A History of the World in 12 Maps Hardcover – Nov 14 2013
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“[A] rewarding journey for the intellectually intrepid.”
“If there’s a single takeaway from this fascinating and richly illustrated book, it’s that mapmaking is perennially contentious.”
—The Daily Beast
“A stimulating and thought-provoking study of how the mixing of science, politics, and even religion influenced and continues to influence cartography.”
“This history of 12 epoch-defining maps—including Google’s—is a revelation… Brotton offers an excellent guide to understanding these influential attempts at psychogeographical transcendence.”
—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Maps allow the armchair traveler to roam the world, the diplomat to argue his points, the ruler to administer his country, the warrior to plan his campaigns and the propagandist to boost his cause. In addition, they can be extraordinarily beautiful… All these facets are represented in British historian Jerry Brotton’s rich A History of the World in 12 Maps.”
—Wall Street Journal
“Author Jerry Brotton's book dips into maps spanning millenia of human experience, from Ptolemy's Geography (circa 150 AD) all the way up to Google Earth, the dynamic, increasingly omnipresent Internet Age way that we answer the age-old question "Where am I?" …Along the way, he finds some marvelous things.”
—Christian Science Monitor
About the Author
Jerry Brotton is Professor of Renaissance Studies at Queen Mary University of London and a leading expert in the history of maps and Renaissance cartography. His most recent book, The Sale of the Late King’s Goods: Charles I and His Art Collection (2006), was short-listed for the Samuel Johnson Prize as well as the Hessell-Tiltman History Prize. He lives in London.See all Product Description
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
If you can get past the overwrought writing style, you might think that the cartographer author would have taken a lesson from his own history and replaced words with sketches and notes. Every map discussed would be improved by the authors own sketch rather than 1000 words. One would expect a map book to be well illustrated but this one is not. The 5' long Hereford Mappa Mundi for example is deconstructed in narrative fashion. If the author had photographed his chosen maps ... imaged them with the best camera available... and then described them with side by side sketches, translations and notes, the book would be 100% better.
Cartography is a reading hobby for me and there are better books. The 12 maps the author chose are interesting, but by comparison, the author makes much ado ... way to much ado, over these.
I paid $26 for the book expecting quality maps illustrations and drawings as Kindle doesn't do maps well. As there are so few maps in this hardback, and the few maps that are here are dark, illegible, and downright terrible ... if you think that you must read the book, save the hardcopy money, buy the Kindle and use wiki to bring in the higher fidelity original images this author should have included in his book.
p.s. I write reviews to help consumers cut through the publishers representations and call the book as I see it. The "no" vote this review got the day after I wrote it is typical of the publisher/author money making side of the transaction punishing a less than flattering review and hiding behind an anon "No" vote with no comments. These aren't going to make the work any better. I would have preferred to write a glowing review that might attract more readers to this arcane subject. But ... I said it's "OK" ... it' is just as easily tipped to 2 stars= I don't like it but give it the benefit of doubt because I want to see more authors writing great books in this genre.
I give two broad examples; firstly the way in which European nations fought over Africa in the 19th and 20th century's used their cultural and diplomatic bias to 'carve up' the so called `Dark Continent', these boundaries and so called countries within Africa are still reeling from effects of these map makers. There is Hitler's use of Maps, to help prescribe the need for 'Lebensraum' - Living Space in the East and claims over Sudetenland. His use of maps to attain further concessions from those in Europe who thought they could somehow placate him through diplomatic appeasement. Ultimately Hitler had map in mind for Europe and much larger Germany at its center.
Mr Brotton's book is not necessarily a light read, but I found it fascinating, it throws out interesting ideas and concepts. Maps are not boring dusty items but full of information that may not always be self-evident; as one reviewer put it succinctly an `intelligent read' and I would recommend it.
Dense and somewhat challenging but well worth the effort is probably the closest I can get to an overall description of the book, so if you like a thoroughly intelligent read which will make you think about things you hadn't really considered before, this is definitely for you
I must agree with other comments regarding the quality of the maps: not good.
Also, the discussions of the maps do little to help the reader understand what he/she is seeing when looking at the map. The Kangnido map is a good example. On pages 118-119, the author makes a number of statements about details included in the map. Yet looking at the map as presented in the book, it is impossible to find any of them. A "recognizable" Iberian Peninsula? Not in the book I bought. A phonetic rendering of "Alemania?" I can't see it. Alexandria "represented by a pagoda-shaped object?" Not visible.
Maybe this is only a portion of the map, but if it is, then say so. As presented the map and the discussion of it are frustratingly disconnected.
The rest of the book is the same. In addition, the author tends to get wound up in minutiae to the detriment of the overall narrative.
I got this book as a gift, and it had been marked down to $11.99. It may be worth that, but I really wouldn't buy it myself at that price.
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