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On The Map: Why the world looks the way it does [Kindle Edition]

Simon Garfield
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (104 customer reviews)

Print List Price: £9.99
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Book Description

Maps fascinate us. They chart our understanding of the world and they log our progress, but above all they tell our stories. From the early sketches of philosophers and explorers through to Google Maps and beyond, Simon Garfield examines how maps both relate and realign our history.

With a historical sweep ranging from Ptolemy to Twitter, Garfield explores the legendary, impassable (and non-existent) mountains of Kong, the role of cartography in combatting cholera, the 17th-century Dutch craze for Atlases, the Norse discovery of America, how a Venetian monk mapped the world from his cell and the Muppets' knack of instant map-travel. Along the way are pocket maps of dragons, Mars, murders and more, with plenty of illustrations and prints to signpost the route.

From the bestselling and widely-adored author of Just My Type, On The Map is a witty and irrepressible examination of where we've been, how we got there and where we're going.

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Product Description


Praise for Just My Type

'Every so often someone writes a book about an obscure subject and uses it to illuminate the rest of the world... this is one of the best

(William Leith Evening Standard)

After being walked through these stories, it's difficult to even look at a cereal packet in the same way again (Observer)

This is a smart, funny, accessible book that does for typography what Truss's Eats, Shoots & Leaves did for punctuation (New York Times)

Advance Praise for On the Map: Just when you think there have been enough books written on maps, the best one comes along (Patrick Neale, Booksellers' Choice The Bookseller)

Will no doubt dominate the Christmas market (Emma Herdman, Booksellers' Choice The Bookseller)

Simon Garfield had great success with Just My Type, so looks certain to repeat this with On the Map. (Sarah Clarke, Booksellers' Choice The Bookseller)

There couldn't be anyone better to write about our love of maps than Simon Garfield, who is a master at unearthing strange facts and mixing them with a lively personal narrative . . . fascinating (Giles Foden Condé Nast Traveller 2012-11-01)

Garfield has a genius for being sparked to life by esoteric enthusiasm and charming readers with his delight. (Iain Finlayson Times 2012-10-06)

Simon Garfield's new book is a rollicking sweep through map history, packed with curiosities and written with verve . . . On the Map will inspire you to take a trip to somewhere new, buy an antique globe to chart the rise and fall of empires, or just dig out a tatty orange Ordnance Survey Explorer map and let its filigree of contour lines evoke a long-forgotten walk in the rain . . . a great book. (Mark Wilson Independent on Sunday 2012-10-07)

A stunning celebration of the cartographic. As one of the UK's leading contemporary polymaths, Garfield's always a joy to read for his gossamer-light show of rigorous learning, his shed-dweller precision in research and his infectious glee in passing on the golden nugget of fact. (Robert Bound Monocle 2012-10-01)

Garfield's genial prose twinkles with the delight of discovery (Tom Hawker Wanderlust 2012-10-01)

A pub quizzer's dream . . . Rather than over-romanticise the experience of map-reading, Garfield allows his varied, expertly researched stories to speak for themselves, and in so doing helps us see that there are fewer things in life more useful, rewarding and beautiful than a map that does what it's supposed to. Perhaps if Apple had read the book a few months ago, today's iPhone users would have a much better idea of where they're going. (David Clack Daily Telegraph 2012-10-27)

He takes us on a fascinating voyage . . . and is a lively companion for the journey. (Douglas Osler Scotsman 2012-11-03)

He hops around the world, ancient and modern, with glee, dispensing information, both learned and chatty. On the Map is informative and entertaining, and good fun . . . fascinating. (John S Doyle Irish Times 2012-11-03)

Book Description

From Mappa Mundi to Google Maps - the bestselling Just My Type author turns his gaze to maps.

