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On the Map: why the World Looks the Way it…

On the Map: why the World Looks the Way it Does (2012)

by Simon Garfield

Other authors: Dava Sobel (Foreword)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
8124711,203 (3.73)1 / 33
  1. 20
    A Gentle Madness: Bibliophiles, Bibliomanes, and the Eternal Passion for Books by Nicholas A. Basbanes (waitingtoderail)
    waitingtoderail: Does for book collecting what this book does for map collecting.
  2. 20
    Map of a Nation: A Biography of the Ordnance Survey by Rachel Hewitt (John_Vaughan)
  3. 10
    A Little Book of Language by David Crystal (elenchus)
    elenchus: Garfield's On the Map and Crystal's A Little Book of Language share a similar approach to different subjects: each provides many short chapters on separate individual topics as means of surveying their field, history of cartography in the case of Garfield and the broad field of linguistics for Crystal. Each chapter is 4-5 pages, accompanied or separated by sidebars on related questions or facts. I enjoyed them both as galleries providing an overview and appetizer for further reading.… (more)
  4. 10
    The Ghost Map: The Story of London's Most Terrifying Epidemic--and How It Changed Science, Cities, and the Modern World by Steven Johnson (John_Vaughan)
  5. 10
    The Map That Changed the World: William Smith and the Birth of Modern Geology by Simon Winchester (John_Vaughan)
  6. 00
    The Library at Night by Alberto Manguel (CGlanovsky)
    CGlanovsky: Does for the phenomenon of libraries what Garfield does for maps
  7. 00
    Maphead: Charting the Wide, Weird World of Geography Wonks by Ken Jennings (John_Vaughan)
  8. 00
    London Under: The Secret History Beneath the Streets by Peter Ackroyd (John_Vaughan)
  9. 00
    Mapping for money : maps, plans and topographic paintings and their role in Dutch overseas expansion during the 16th and by Kees Zandvliet (marieke54)
  10. 00
    Never Eat Shredded Wheat: The Geography We've Lost and How to Find it Again by Christopher Somerville (John_Vaughan)

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English (46)  Spanish (1)  All languages (47)
Showing 1-5 of 46 (next | show all)
So far so challenging. The anecdotes (aka short chapters and even shorter inter-chapter essays) just don't come together to mean anything - I can't find a point, an argument, a narrative, anything that enables me to feel as if I'm actually learning anything meaningful. Def. not mind-expanding yet - still waiting for the title to come true. About 2/3 through.

ETA/ done. The epilogue was the coolest chapter. But I never did find anything significant enough to be called mind expanding." It never did add up to answer the question "Why should I read this?" I mean, if you're truly fascinated by all things cartographical, no matter how trivial, you're reading and enjoying it just for the info. dump. I wanted more.

If you did like this, come to our discussion in Fans of Maps and help us appreciate it more! http://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/1184987-spring-2013-group-read---discussion

" ( )
  Cheryl_in_CC_NV | Jun 6, 2016 |
Interesting, but for me I had to read it in bite-sized pieces or it became overwhelming. Wicked interesting though, every essay had some insight or fact that I didn't know. One of those books that while you're reading it you're constantly saying "hey, listen to this..." to anyone nearby. The pictures are small and only in black and white, so I used a much larger map book I also have that featured many of the same maps, but was easier to see. The internet would also be helpful if you don't have another book. ( )
  Bookmarque | Jan 13, 2016 |
Love a good map. This book whizzes through the history, never getting boring. Could have actually done with a little more detail: a few less anecdotes and some slower working-through of the history of Mercators, etc. ( )
1 vote sometimeunderwater | Dec 25, 2015 |
"On the Map" is a range of essays relating to maps, some more than others. Ranging from the oldest maps in existence, through famous old maps, such as the Mappa Mundae of Hereford, to some of the biggest map dealers in the world to map thieves and to online maps.

