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Cartographies of Time [Paperback]

Daniel Rosenberg
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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Book Description

1 April 2012
What does history look like? How do you draw time? Cartographies of Time is the first history of the timeline, written engagingly and with incredible visuals. The authors, both accomplished writers and historians, sketch the shifting field of graphic representations of history from the beginning of the print age through the present. They shed light on western views of history and on the complex relationship between general ideas about the course of events and the technical efforts to record and connect dates and names in the past. In addition to telling a rich, forgotten story, this book serves as a kind of grammar of historical representation, uncovering the ways in which time has been structured in thought and in images, in the Western tradition. Written for both the academically curious and the general reader, Cartographies of Time provides a set of tools for understanding the evolution and the significance of graphic representations of time both in history and in contemporary culture.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Princeton Architectural Press (1 April 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1616890584
  • ISBN-13: 978-1616890582
  • Product Dimensions: 26.7 x 21.6 x 1.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 126,869 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Authors

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Product Description


"Not all maps get us from A to Z; many chart decades of progress and centuries of change. This is a lavish guide to what makes us human, a sprawling, predominantly hand-drawn collection of infographics showing lyrical and linear ways to mark everything from the development of biblical thought to the spread of empires and the mapping of human sensation. Joseph Priestley's timelines of history and biography anchor themselves firmly in the middle." -- The Guardian (UK)

About the Author

Anthony Grafton is the Henry Putnam University Professor at Princeton University. He has written a number of books on European history, including Defenders of the Text, The Footnote, and What Was History?, and also writes on a wide variety of topics for the New Republic, American Scholar, the New York Review of Books, and the New Yorker. Daniel Rosenberg is associate professor of history at the University of Oregon. He has published widely on history, theory, and art, and his work appears frequently in Cabinet magazine, where he is editor-at-large.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index
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5.0 out of 5 stars Bought as a present 19 Jun 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
But apparently well received and very much enjoyed. It did take a little longer to arrive than expected, but it was nearly Christmas when we ordered it, so this is unsurprising and probably our own fault.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars excellent! 23 Nov 2012
By bob
this is a splendid book - delightful, insightful, fun and educational. I use it in my uni research, and i think this spans so many fields, it should be included in many courses.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.1 out of 5 stars  11 reviews
92 of 97 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Warning: most illustrations are not in focus 4 July 2011
By N. Hyland - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
It is with much regret that I must report that an otherwise excellent book has a major production flaw.
As far as I can tell, it appears that the author's provided scanned images of many ancient documents to the designer at Princeton Architectural Press. The layout and type is all excellent. But, it looks like the majority of images were not properly sharpened in Photoshop (a standard procedure when using scanned images) before being imported into InDesign (or possibly QuarkXPress) for the production of the book. There are a few images that are sharp. They appear to be taken with a digital camera or are more modern timelines converted directly from EPS vector files for the layout. In one example you can see the original scan, fuzzy, and next to it a sharpened close up of a part of the very same image.
If it is not a problem with the designer doing sharpening of images, than it is some kind of problem with the printer overseas either using the wrong image data or un-sharpening the images in some way.
It does not appear to be a screen alignment issue or something physically done wrong in printing. (Although, on a few signatures, the text is foggy but I think that is the ink thinning out - a consequence, perhaps, of Princeton Architectural Press saving money by going to overseas for printing.)
Why do sharp illustrations matter in this book? Because it is all about very detailed graphs. It is nearly useless because one cannot make out any of the details in the images printed in the book.
Really a shame that this disaster happened. The designer and the editor should have caught this in the proofs and corrected it before publication. If it was entirely the printer's fault (it is could be) then Princeton Architectural Press has a good cause to go back to the printer and find out what happened and hopefully, the printer will redo it if it was the output or printer's mistake.
The book would only be worth buying if very deeply discounted. If recalled and reprinted properly, I would give it 5 stars. It is otherwise a fascinating book.
56 of 59 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A History of Histories Flowing on the Page 9 Jun 2010
By R. Hardy - Published on
"While historical texts have long been subject to critical analysis, the formal and historical problems posed by graphic representations of time have largely been ignored." So starts an impressive illustrated book _Cartographies of Time: A History of the Timeline_ (Princeton Architectural Press) by Daniel Rosenberg and Anthony Grafton. The reason the timeline is ignored is that it seems so obvious - plot historic trends on a line, the earlier ones on one end leading to later ones on the other. It is such a simple idea that it is a surprise that we didn't know about it as soon as we started putting marks on paper. Yet there is a history of the development of such lines, and it is fascinating how the lines caught on once people started charting history on paper. That such graphic histories are useful seems obvious; they have the potential for giving visual form to historical flow, and for showing connections of one trend to another. There are plenty of serious charts of time shown here that conscientiously do just that. There are other charts, just as serious, that have been designed to show, for instance, how Jesus is going to return in 1843, and there are idiosyncratic charts by Dadaists which show not much of anything but in a highly complex fashion. The book is most entertaining when it looks at these oddities, but there is nothing like it to show our progress at taking graphic time seriously.

