On the Map: A Mind-Expanding Exploration of the Way the World Looks

On the Map: A Mind-Expanding Exploration of the Way the World Looks

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by Simon Garfield
     
 

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Cartography enthusiasts rejoice: the bestselling author of Just My Type reveals the fascinating relationship between man and map.

Simon Garfield’s Just My Type illuminated the world of fonts and made everyone take a stand on Comic Sans and care about kerning. Now Garfield takes on a subject even dearer to our fanatical human hearts&

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Overview

Cartography enthusiasts rejoice: the bestselling author of Just My Type reveals the fascinating relationship between man and map.

Simon Garfield’s Just My Type illuminated the world of fonts and made everyone take a stand on Comic Sans and care about kerning. Now Garfield takes on a subject even dearer to our fanatical human hearts: maps.

Imagine a world without maps. How would we travel? Could we own land? What would men and women argue about in cars? Scientists have even suggested that mapping—not language—is what elevated our prehistoric ancestors from ape-dom. Follow the history of maps from the early explorers’ maps and the awe-inspiring medieval Mappa Mundi to Google Maps and the satellite renderings on our smartphones, Garfield explores the unique way that maps relate and realign our history—and reflect the best and worst of what makes us human.

Featuring a foreword by Dava Sobel and packed with fascinating tales of cartographic intrigue, outsize personalities, and amusing “pocket maps” on an array of subjects from how to fold a map to the strangest maps on the Internet, On the Map is a rich historical tapestry infused with Garfield’s signature narrative flair. Map-obsessives and everyone who loved Just My Type will be lining up to join Garfield on his audacious journey through time and around the globe.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Innumerable modes of seeing the world unfold in this exuberant history of maps. Garfield (Just My Type) loosely follows the development of cartography, taking in the precociously scientific geography of the ancient Greeks; medieval England’s Hereford Mappa Mundi, drenched in Christian allegory and teeming with mythical beasts; the Age of Exploration’s heroic maps of newly discovered, sketchily drawn, and wrongly designated landmasses (America got its name from a cartographer’s erroneous belief that Amerigo Vespucci discovered it); the 19th-century map that established cholera as a water-borne disease; modern GPS systems, and video game fantasy maps. Along the way he pursues diverting cartographical anecdotes and oddities, including the centuries-long consensus that California was an island, the lingering conceit that women can’t read maps, and the appearance and disappearance of canals on maps of Mars. Garfield’s coverage of this terrain, lavishly illustrated with reproductions of famous maps, is broad but paper-thin—more a meandering guided tour than a systematic survey. Still, his droll humor and infectious curiosity will keep readers engrossed as he uncovers surprising ways in which maps chart our imaginations as much as they do the ground underfoot. Photos, illus., maps. (Jan.)
From the Publisher
"Mr. Garfield uses cartography as a springboard to similar explorations of how we have viewed not only the world around us, but ourselves." -New York Journal of Books

"His droll humor and infectious curiosity will keep readers engrossed as he uncovers surprising ways in which maps chart our imaginations as much as they do the ground underfoot." -Publishers Weekly

"A fine, fun presentation of the brand of cartography that continues to whet our imaginations." -Kirkus Reviews

“Mr. Garfield's book serves an immense need, connecting the latest geocacher with both the ancient art and modern science of the cartographer. Each may benefit from learning how the other approaches maps. Mr. Garfield uniquely provides that bridge.”
Pittsburgh Post Gazette

“Deep research and descriptive intensity. [Garfield] regales us with tales of such wonders as Britain's medieval Mappa Mundi… On the Mapoffers a world of revelation.” -USA Today

“There is a great deal that is good and charming and fun about this book.” --Washington Post

“Delightfully meandering.” --NPR.org

“Garfield has a knack for creating high-spirited, erudite and user-friendly books on subjects that may seem crashingly dull to all but a few fanatics. . . . Garfield is a terrific guide. . . . “On the Map” is a treasure: exhilarating, witty, compulsively readable and just plain fun.” -The Seattle Times

“Engaging-…full of little conversation pieces” -Janet Maslin, New York Times

“Garfield is a wonderful writer who deploys suspense to excellent effect, making each chapter read like a delightful short story or mini-mystery; what might appear a dusty subject sparkles under his clear-eyed and witty writing.” - Smithsonian Magazine

“engrossing, endlessly fascinating… enlightening and impossible to put down… The length and breadth of his scholarship are staggering, while the witty tone makes for the most convivial of literary guides...an irresistible invitation to see the world, and delivering on his promise of “the map as story, the map as life.” -Booklist Starred Review

