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A History of the World in 12 Maps Hardcover – Nov 14 2013

4.5 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Hardcover, Nov 14 2013
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Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 544 pages
  • Publisher: Viking (Nov. 14 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0670023396
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670023394
  • Product Dimensions: 16 x 4.6 x 23.6 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 821 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #118,612 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description


“[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.

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I watched this series on TV great series.This is the main reason for my purchase.But the series didn't do the book justice. Ive given a copy as a Xmas girt & recommened this book to at lease 3 of my friends.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I purchased this as a gift & the recipient read it & enjoyed it. It has been passed on twice since and will continue to engage others who are interested in world history.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I really thought there would be more illustrations than there was and less text. The book was definitely the other way around
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0xa548aeb8) out of 5 stars 38 reviews
122 of 130 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa54a8b88) out of 5 stars Better titled "The History of 12 Maps" Feb. 4 2014
By Robert Johnston - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
First paragraph ... I winced at the author's overwrought narrative style ... too many adjectives, adverbs and thesaurus derivatives ... too little Strunk & White editing. I'm perfectly comfortable reading overly complicated narrative but it wastes time wading through it ... I can't help being irritated by the style and so risk missing the substance.

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.
49 of 54 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa54a8dd4) out of 5 stars Fascinating Nov. 14 2012
By Sussman - Published on
Format: Hardcover
To my regret I gave up on geography very early on in Schools days, map reading to me was a real chore and somewhat abstract. It was not until later on in life did I realise that maps could be much more, and the ideas presented by Jerry Brotton book `A History of the World in Twelve Maps'; manages to illustrate in an academic fashion, but not convoluted or highbrow, but rather palatable form the complexities behind maps in terms of their political, economic, social and very philosophical make-up. By looking at the people that put these paradigms together, and their need/reasons, that made put the maps they were working on in the first - but also the ideological pressures behind their decisions.

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.
57 of 65 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa5356030) out of 5 stars Imbalance between the 12 maps selected and supporting material Feb. 10 2013
By Amazon Customer - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The 12 maps Brotton has selected to represent the history of the world is interesting, with ample opportunity to discuss whether his selections are the most important representations of specific cultures. It is interesting to contrast his book with the related BBC series, "Maps: Power, Plunder and Possession" (2010). While Brotton's vast expertise, knowledge, and passion for maps is unquestionable, his book occasionally bogs down under the weight of events supporting the development of each map, but not directly related. IMHO, there is sometimes too much emphasis on politics, at the expense of technological and scientific advances in the art and sciences of geodesy, physics, and cartography. I understand Brotton's choices in this regard; I just feel he could have been more succinct with much of the politics. The result is, in places, a cumbersome narrative. In all, however, Brotton's book is a compelling analysis of maps as artifacts of art, culture, and power, and the way humanity views itself in the world.
37 of 41 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa53561d4) out of 5 stars Thoughtful and rewarding Nov. 8 2012
By Sid Nuncius - Published on
Format: Hardcover
This is a very interesting and beautifully presented book. Jerry Brotton manages to present very scholarly and deeply thoughtful ideas in an accessible way, although you do need to concentrate hard as this is not a filleted digest but a full development of his theses - among them that that maps are political and ideological constructs and say a great deal about their makers and the society they live in as well as about the places they depict.

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
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa53565a0) out of 5 stars Great idea, lacking in execution Dec 13 2014
By now what - Published on
Format: Paperback
While the concept is interesting and the material has great potential, the author failed on several points.

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.