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The Grim Reaper's road map
An atlas of mortality in Britain

Mary Shaw, Bethan Thomas, George Davey Smith, Daniel Dorling
Paperback, 272 pages, 303 x 240 mm
Other formats available
20 Oct 2008
Health and Society series


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North America customers can order this book here from the University of Chicago Press.

"Visually it is stunning. I expect that it will become an important reference point for years to come."
Kate Woodthorpe, OU, in Ageing & Society, Vol 29, 2009.
"With the increasing emphasis on working together in partnership to reduce health inequalities, boost life expectancy and reduce mortality rates from the 'big killer' diseases, the potentially awkward subject of death and its causes is of growing interest to an ever wider audience. Whatever their background, readers will find The Grim Reaper's road map a gentle and fascinating introduction to the topic."
LariaNews, Feb 2009
"The use of cartograms has been pioneered in the UK by Professor Danny Dorling and much of the inspiration for this report comes from his book ‘The Grim Reaper’s Road Map: An atlas of mortality in Britain’. It adds a unique perspective, showing maps where the area is proportional to the resident population rather than the geographical area, in contrast to conventional maps where urban centres that are represented by small geographical areas contain substantial resident populations. "
Chief Medical Officer Annual Report 2012
"One small island; such diversity. The remarkable geographical differences in health in Britain are beautifully displayed in these stunning maps. It makes clear how potent are the effects on health of the environment in which people carry on their lives."
Michael Marmot, Director International Institute for Society and Health, University College London

About This Book

This impressive full-colour atlas, with over 100 colour-coded and accessible maps, uniquely presents the geography of death in Britain. The first atlas published on this subject for over two decades, this book presents data from more than 14 million deaths over a 24-year period in Britain. The maps detail over 100 separate categories of cause of death, including various cancers, suicides, assault by firearms, multiple sclerosis, pneumonia, hypothermia, falls, and Parkinson's disease, and show how often these occurred in different neighbourhoods. Accompanying each map is a detailed description and brief geographical analysis - the number of people who have died due to each cause, the average age of death and ratio of male to female deaths are listed. Taken as a whole, these provide a comprehensive overview of the geographical pattern of mortality in Britain. This atlas will be essential reading for academics and students of social medicine, sociology of health and illness and epidemiology. It will also be valuable for anyone who wants a better understanding of patterns of mortality within Britain, including medical and healthcare practitioners, policy makers and researchers.

Author Biography

Mary Shaw is Reader in Medical Sociology in the Department of Social Medicine at the University of Bristol. She has published extensively in the field of health inequalities and is an active proponent of the use of photography in social science. Bethan Thomas is a researcher in the Department of Geography at the University of Sheffield. Her research interests include the social geography of Great Britain, social and health inequalities and visualisation methods. George Davey Smith is Professor of Clinical Epidemiology in the Department of Social Medicine at the University of Bristol. His research interests span socioeconomic differentials in health, lifecourse influences on chronic disease in adulthood, AIDS/HIV prevention in India and meta-analysis. Danny Dorling is Professor of Human Geography at the University of Sheffield. His research aims to understand and map the changing social, political and medical geographies of Britain and further afield, concentrating on social and spatial inequalities to life chances and how these may be narrowed.


All deaths
Mental disorder
Individual causes of death


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