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A History of the World in Twelve Maps Hardcover – 6 Sep 2012
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[A] fascinating and panoramic new history of the cartographer's art... Brotton's idea of tracing within maps the patterns of human thought is a wonderful one. (Tom Holland Guardian)
As this mesmerising and beautifully illustrated book demonstrates, maps have, since ancient times, carried vast symbolic weight ... rich and endlessly absorbing history (Sinclair McKay Daily Telegraph)
an elegant, powerfully argued variation on the theme of knowledge as power and ignorance as powerlessness (David Horspool Guardian)
Rich and adventurous (John Carey Sunday Times)
An achievement of evocation....a fascinating and thought-provoking book (Anthony Sattin Literary Review)
Brotton is acutely sensitive to the social, political and religious contexts which unravel why maps were made, for whom and with what axes to grind (Robert Mayhew History Today)
A highly rewarding study (Simon Garfield Mail on Sunday)
Engrossing reading (Carl Wilkinson Financial Times)
The intellectual background to these images is conveyed with beguiling erudition ... There is nothing more subversive than a map (Andrew Linklater Spectator)
It is a wonderful history, which will delight anyone with an interest in history and geography (David Wooton TLS)
From the Inside Flap
Throughout history, maps have been fundamental in shaping our view of the world, and our place in it. But far from being purely scientific objects, maps of the world are unavoidably ideological and subjective, intimately bound up with the systems of power and authority of particular times and places. Mapmakers do not simply represent the world, they construct it out of the ideas of their age. In this scintillating book, Jerry Brotton examines the significance of 12 maps - from the almost mystical representations of ancient history to the satellite-derived imagery of today. He vividly recreates the environments and circumstances in which each of the maps was made, showing how each conveys a highly individual view of the world. Brotton shows how each of his maps both influenced and reflected contemporary events and how, by reading it, we can better understand the worlds that produced it. Although the way we map our surroundings is changing, Brotton argues that maps today are no more definitive or objective than they have ever been, but that they continue to define, shape and recreate the world. Readers of this book will never look at a map in quite the same way again. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.See all Product description
Top customer reviews
Each chapter takes a theme of world history; sets it in context (the Hereford chapter includes material on what canonisation takes and just why the map was produced - a possible visitor attraction akin to holy relicts that might bring pilgrims to a site); explains the map and its role in the theme.
I learned a lot from the book - but read it over a period of some weeks. Each chapter contains much to think about; and each contains a wealth of detail to support the argument. I have wondered whether it could have been shorter with a stronger emphasis on maps - and I suspect it could have been, but then it wouldn't have quite been this book. I doubt I will remember much of the learned detail - but I will be taking away some reflections on maps and the themes of world history. It's hard to ask for more.
Lusciously illustrated and tremendously readable, it doesn't just cover Western cartography. It discusses a Korean map and also encapsulates religion and philosophy and the role they have in creating a world view.
Easy to read and trmendously interesting. Well done Professor Brotton.
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
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.
There are lots of images of ancient maps, the detail and depth that the book goes into are impressive, and the credentials of the author are impeccable. And yet it doesn't work for me. There is a mass of detail in here, from some of the very first maps by Ptolemy and other significant ones like the Mappi Mundi in Hereford cathedral, to the Mercer projection and the origins of the OS, and onto Google earth. It covers all the really important maps and individuals involved in the creation of those maps, and has some superb images of the maps in colour.
What makes this book so difficult to read is the text; it feels like it is written like a academic paper most of the time. It does improve towards the end, but it did make it very hard reading for most of the book, and that is a shame.
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