Customer Reviews


96 Reviews
5 star:
 (40)
4 star:
 (36)
3 star:
 (11)
2 star:
 (8)
1 star:
 (1)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favourable review
The most helpful critical review


68 of 71 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very entertaining history of maps and cartographic ephemera
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...
Published on 15 Oct 2012 by Big Jim

versus
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars disappointing
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...
Published 18 months ago by A keen reader


‹ Previous | 1 210 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

68 of 71 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very entertaining history of maps and cartographic ephemera, 15 Oct 2012
By 
Big Jim "Big Jim" (London, UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
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
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Potted history of map making., 24 Dec 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Simon Garfield has written a few non-fiction works now and this latest effort which takes us on a historical tour of map making is mostly successful. The result is less a history of cartography and more a series of articles on different aspects of map making and publishing. The scope ranges from the London A to Z to the mapping of the planets; from the Mappable Mundi to maps of virtual worlds popular with computer gamers and from the early maps of the New World to the latest maps of the human brain. Many of these subjects would be worthy of books by themselves and as such, we can only get a taster in this volume. Nevertheless, there is some interesting stuff here and I certainly learned a few things that I did not know previously. One small quibble is that the many maps reproduced in this volume are presented in black and white and in miniature - probably unavoidable for a pocket-sized volume but it does detract from the work a little. As a collection of essays, some are more interesting than others and of course, we don't have a specific story to follow. I'd also argue that the title is a little misleading as I don't believe that the book explains "why the world looks the way it does". Still, three stars would be a bit churlish for such a well-researched effort so four stars was my verdict.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars disappointing, 4 July 2013
By 
A keen reader "A reader" (London) - See all my reviews
(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.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Well written but badly illustrated, 19 Sep 2013
By 
J. P. Attard - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: On The Map: Why the world looks the way it does (Paperback)
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.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A very human portrait of maps, 6 Nov 2012
By 
Mr. Timothy W. Dumble (Sunderland, England) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
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. Whilst Jerusalem featured at the centre of many medieval maps, today Google, Apple and Bing maps all feature 'me' (the tablet/ smartphone) owner at the centre -just another example of how maps have come to reflect the aspirations and beliefs of society -how apposite that the modern western consumer should have the world literally revolve around them!
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


44 of 50 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars 0 stars for pesentation, 5 for text, 25 Oct 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I have just received and dipped into the book to sample the text, and am looking forward to reading a lot more, so I err towards 5* for the writing. What really jars, when the book should hold hopes of tactile pleasure, is the awful paper, on which the book is printed. Cheap, nasty, horrible, it looks and feels and smells of newsprint and undoubtedly is the reason for the poor reproductions. The Thames and Hudson 'World of Art' series are comparable, about 2/3 the price, pro rata, printed on fine glossy paper, impressive reproduction of photos and drawings, and have proper stitched binding/spines as well. Why did Profile books chose to ignore quality ?
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Review, 25 Feb 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Content is good, but presentation is disappointing, as the maps are printed on the paper pages & not therefore very good quality. Bit disappointing in a hardback book.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Neither entertaining nor informative, 17 Mar 2014
By 
Ian C (Staffordshire) - See all my reviews
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
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.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book about maps, shame about the maps, 12 Feb 2014
By 
R. F. Stevens "richard23491" (Ickenham UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 50 REVIEWER)    (HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)   
Simon Garfield gives us an interesting and entertaining (but brief) explanation and history of maps; how, why and what they are, with several of the world's most significant maps as well as some unexpected and amusing gems all used to help illustrate his themes.

Alas, these examples are only shown in black and white, and are small and poorly printed. I've always been intrigued by maps and was very disappointed at the lack of detail available from the illustrations; why give us such a well written over-view of such an absorbing subject when the maps themselves are close to being illegible? Perhaps to force us into travelling the world to search out the originals?

I am fortunate to have been able to see some of the originals at first hand, just a sheet of glass away in some instances. For example the Hereford Mappa Mundi at the cathedral; while he devotes a whole chapter to describing it and how it was almost sold for a pittance, the illustrations supporting his text are barely recognisable.

More to the point, at the end of the book he shows us the many ways that are emerging of researching maps, and also grasping novel and modern mapping systems without needing paper, as well as an extensive Bibliography and a comprehensive Index.

My copy of the book is a first edition, first print hardback I was given as a very welcome Christmas present. It is most useful for drawing our attention to the gems we have missed, giving us history and trivia and fascinating facts, a starting point to searching out more detail, and with any luck actually being able to see the maps themselves. But the inadequate illustrations are what lose it a star.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4.0 out of 5 stars A treasure-trove, 9 Nov 2014
By 
Didier (Ghent, Belgium) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: On The Map: Why the world looks the way it does (Paperback)
I have no particular interest in maps except when travelling: to get where I need to go I will happily use a gps in the car (how did we manage before? It still baffles me but somehow we did), but once there or usually even before leaving, I do like to browse around a good map shop, and buy one or more maps of the region. To me, there's something reassuring in knowing where I am and how that relates to other places near by, don't you have that feeling too? Well, having just finished this wonderful book it seems we're not alone in feeling that way, and that there's ever so much more to maps - both historical and modern - than just representing in 2D a particular city, region, country or continent.

This book simply brims over with interesting, even fascinating stuff I never stopped to consider: the cartographic revolution caused by the Ordnance Survey, the idiosyncracies of fictional maps, Hereford's Mappa Mundi and Beck's London tubemap, guidebooks, the problems in constructing globes, not to mention the colourful host of people vividly brought to life in this book: discoverers, mathematicians, map thiefs and forgers, .... Add to that the easy-to-read, often tongue in cheek style Garfield uses and the net result is a book I found very hard to put down. Even if you're not even remotely interested in maps, try it: my guess is you'll never look at a map with the same eyes again!
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 210 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

This product

On The Map: Why the world looks the way it does
On The Map: Why the world looks the way it does by Simon Garfield (Paperback - 5 Sep 2013)
£7.99
In stock
Add to basket Add to wishlist
Only search this product's reviews