Other reviews have argued that Garfield (Simon Garfield, the author, not the cartoon cat) seems to spend time on topics only tangentially connected to maps, perhaps to fill the word limit required, I found these tangents illuminating. And, like Garfield, I worry that one day will no longer use printed maps at all, and we will lose something important that has been with us for thousands of years. ( )
  MiaCulpa | Aug 24, 2015 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I picked up this book having just read Ken Jennings' Maphead, so I was a bit concerned that reading another book of essays about maps would feel redundant. Happily, Garfield surpassed my expectations with this entertaining and informative volume that nicely compliments Maphead and any number of other books about maps. ( )
  Katya0133 | Jul 14, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 46 (next | show all)
Het interessante van wereldkaarten is dat je altijd kunt zien uit welk deel van de wereld ze afkomstig zijn. Is de wereldkaart van Europese makelij, dan ligt Europa netjes in het midden. Amerika is het Verre Westen, China het Verre Oosten. Op Chinese wereldkaarten is China letterlijk het Rijk van het Midden en Amerika de Oriënt. Europa is een marginaal gebied aan de westrand. De oudste kaart van Chinese makelij dateert uit de 12de eeuw en heet toepasselijk 'De kaart van China en barbaarse landen'.

Wereldkaarten zijn ook politieke statements. Over het feit dat de aarde een bol is, bestaat tegenwoordig enige consensus. Echter: als je van een bol een platte kaart wilt maken, moet je met landoppervlakten gaan sjoemelen. De wereldkaart waarmee inwoners van westerse landen opgroeien, is gebaseerd op de klassieke projectie van Gerardus Mercator uit 1569.
Mr. Garfield does not pretend to be a serious historian. (Neither did Ken Jennings, whose 2011 "Maphead" covered some of the same terrain.) His gift is for cherry-picking factoids, and his latest book, "On the Map," is full of little conversation pieces. But this book is diminished by the way it has been produced, with an alluringly tinted antique map of Africa on its cover and nothing but smudgy gray illustrations inside.
added by lorax | editNew York Times, Janet Maslin (Dec 18, 2012)
There is a great deal that is good and charming and fun about this book. But overall, Garfield seems like that most frustrated of soldiers, the general who has to deal in the field with a battle to be fought at that nightmare spot right in the middle of a swamp of information irrelevant to his needs, and where no soldier ever wants to be: He is floundering in a sea of facts, lost at the join of four maps.

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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Simon Garfieldprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Sobel, DavaForewordsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
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In December 2010, Facebook released a new map of the world that was as astonishing as it was beautiful.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 159240779X, Hardcover)

Cartography enthusiasts rejoice: the bestselling author of Just My Type reveals the fascinating relationship between man and map.
Simon Garfield’s Just My Type illuminated the world of fonts and made everyone take a stand on Comic Sans and care about kerning. Now Garfield takes on a subject even dearer to our fanatical human hearts: maps.
Imagine a world without maps. How would we travel? Could we own land? What would men and women argue about in cars? Scientists have even suggested that mapping—not language—is what elevated our prehistoric ancestors from ape-dom. Follow the history of maps from the early explorers’ maps and the awe-inspiring medieval Mappa Mundi to Google Maps and the satellite renderings on our smartphones, Garfield explores the unique way that maps relate and realign our history—and reflect the best and worst of what makes us human.
Featuring a foreword by Dava Sobel and packed with fascinating tales of cartographic intrigue, outsize personalities, and amusing “pocket maps” on an array of subjects from how to fold a map to the strangest maps on the Internet, On the Map is a rich historical tapestry infused with Garfield’s signature narrative flair. Map-obsessives and everyone who loved Just My Type will be lining up to join Garfield on his audacious journey through time and around the globe.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:16:53 -0400)

Examines the pivotal relationship between mapping and civilization, demonstrating the unique ways that maps relate and realign history, and shares engaging cartography stories and map lore.

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Average: (3.73)
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