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

by Simon Garfield


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Cartography enthusiasts rejoice: the bestselling author of the 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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781592407804
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 11/05/2013
Pages: 464
Sales rank: 310,510
Product dimensions: 5.76(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.18(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Simon Garfield is the author of fourteen acclaimed books of nonfiction including Just My Type. He lives in London and St. Ives, Cornwall.

Table of Contents

For the Love of Maps: Foreword Dava Sobel 11

Introduction: The Map That Wrote Itself 15

1 What Great Minds Knew 21

How the ancient Greeks-Eratosthenes and Ptolemy-first worked out the size and shape of the world and our place upon it.

2 The Men Who Sold the World 42

The day Britain's greatest cartographic treasure-the medieval Mappa Mundi-went to the auction houses to fix a leaky roof.

It's 1250, Do You Know Where You Are? 58

3 The World Takes Shape 63

The world centers on Jerusalem-and the Poles appear.

Here Be Dragons 72

4 Venice, China and a Trip to the Moon 75

How the Italians became the world's greatest mapmakers, and then the Germans, and then the Dutch. And how a Venetian friar discovered the secrets of the East and ended up on the moon.

5 The Mystery of Vinland 87

Did Norse sailors really reach and map America before Columbus?

Or is the world's most curious map fakery's finest hour?

6 Welcome to Amerigo 103

In which Ptolemy reappears in Europe and America gets named after the wrong man.

California as an Island 121

7 What's the Good of Mercator? 125

How the world looked in 1569-and today, even if the UN still favors the Postel Azimuthal Equidistant.

Keeping It Quiet: Drake's Silver Voyage 135

8 The World in a Book 140

In which the Atlas becomes a craze in seventeenth-century Holland, is adopted by The Times, and then turns to agitprop.

Lions, Eagles and Gerrymanders 160

9 Mapping a Cittee (without forder troble) 167

London gets the map bug, too, pioneers street mapping, and John Ogilby charts the course of every major road in Britannia.

10 Six Increasingly Coordinated Tales of the Ordnance Survey 181

Britain, spurred by Jacobite revolt, makes the Ordnance Survey, extending to India. But what is the symbol for a picnic site?

A Nineteenth-Century Murder Map 200

11 The Legendary Mountains of Kong 204

How an impassable mountain range spread and spread, until a French army officer found it wasn't there.

The Low-down Lying Case of Benjamin Morrell 220

12 The Opening of America and the Gridding of Manhattan 223

How Lewis and Clark filled out the American canvas, and how New York plotted its future.

13 Cholera and the Map that Stopped It 235

How mapping played its part in identifying the cause of the disease.

Across Australia with Burke and Wills 246

14 "X" Marks the Spot: Treasure Island 252

Treasure maps in literature and life.

J.M. Barrie Fails to Fold a Pocket Map 267

15 The Worst Journey in the World to the Last Place to Be Mapped 269

How explorers found the South Pole without a map, and named the region after their families, friends and enemies.

Charles Booth Thinks You're Vicious 288

16 Maps in All Our Hands: A Brief History of the Guidebook 293

The majestic foldout engravings of Murray and Baedeker give way to another cartographic dark age.

The Biggest Map of All: Beck's London Tube 307

17 Casablanca, Harry Potter and Where Jennifer Aniston Lives 313

In which the Muppets perfect travel by map and we stalk the stars.

A Hare-raising Masquerade 324

18 How to Make a Very Big Globe 327

From scratch ... when you used to run a bowling alley.

Churchill's Map Room 347

19 The Biggest Map Dealer, the Biggest Map Thief 352

How tempting are maps-and just what kind of dealers and thieves do they attract?

Women Can't Read Maps. Oh, Really? 366

20 Driving into Lakes: How GPS Put the World in a Box 372

How we learned to watch the dullest in-flight movie ever-and, with GPS, the Dutch once again took over the world's mapping.

The Canals of Mars 385

21 Pass Go and Proceed Directly to Skyrim 394

Maps as games, from jigsaw puzzles to Risk, and why computer games may be the future of cartography.

22 Mapping the Brain 410

What taxi drivers have to offer the world of the neuroscientist.

Epilogue: The Instant, Always-On, Me-Mapping of Everywhere 424

How the Internet changed everything.

Acknowledgments 444

Bibliography 446

Picture Credits 449

Index 450

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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On the Map: A Mind-Expanding Exploration of the Way the World Looks 3.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
GrandpaGuy More than 1 year ago
This should have been an interesting book. I've been a map freak since the fifties. Perhaps reading about maps isn't the same as reading a map? Mr Garfield had plenty of good stories about maps, but they didn't ring my chimes. This was the fifth book out of six that I read while on vacation, was that one too many?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed most of the chapters and the book over all. A good read for map lovers as well as history fans.
MayaMA More than 1 year ago
I rushed out an bought this at a BN store and stopped reading after the first 100 or so pages. The text was interesting, informative and amusing, but the maps to which he referred were illegible. This was extremely disappointing.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was a gift to a friend and he was very pleased to receive it.