The antecedent of the timeline was probably the lists and tables giving a chronology of rulers and important events. Family trees lent themselves to chronological display, although many of the ones here are so complicated that it is hard to see the years ticking by. By far the most important name here is Joseph Priestley, whose experiments in chemistry helped in understanding what oxygen did and whose religious beliefs forced him to flee to America to avoid persecution. He was the inventor of the time map as we know it. One of his charts produced here is _A Chart of Biography_ (1765) showing a horizontal line for each scientist on the chart (the chart shown concerns those involved in investigating vision, light, and color, but there was a more extensive chart that showed artists, statesmen, historians, and more). Each line starts on the birth year and ends on the death year of each scientist. Elegant and effective, it was a watershed: "Though it followed centuries of experimentation, it was the first chart to present a complete and fully theorized visual vocabulary for a time map, and the first to successfully compete with the matrix as a normative structure for representing regular chronology." Many of the charts here are direct descendants of Priestley's, and many of them are designed to push a particular religious view. The millennial views of an imminent apocalypse in the nineteenth century combined with cheap printing rates produced many strange charts, some starting with the seven days of creation and ending, as they say, "in the not so distant future." Among the charts shown here is a representation of history up to 1843; that was the date when the followers of the New England minister William Miller predicted the Apocalypse, and history was to end then, so the chart did, too. His followers were disappointed that the end did not come in 1843, and when it did not come even in 1844 it was clear that there was some error, and, the authors say tactfully, "both Miller's predictions and his chronology charts had to be radically revised." There were other charts afterwards to show a later year for the end; at least some learned the lesson that no such end is predictable, and those who thought it still predictable were not so bold as to put a date on it.

This book is filled with gorgeous color pictures of the charts. It must be said that some of the pictures are just too small, but this seems unavoidable when some of these charts were huge, more than fifty feet long. Many are crammed with words, too, and so we should probably thank the authors for reading them for us and then reproducing them in a way that offers no temptation for us to scan them from beginning to end. The ones that can be read are fascinating, like the Marconi Telegraph chart that shows the time and position of transatlantic steamers for April 1912, by which it could be seen which ones ought to have been near enough the _Titanic_ to help her out. Buckminster Fuller produced a chart in 1943 to show how the world was about to have a technological revolution that would end war and poverty. Closer to accurate is the simple graph by Gordon Moore, the famous "Moore's Law" which shows the inexorable increase of speed of computing as time goes by, and has proved to be surprisingly accurate. Mark Twain had a chart that was part of his history game, and there were other games that were graphic ways to help remember important historic dates and events. There are not only timelines but time circles, and in one case a time dragon from 1672. There are brilliant time maps and silly ones, ones based on facts and some based only on artistic interpretation. Collected in this handsome volume, they make a rich show of graphics and of our attempts to make sense of history.
25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Cartographies of Time - By Anthony Grafton and Daniel Rosenberg 15 Nov 2010
By M.J.Blackam - Published on
"Cartographies of Time" is an in-depth review of the use of timelines in history. The subject matter is well researched and examined with thoroughness. This is a nice book to hold and handle, and should be pleasing to those with an interest in maps, timelines, and the historical techniques of presenting chronologies and events. I think it would also be of use to people with a graphic persuasion who are looking at novel ways of presenting historical summaries or timelines on poster presentations - not because it is an instructional (far from it) but because it presents a wealth of timeline examples from history that I found inspiring. The book is not without fault, and two things deserve comment: firstly, the format of the book is not large enough to do full justice to the beautiful graphics (I spent plenty of time with a magnifying glass!); and secondly the page layout leads to text that is a few points too small for my liking, and lots of large space without print. These are fairly minor points though, and the content and scope of the book outweighs them. I mention them in the hope that a later edition in a larger format would do better justice to the impressive content. In summary, this is a really nice book that is pleasant to flip through or to read. An improved format would easily get 5 out of 5, but this time it's a 4 to 4 and a half.
M.J.Blackam, Melbourne, Australia.
28 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Magnificent Book 1 Aug 2010
By Harris M. - Published on
I recognize that this review will not be very "helpful" to Amazon buyers but I don't think that I can improve upon Mr. Hardy's assessment.

All I will add is that if you are interested in either history or graphic design (or, preferably, both) you simply must own this book.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful book flawed by inadequate trim size 9 Dec 2011
By W. Frederick Zimmerman - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is a beautiful book with an incredible wealth of fascinating timelines illustrated. Unfortunately, the book is fatally compromised by the publisher's business requirement to print the book in an affordable trim size. I am 50 years old and near sighted and I simply cannot read most of the type on the illustrations. I see this as a symptom of a fundamental problem of modern publishing in which publishers have gradually accepted more and more compromises in readability without fully accounting for the degree to which the value of the book is diminished. Remember form follows function. For poster sized illustrations with body size type to be readable in a print and bound book, it must be atlas sized, if this makes the per copy price very, very high. This actually fits with trends in the publishing industry ... hardcover books increasingly must be distinguished from ebooks by their value as bespoke artifacts. Publishers of illustrated books should embrace this trend.
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