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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent
It was only following the publication of the 'Peters Projection Map' in the 1970s, which claimed to be a good, fair, and non-racist view of the world, that it occurred to me that maps, atlases and the like could be concocted for reasons other than wish to make a true and accurate representation of the route from a to b.

In his wonderfully interesting book 'A...
Published 16 months ago by Stromata

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40 of 44 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Just because there's a wealth of information, doesn't mean that the book is any good
I don't like to write negative reviews of a product, especially books, but I was really struggling to find any redeeming features in A History of the World in Twelve Maps. The book starts with a very wordy introduction that incorporates philosophy, the Classics, theology and different creation myths, etymology and history, as well as a glaring editorial error that should...
Published 15 months ago by Petra Bryce


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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very interesting but a challenging read, 5 Jan 2013
By 
David J. Kelly (Scotland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: A History of the World in Twelve Maps (Hardcover)
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I found the subject matter of this book to be of great interest and it probably says more about me than it does the author that I found this a challenging read. The concept is that for as long as people have been producing maps of the world they have put their own cultural spin on those maps. Whether it is the ancient Babylonian stone tablet that starts the book where the centre of the world is Babylon, the Hereford mappa mund which has Jerusalem as its pivot through to the controversial Peters projection which sought to address the Eurocentric, "imperialist" bias of the standard Mercator projection in the 1960s and 1970s.

Brotton is really good at explaining the geometry of the production of maps and how the various map makers through history used the latest advances in science and technology to map the world. He also charts the development of the "science" of geography and of how the cultural norms and ideologies of the map makers influence their maps. The book takes us all the way through to Google earth and the readily available geo-images we now have access to on our tablets and smart phones.

This is a well written book, explaining the advances in map making and their results and bringing out the personalities and biographies of the cartographers. As I said, it probably says more about me that in some of the more technical passages I found myself losing concentration and the book took me longer to finish than many of the historical books I have read. I found, however, that it was actually worth the effort.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating, 26 Dec 2012
By 
Peter J Godliman (Slough) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: A History of the World in Twelve Maps (Hardcover)
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This book places the skill and commitment of map-makers to the fore. It captures the role of maps, from their earliest forms right up to the present day digital format. Illustrations serve as a fine accompaniment to the text.
A History of the World In Twelve Maps is not an easy read because it tackles an unusual subject matter in an intellectual style. However, if you stick with it, it is a fascinating subject matter, that is thoroughly well written.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very Interesting, 15 Nov 2012
By 
Sussman "Sussman" (London CA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: A History of the World in Twelve Maps (Hardcover)
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To my regret I gave up on geography very early on in Schools days, map reading to me was a real chore and somewhat abstract. It was not until later on in life did I realise that maps could be much more, and the ideas presented by Jerry Brotton book `A History of the World in Twelve Maps'; manages to illustrate in an academic fashion, but not convoluted or highbrow, but rather palatable form the complexities behind maps in terms of their political, economic, social and very philosophical make-up. By looking at the people that put these paradigms together, and their need/reasons, that made put the maps they were working on in the first - but also the ideological pressures behind their decisions.

I give two broad examples; firstly the way in which European nations fighting over Africa in the 19th and early 20th century's used their cultural and diplomatic bias to `carve up' the so called `Dark Continent', these boundaries and so called countries within Africa are still reeling from effects of these map makers. There is Hitler's use of Maps, to help prescribe the need for `Living Space in the East'. His use of maps to attain further concessions from those in Europe who thought they could somehow placate him through diplomatic appeasement. Ultimately Hitler had map in mind for Europe and much larger Germany at its centre.

Mr Brotton's book is not necessarily a light read, but I found it fascinating, it throws out interesting ideas and concepts. Maps are not boring dusty items but full of information that may not always be self-evident; as one reviewer put it succinctly an `intelligent read' and I would recommend it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Thoughtful and rewarding, 8 Nov 2012
By 
Sid Nuncius (London) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: A History of the World in Twelve Maps (Hardcover)
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I agree with the enthusiastic reviews here. This is a very interesting and beautifully presented book with lovely illustrations. Jerry Brotton manages to present very scholarly and deeply thoughtful ideas in an accessible way, although you do need to concentrate hard as this is not a filleted digest but a full development of his theses - among them that that maps are political and ideological constructs and say a great deal about their makers and the society they live in as well as about the places they depict.

Dense and somewhat challenging but well worth the effort is probably the closest I can get to an overall description of the book, so if you like a thoroughly intelligent read which will make you think about things you hadn't really considered before, this is definitely for you
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Maps as socially- and ideologically-constructed views of the world, 4 Nov 2012
By 
Roman Clodia (London) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: A History of the World in Twelve Maps (Hardcover)
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In this authoritative history of geography and cartography, Brotton makes the point that maps are always socially and ideologically constructed views of the world - they are always contingent, and never culturally-neutral.

Starting with Greek investigations into a scientific methodology to map the world onto two planes and ending with Google Earth, this is a fascinating read which answers questions I would never have even begun to formulate for myself.

Do be aware that this is a dense and detailed read, as might be expected from a University of London professor - it is very accessible, and you don't need to know anything about geography or mapping, but at the same time it's not a dumbed-down easy read.

There's no intrusive scholarly apparatus like footnotes, but everything is meticulously referenced at the end - always very reassuring.

