The Red Atlas

How the Soviet Union Secretly Mapped the World

John Davies
University of Chicago Press

Many know that the Soviet Military gathered incredible information during the Cold War, but revealed in these pages is evidence that they secretly, and largely successfully, mapped the entire world. In addition to city maps of Oxford, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Shanghai, the Soviets had street level maps of Pontiac, MI, Bristol, PA, Watertown NY, and Galveston, TX. They knew certain parts of the world down to the level of individual buildings. Maps that were recovered from this unparalleled endeavor have details that aren't on domestic maps made around the same time, things like the precise width of roads, the load-bearing capacity of bridges, and the types of factories--information that would be virtually impossible to find out without eyes on the ground. In Cambridge, Soviet maps from the '80s include a scientific research center that didn't appear on Ordnance Survey maps till years later. And a map of Oxford at the same time shows Oxford University Press as a building of interest. Another map of a German city shows the distance from which one can see a lit cigarette, or hear a twig crack. The map of San Diego includes objects of obvious strategic interest--including a submarine base, a naval airbase, ammunition depots, factories that make aircraft and weapons--but also includes notes on public transportation, communications systems, and the height and architecture of buildings in various parts of town. This book presents a catalog of these maps and reveals the never-before-told story of the world's most comprehensive mapping endeavor and, arguably, some of the world's most intriguing maps. Starting with the discovery of the maps in Estonia, and their journey to libraries and private collections the world over, this work illuminates the skills, omnipresence, and ambitions of the Soviet military at the height of its era of espionage.



Russia & the Former Soviet Union



Publication Date: 17 October, 2017
272 pages