“Vastly entertaining.” -Bookpage

Library Journal
Garfield's best-selling Just My Type (2011) was about typefaces. Now he's done the same for maps. The result is not deep history but it is pleasurable history nonetheless: readers will enjoy this romp through 16,000 years of mapmaking, beginning with a hunter's map found in a cave in northern Spain and proceeding all the way to today's GPS, Google Maps, video games, and Me Mapping. Aimed at educated lay readers who want both to nourish their mind and divert it, the book dispenses a good deal of information in the process: the problems the earth's curvature has posed in its representation, how maps reflect national and cultural biases, how maps have been used to solve problems like the spread of cholera in 1854 London, the technical progress made in mapping. "Maps are only human, after all," quips Garfield. VERDICT Readers of popular history will enjoy this entertaining and informative book. This is popular history but not "history light."[See Prepub Alert, 7/22/12.]—David Keymer, Modesto, CA
Kirkus Reviews
A vivid foray into the romance of maps. This is a roughly chronological survey of choice moments in cartography, with Garfield (Just My Type: A Book About Fonts, 2011, etc.) keeping his focus trained on maps that present not just the lay of the land, but that transport and move us--maps that have something to say about who we are at some particular historical point in time. Although he starts with Eratosthenes, Strabo and Ptolemy, the author digs into the mysterious allure of maps after the strange interruption in mapmaking that followed Ptolemy for more than 1,000 years. Longer chapters provide lively histories of great maps, cartographic phantoms like the Mountains of Kong in Africa or the detective work of Dr. Snow's London cholera map. Garfield is equally at ease with treasure maps, where the loot is guarded by dangerous reefs, angry birds and an army of land crabs, or when ruminating on the great blank spots in 19th-century maps of Africa, suggestive of empty territory for the imperial taking. The author punctuates these chapters with colorful cartographic squibs on, for example, Churchill's map room or how Kit Williams' jeweled hare was found (not by a close reading of Williams' book Masquerade). Always present is a concern for how maps touch us: "We may detect the emotional state of the amateur cartographer through the graphite and the nib of hand-drawn markings, and because we know we are witnessing history as it happens." Garfield also looks at maps in the movie Casablanca, which brought us to northwest Africa, how the game Monopoly made us familiar with Atlantic City and how GPS has such a hold on our everyday lives. A fine, fun presentation of the brand of cartography that continues to whet our imaginations.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781592407798
Publisher:
Gotham
Publication date:
12/27/2012
Pages:
464
Product dimensions:
6.04(w) x 8.42(h) x 1.40(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

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What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
"Mr. Garfield uses cartography as a springboard to similar explorations of how we have viewed not only the world around us, but ourselves." —New York Journal of Books

"His droll humor and infectious curiosity will keep readers engrossed as he uncovers surprising ways in which maps chart our imaginations as much as they do the ground underfoot." —Publishers Weekly

"A fine, fun presentation of the brand of cartography that continues to whet our imaginations." —Kirkus Reviews

“Mr. Garfield's book serves an immense need, connecting the latest geocacher with both the ancient art and modern science of the cartographer. Each may benefit from learning how the other approaches maps. Mr. Garfield uniquely provides that bridge.”
Pittsburgh Post Gazette

“Deep research and descriptive intensity. [Garfield] regales us with tales of such wonders as Britain's medieval Mappa Mundi… On the Map offers a world of revelation.” –USA Today

“There is a great deal that is good and charming and fun about this book.” – Washington Post

“Delightfully meandering.” – NPR.org

“Garfield has a knack for creating high-spirited, erudite and user-friendly books on subjects that may seem crashingly dull to all but a few fanatics. . . . Garfield is a terrific guide. . . . “On the Map” is a treasure: exhilarating, witty, compulsively readable and just plain fun.” –The Seattle Times

“Engaging …full of little conversation pieces” –Janet Maslin, New York Times

“Garfield is a wonderful writer who deploys suspense to excellent effect, making each chapter read like a delightful short story or mini-mystery; what might appear a dusty subject sparkles under his clear-eyed and witty writing.” – Smithsonian Magazine

“engrossing, endlessly fascinating… enlightening and impossible to put down… The length and breadth of his scholarship are staggering, while the witty tone makes for the most convivial of literary guides...an irresistible invitation to see the world, and delivering on his promise of “the map as story, the map as life.” –Booklist Starred Review

“Vastly entertaining.” —Bookpage

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