Human Geography. 4th ed.


436 pages
Contains Photos, Illustrations, Maps, Bibliography, Index
ISBN 0-19-541641-4
DDC 304.2




Reviewed by J.H. Galloway

J.H. Galloway is a professor of geography at the University of Toronto.


This is a handsome new edition of a well-known introduction to the study
of human geography, intended for first-year university students. There
are excellent maps and many beautiful photographs, and the pages are
splendidly designed. The skilful use of subheadings emphasizes the
organization of the discussion; tables and “boxes” (in which
particular concepts or examples receive special attention) are well
integrated with the text. The use of color is impressive. Oxford
University Press has done William Norton proud, making his book a fine
example of the book designer’s art.

The volume deserves this careful presentation. Norton provides a
balanced introduction to a discipline that has seen a good deal of
divisive debate in recent years. His own position becomes clear:
critical of some of the older approaches, such as environmental
determinism and regional geography; cautious about some of the recent
departures derived from postmodernism and postcolonialism; most at home
in a middle ground where location theory is the foundation of research
methodology. He begins his book with the origins of the Western
tradition in geography—that is, with the Greeks—and then moves
quickly through the history of geography to the present. He continues
with a sequence of chapters, each devoted to a different aspect of the
subject. In clear language, mercifully free of jargon, he carefully
leads the reader through the discussion. There is no hint of
condescension. Norton concludes each chapter with a summary, a statement
of “links to other chapters,” and a list of books for “further
explorations.” At the end of the book is a very useful glossary.

Inevitably, in a book with such scope, readers will find points where
they disagree or where they would have given different emphasis (for
example, some would argue that environmental factors rather than
religious beliefs explain certain food avoidances). And there are errors
on some maps (Islam has the wrong color code on page 198, and Mauritius,
which has its own box on page 152, does not appear on the world map that
serves as frontispiece). But caveats aside, this fourth edition is a
very fine introduction to human geography.


Norton, William., “Human Geography. 4th ed.,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 19, 2024,