This is a slightly updated edition of Peter Whitfield’s 1994 work. Whitfield, who has published similar, image-laden overviews of cartographic and scientific history, offers a learned and accessible introduction to the story of (primarily Western) cartography from classical times to the present. Laudably, this production is an eye-catching book that also serves to acquaint the lay reader with the notion that maps are not just quaint illustrations, but windows into the world of their creation.
The book is a good survey of the history of cartography, but is of little use for in-depth scholarship. Each map is described in detail, but there are no footnotes or reference material for each map; there is a general bibliography for further reading, a list of image credits, and a serviceable index. The illustrations are eye-pleasing, though some are too small to offer any detail, and much information is lost in the crease between pages. Still, Whitfield’s it is a great introductory to the sweep of cartographic history and admirably does the job of presenting maps as more than geographical tools but cultural productions.