Anne here, and today I'm talking about maps — specifically the maps that you find in historical atlases. By historical atlases, I don't mean old atlases exactly — though you can learn a lot from them, too. I mean maps that have been specifically drawn to illustrate changes in borders, the extent of empires at different periods in time, and so on.
I have a number of historical atlases and it can be very easy to get distracted by the stories that are implicit in the maps. Take for instance these two maps, the first reflecting the situation in Europe in Napoleon's time, and the second after Napoleon was finally defeated and the European borders were redrawn at the Congress of Vienna which took place in 1815 — and no, they didn't simply put the borders back where they had been before Napoleon. (Click on the maps to see an enlarged version.)