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The Phantom Atlas: The Greatest Myths, Lies and Blunders on Maps Hardcover – 3 Nov 2016

4.8 out of 5 stars 33 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK; 01 edition (3 Nov. 2016)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1471159450
  • ISBN-13: 978-1471159459
  • Product Dimensions: 25.7 x 2.9 x 20.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 3,334 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description

Review

‘A bonkers book…Highly recommended’  (Andrew Marr)

‘A spectacular, enjoyable and eye-opening read... A wonderful book, with beautiful illustrations throughout’  (Jonathan Ross)

Beautifully illustrated…brain-boggling…an excursion into the minds of men imagining an as yet uncharted world’  (Spectator)

This intriguing book…shows how places that aren’t there can endure, sometimes for centuries, once a map-maker has inked them in’  (The Times)

Beautiful… Brooke-Hitching [has] an eye for a good story and his book is gloriously illustrated with ancient mistaken maps, each accompanied by a thoroughly researched tale of the men whose errors led to them.’  (Daily Express)

Extraordinary’  (Historia Magazine)

‘Excellent... Arranged alphabetically in fifty-eight short chapters, with lavish deployment of illustrations, the book provides a captivating chronicle of our battle with ignorance’  (Literary Review)

Unreservedly recommended’  (The Monocle)

‘From the magnetic mountain at the north pole to Australia’s inland sea, Edward Brooke-Hitching charts five centuries of misrepresentative maps.’  (The Guardian)

A rich selection… [that] shows how lively minds made use of limited knowledge, but also how rumour, guesswork and downright lies can persist in the scholarly imagination.’  (The Economist)

‘One of the most beautiful books I’ve ever seen in my life…full of fascinating quirky things.’  (Jen Campbell, author Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops)

‘The fascination and beauty of maps both emerge clearly in this well-written, witty and thoughtful book…this is a spirited and enjoyable study’  (Standpoint)

Exquisitely produced… Gorgeous illustrations of countries and islands that were once thought to exist...For any fans of maps this is a must’  (The Australian)

'Fascinating ... and beautifully illustrated' (Rosamund Urwin Evening Standard)

'The Phantom Atlas describes some 50 "myths, lies and blunders" and illustrates them in delightful detail...deserve[s] a place on the coffee table, but only after it's been read: there is as much to absorb as to see.' (John Ure Country Life)

From the Inside Flap

The Phantom Atlas is an atlas of the world not as it ever existed, but as it was thought to be. These marvellous and mysterious phantoms - non-existent islands, invented mountain ranges, mythical civilisations and other fictitious geography - were all at various times presented as facts on maps and atlases. This book is a collection of striking antique maps that display the most erroneous cartography, with each illustration accompanied by the story behind it.
Exploration, map-making and mythology are all brought together to create a colourful tapestry of monsters, heroes and volcanoes; swindlers, mirages and murderers. Sometimes the stories are almost impossible to believe, and remarkably, some of the errors were still on display in maps published in the 21st century. Throughout much of the 19th century more than 40 different mapmakers included the Mountains of Kong, a huge range of peaks stretching across the entire continent of Africa, in their maps - but it was only in 1889 when Louis Gustave Binger revealed the whole thing to be a fake. For centuries, explorers who headed to Patagonia returned with tales of the giants they had met who lived there, some nine feet tall. Then there was Gregor MacGregor, a Scottish explorer who returned to London to sell shares in a land he had discovered in South America. He had been appointed the Cazique of Poyais, and bestowed with many honours by the local king of this unspoiled paradise. Now he was offering others the chance to join him and make their fortune there, too - once they had paid him a bargain fee for their passage...
The Phantom Atlas is a beautifully produced volume, packed with stunning maps and drawings of places and people that never existed. The remarkable stories behind them all are brilliantly told by Edward Brooke-Hitching in a book that will appeal to cartophiles everywhere.

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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A fascinating book which my husband and I found very unusual. If you like odd facts (or should I say fiction) then this is for you.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A quite unique and interesting book that even non-history and non-map fans will likely find somewhat interesting - a river in Australia! Its both well written and well designed and printed.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A very interesting take on cartography and the history of the thoughts of the men involved
I would have like more discussion of the reasons that voyagers made false claims It was covered but as the raison d'être for this book I would have been interested to read more
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Bought as a gift and the recipient was really pleased with it; it really is a beautiful book.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I bought this book on a recommendation from someone I know and I was not disappointed. Its a gem and will provide me with hours of interesting reading.
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Format: Hardcover
This most unusual book is about lands of make-believe. Places on maps simply don't exist. The author is an incurable cartophile. He explains how places that are not there can endure for hundreds of years once a map maker has put them on a map. If it's on a map it must be true just like what's on a calculator must be true. But often it isn't.

The author shows in this witty and entertaining book that many people wish these phantom places were real, and he gives several examples such as the island in the gulf of Mexico. Conspiracy theories help to perpetuate the ghost places. In this case it was claimed that the CIA had destroyed it. These places existed all over the globe, not just in remote places. The reasons why such places exist for so long are varied. Myth plays a part, inaccuracy is another reason, and deliberate lies another. Gregor McGregor was a liar, and a soldier of fortune. He invented a land of abundant gold, Poyais. He conned colonists to go there. They discovered not gold but swamps. Thule the unknown land believed to be in their engagement Northfield appeared in the writings of the Ancient Greeks, then Virgil and Pliny. In the 1500's it was placed near the Orkney Islands surrounded by sea monsters.

At one time, maps showed California as an island, Patagonia as a region of giants. These misconceptions endured for ages. Sandy island in the Coral Sea existed until 2012, seven years after Google maps. In 1875, 123 non existent places were eradicated by the Royal Navy.

A chart of 1913 shows two Lands in the Artic that don't exist. The chart that shows them attests to the intense rivalry between Cook and Peary as they competed to be the first to reach the North Pole. There are numerous other example given.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Maps, we all know of them, we all use them but can we really trust them? What if they weren't drawn from reality but from belief? This incredible book catalogues some of the weirdest, wildest and wackiest things, locations and places to find themselves on a map and just as importantly why they are there. Great to sit and read through or to just dip into when you fancy. My step father is a cartographer - I had to buy him a copy so He'd leave mine alone! This book is thoroughly researched, well writted, wonderfully illustrated and beautifully illustrated it will grace any bookshelf. I can't recommend it enough!
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