Packed with accompanying map illustrations and images.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 18175 KB
  • Print Length: 468 pages
  • Publisher: Profile Books (4 Oct. 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B009G25P6W
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (104 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #82,849 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
70 of 73 people found the following review helpful
I don't think the author will mind if I say this book is not strictly for cartography academics, but for the more general reader with an interest in maps, mapping, exploration and the like. In this regard it succeeds admirably, using a breezy style to whisk you through a potted history of the subject which is easy to read and understand. I have to confess that there was a fair bit in here that was already familiar to me and would also be familiar to anyone with an interest in maps already. For example there isn't much in the chapter on the Ordnance Survey that isn't in Map of a Nation: A Biography of the Ordnance Survey but nevertheless it is still worth reading within the context of this book. having said that I wasn't aware of the The Mountains of Kong - `a Chain of Great Mountains' - which appeared on James Rennell's map in 1798 and didn't actually exist, so there is something for everyone here.
Split into short and sharp chapters this is a book that lends itself equally to a solid read through, or as a book to pick through as and when you get the chance. Lavishly illustrated, as the saying goes, I would caution anyone thinking of getting this on Kindle that these illustrations and maps don't reproduce well on the Kindle itself but are fine if using a tablet or the Kindle App on a laptop
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars disappointing 4 July 2013
By A keen reader VINE VOICE
There are two things which let this book down. Firstly, the writing. Although the writer has obviously spent a lot of time on research, he doesn't make the stories come alive. Most of the chapters are just a little bit boring. Secondly, the presentation. The lousy paper quality really puts me off, and there's no excuse for it. But the main problem with the presentation is the very poor quality of the reproductions. This is partly caused by the cheap paper and partly by reproducing colourful maps in black and white -- it takes away all the magic of the originals. Putting one colour map in the front doesn't make up for it.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Well written but badly illustrated 19 Sept. 2013
The short chapters are engagingly written, tell a good story and are easy to read, but a book about maps cries out for images, and this book is let down by both the size and the quality of the pictures which are far too small and indistinct, often crammed into a corner of the page so that they become unreadable. As others have commented, the printing is further let down by the poor quality paper used. Not only are the maps too small and badly reproduced, there are not enough: whole pages describe important maps without any illustration to show what the author is trying to convey.

I have enjoyed reading this book so gave it three stars, but don't buy it if you need the maps to visualise the story.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A very human portrait of maps 6 Nov. 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
In writing a book with the ambitious remit of summarising the history of cartography from Eratosthenes to Google maps, Garfield has clearly undertaken a prodigious amount of research and has successfully captured the allure of maps and the insight they provide into the societies and times that created them.

The particular strength of this work is in the author's evocation of the human story behind maps, be it the early voyages of Da Gama , Columbus, Marco Polo or Vespucci or the tragic but darkly comical tale of Burke and Wills's exploration of Australia. Especially compelling in this respect is the recount of Snow's mapping of a Victorian cholera outbreak in which cartography is used to confirm beyond doubt, for the first time, that cholera was a water born pathogen rather miasmic.

The book also vividly depicts the lives as well as the works of the creators of the A-Z atlas and the London Underground map. The inventor of the former, Phyllis Pearsall is depicted as a driven woman desperately seeking to restore the reputation of her bankrupt father. The creator of the latter, Harry Beck, is shown to be a forward thinker with a sense of humour, parodying his own work in a manner which has become common place subsequent to his death and established a link between cartography and pop art.

This well researched book appeals to both the geographer and the layperson, covering such diverse subjects as: the comparative mapping abilities of men and women, the role of maps in Empire building and imperial control, politics and the prosecution of the Second World War .The impact of new technologies is imaginatively discussed, with the advent of GPS increasingly leading to an egocentric form of mapping.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Neither entertaining nor informative 17 Mar. 2014
By Ian C
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Having read a popular science book or history book, I like to feel that I have learnt something useful or have been amusingly diverted for a few hours. Unfortunately, this book did neither for me.

For example, there is probably no more important topic in the history of map making than the Mercator projection. However, rather than try to explain how the projection works and how it was developed, this book merely states that it happened. Likewise with triangulation. It is described as a way of measuring distances using trigonometry, but doesn't try to explain how it works.

This could have been forgiven if the book were more entertaining, but the author really seemed to be struggling to fill up space - resorting in some of the later chapters to the tours of celebrity homes in Hollywood and the worlds created by computer games.

Overall, this struck me as a book by someone who had the topic recommended to him by his publisher and not one written by a man who knows and loves his subject.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating, easy read
A good summary of the maps that have defined the human race from ancient times right through to the future. Very well written in an easy read style. Read more
Published 2 days ago by Dr. Dr. McGrath
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Great service.
Published 14 days ago by Davidyiken
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Good read, although in parts tedious because of the large amount of information
Published 3 months ago by Stephanie Andrews
5.0 out of 5 stars If you love maps then you will love this book.
This is probably one of the best books I have read for a long time.
Published 6 months ago by H. Jones
5.0 out of 5 stars Garfield does what all great and passionate geeks do
Garfield does what all great and passionate geeks do. He takes on his subject and dives right into the depths of it with child like enthusiasm and then emerges with a bounty of... Read more
Published 7 months ago by keen reader
2.0 out of 5 stars Two Stars
Disappointing quality of map reproduction surely the entire reason for producing such a book?
Published 7 months ago by Wilsons Child
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
I am very pleased with my purchase.
Published 8 months ago by Mrs Lynda Lawrence
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Bought as prezzie & greatly received.
Published 9 months ago by sue ferguson
5.0 out of 5 stars As described and turned up on time.
As described and turned up on time. Does what it says on tin.
Published 10 months ago by stocklec
5.0 out of 5 stars Cute book
Not quite finished it yet but I kept my husband and I amused on holiday. It was very interesting. I can't say much about the content because it is like a map a journey of... Read more
Published 10 months ago by Margaret Foster
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