It's worth adding that the hardback is a lovely book - nicely weighty and robust, with a proper paper smell.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Thorough, perhaps a little dry and over academic, 16 Dec 2012
By 
Rosey Lea (london, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: A History of the World in Twelve Maps (Hardcover)
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Maps are fashionable at the moment. Large heavy hardback coffee table books of colourful historic maps right through to popular science style books on great cartographic achievements (I still love The Great Arc: The Dramatic Tale of How India was Mapped and Everest was Named). This book sits in the middle of the scale. It's a book to read rather than flick through the pictures (in fact there's surprisingly few map pictures or visual aids, and they're not reproduced to a useful scale), but it is one heck of a heavy, detailed read. More of a dry, professional academic study than an armchair read.

That's not to discount the sheer volume of information the book contains, but every topic discussed is... huge. It takes real dedication and a little help from Google to wade through the entire book. Personally I would have preferred a cut down version, as although the subject matter is amazing, I did get that wading through treacle feeling bit too often.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If You Like Maps, This is For You., 23 Nov 2012
By 
T. Walker (Bedfordshire, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: A History of the World in Twelve Maps (Hardcover)
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I've always been fascinated by maps. I love them. Their attention to detail is astonishing.
Maps have played a huge part in the cultural development of our world and the way we look at it.
The selection includes: Muhammad al-Idrisi's infusion of what the Arabs salvaged and advanced from antique geographic knowledge into medieval Europe as of 1154; the cartographic christening of America in Martin Waldseemuller's world map of 1507 and the digital age's revolutionary reinvention of hitherto static two-dimensional map images in Google Earth as of 2012. Only five of the maps and their contextualisations are unexpected additions to the mix, but not arbitrary ones, since each merits the entry as ambassador of its era and culture, from the Korean worldview detailed in the Kangnido map of 1402 to Arno Peters' overly politically correct revisionist map projection of 1973.
I recommend this book - it's a new way of looking at our world through the eyes of the past.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The way we see it, 18 Nov 2012
By 
Sheenagh Pugh "Sheenagh Pugh" (Shetland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: A History of the World in Twelve Maps (Hardcover)
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This is an absolutely fascinating book. It costs 30 in the shops, and if I'd had to buy it, rather than getting it free via Vine, I might have thought twice, but I'd have been wrong - it's worth every penny. The price is down to the intricate, high-quality illustrations, essential in a book about how people have chosen to illustrate the world.

From the start, he stresses how maps have agendas; very few are just diagrams of where A lies in relation to B, and even then, the mere choice of A and B implies a measure of importance attached to them, as opposed to C and D. The Hereford mappamundi is, in terms of geography, laughably inaccurate even for its time, because the mapmaker was far more interested in the next world; it was for him an expression of the supremacy of Christianity (and possibly also of his dead and slightly disgraced patron, a fascinating side-issue). Map agendas can include empire, discovery, politics and several others - though the Greeks like Ptolemy, for all their Graeco-centric world view, did come at it from a scientific viewpoint which is truly impressive over the centuries.

The author is an academic and the book is serious and closely argued, but it is not written in any sort of impenetrable jargon; it is readable and always very informative. One of its best aspects is its awareness of the intellectual world beyond Europe: both Arabic and Far Eastern mapmakers figure heavily. If I wanted to carp, I would point out that the centre of an egg is the "yolk" not the "yoke" and that both author and proof-reader should have spotted this repeated typo! But I spotted no others and this is a seriously impressive volume.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars History, yes; maps no., 9 Dec 2012
By 
T. Russell "mug panda" (London, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: A History of the World in Twelve Maps (Hardcover)
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I have a great fondness for maps - fortunately, I have as great a fondness for history, otherwise I might have found this a letdown. I sometimes wonder why a book like this has any illustrations at all: not unexpectedly, we have here an inadequate collection, bound into two miscellaneous lumps, poorly reproduced and scaled at random. There is a modern horror of line drawings which would have been so helpful here to illustrate the author's points - we have some, but again they are poor and sized haphazardly. The text, however, is splendid, apart from the author's desire to over-inform and elaborate for no evident reason, which sometimes suggests pedantry. This shows us the circumstances surrounding the production of the maps discussed - whether for a ruler's self advertisement, propaganda purposes, or plain puffery (less often simply for practical use), and we are given full and knowledgeable explanations - or theories, where circumstances are unclear. It isn't necessary to read the chapters in order - I followed my own interests - but I do recommend starting with the valuable introduction - which itself seems to tell us not to worry too much about the actual maps - a twinge of conscience perhaps?
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Road to discovery, 17 Nov 2012
This review is from: A History of the World in Twelve Maps (Hardcover)
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This book brings a fresh and novel perspective into how we view maps! Never haveing formally studies geopgraphy, I have nonetheless have always been fascinated by maps be they road, satellite or survey maps (being a late convertee to GPS, I still have my trusted A-Z in the glove compartment)!
Prof Brotton explores the historical journey of maps, as well as the political weight that most -if not all- maps bear as part of their very nature. This is book is a journey of history and geography and politics, very readable, definitely enlightening, and for me very enjoyable.
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A History of the World in Twelve Maps
A History of the World in Twelve Maps by Jerry Brotton (Hardcover - 6 Sep 2012)
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