book,” he said. “Geography focuses on where things are and why they are so located.”
Zaniewski said he always remembers a former professor saying that geography is an “integrated science with a spatial perspective.”
He said the first map in the book may offer readers some surprising information as Wisconsin’s location on the globe is equally distant from the equator and the North Pole and centrally located in North America.
Another map by Zaniewski depicted a more accurate accounting of agricultural settlements in Wisconsin between 1840 and 1920 than has been described in the past, which was created by using data about the establishment of post offices in the state.
Cross and Zaniewski are quick to point out that The Geography of Wisconsin depicts the state as it was before COVID-19 arrived and some geographic factors have changed, especially related to the tourism industry. They added that only time will tell if those changes remain post pandemic.
Cross, who retired from UWO in early 2020, also is the author of Ethnic Landscapes of America. Zaniewski, who retired in 2019, is coauthor of World Regional Geography, The Internationalization of European Sports Teams and the Issue of National Citizenship, and Atlas of Ethnic Diversity in Wisconsin.