Ellen Semple's 'Influences of Geographic Environment' (1911) - a treatise on what would later be called environmental determinism - coincided with the emergence of geography as an independent academic discipline in North America and Britain. Highly controversial and written by one of America's first female professional geographers, it was considered by some a monument to Semple's scholarship and erudition, whilst for others it was conceptually flawed. And yet its influence on the development and direction of the new discipline of geography was profound. Innes Keighren explains why 'Influences' was encountered differently by different people, at different times and in different places, and reveals why the book aroused the passions it did. The result is a pioneering work that provides a wholesale re-visioning of the way in which geographical knowledge is disseminated.