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Cartographia: Mapping Civilizations by…
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Cartographia: Mapping Civilizations

by Vincent Virga

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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Showing 4 of 4
Well, I'm kind of split on this one. This is a great, comprehensive treatment of maps across time, history, and cultures. That said, Virga's socio-political viewpoint leaks out throughout the book. So, it makes a great reference book for the evolution of maps around the world, with lots of great color illustrations (though they make you want to track down a full-sized copy so you can read the details - keep a magnifying glass handy when you read this book). But to read cover to cover as a history, it gets a bit tiring. My general gripe with Virga's writing is that maps made by non-European cultures are wonderful, brilliant, advanced, etc., while maps made by Eurpoean cultures are tools for the spread of colonialism, capitalism, or any other -ism that European culture is typically criticised for. Regardless of one's opinion about this aspect of European history, it's usually not relevant to the topic at hand. An example of the introduction of a socio-political bias that in unnecessary to the purpose, is this line, regarding maps used to define international agreementsabout nations' economic boundaries into coastal waters - "...opponents in the United States argue that the Law of the Sea Treaty...interferes with private industry's right to profit at the expense of biodiversity". That last phrase ("at the expense of biodiversity) is almost certainly not what opponents argue, is dropped into the text with no basis in information already provided, and has nothing to do with the map or the discussion of the map except that there are opponents to such treaties.

Anyway, it's actually a good book for background on maps from human history and from around the world. It's just best to take the text in small doses and try to set aside the blatant political commentary that slips in here and there.

Os. ( )
1 vote Osbaldistone | Jul 31, 2009 |
The highlight of course are the 202 maps included. They are a window to other times. I love maps for giving me a sense of what is and how people view it. The maps are predominantly historical. Items not found in today’s atlases, so they are very rare for me. Some people can just sit and look at artwork for hours on end. I stared at many of these maps for hours, just absorbing the people and places that made them.

(Full review at my blog) ( )
1 vote KingRat | Mar 27, 2009 |
"Cartographia," by Vincent Virga and the Library of Congress is an amazing volume that explores in depth the development of the art of cartogtraphy, map-making, from ancient times to the present. This handsome, over-sized, volume with full color photos of beautiful and rare maps throughout the ages, is a must-have for anyone interested in history, geography or maps.

The book is arranged in sections divided by region of the world (i.e. Mediterranean, Europe, the Americas, Asia, etc). The text is extremely informative, well-written and engaging, while also very concise and focused. The map photos are absolutely breath-taking! Apparently the U.S. Library of Congress map collection contains more than 4.8 million original maps, and more than 60,000 atlases from ancient times to the present- which is absolutely incredible in and of itself!

Some of the maps and sections I found most interesting were: the early maps of the "New World," with all their interesting speculations and inaccuracies; the maps of Egypt- both by the ancient Egyptians, as well as maps made by Napoleon's early 19th century expedition and others. This magnficient volume also includes some early road and transit maps made right around the time that the national highway system was beginning to take shape across America in the mid twentieth century.

I highly, highly recommend this excellent volume- not only for the amazing maps and excellent text, but also for a sense of perspective of how maps have been shaped by human cultural perceptions of those in power throughout the ages. It is also a great book for parents with school age children, or to display as a living room, coffee table conversation piece. Pick this one up, and enjoy! ( )
3 vote peacemover | Mar 29, 2008 |
See Dec.2, 2007 NYT Book Review section for full review. It sounds good.
  kthartig | Dec 27, 2007 |
Showing 4 of 4
Clear design, a manageable format, efficient printing and a diverse, dazzling selection of material ... The maps are well chosen for study, ornament and delight. ... The organization is irrational, with chronological, cultural and geographical categories inexplicably muddled — but the point of the book is more dazzle than illumination.
 

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Vincent Virgaprimary authorall editionscalculated
Library of Congresssecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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To the memory of my dear friends
Susan Sontag and Victoria de los Angeles,
spiritual cartographers,
and to James McCourt, my carte de tendre
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As William Least Heat-Moon revealed in his travels across America in Blue Highways: A Journey into America, a map can be more than a guide to find one's route from one point to another.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0316997668, Hardcover)


CARTOGRAPHIA offers a stunning array of 200 of the most beautiful, important, and fascinating maps in existence, from the world's largest cartographic collection, at the Library of Congress. These maps show how our idea of the world has shifted and grown over time, and each map tells its own unique story about nations, politics, and ambitions. The chosen images, with their accompanying stories, introduce the reader to an exciting new way of "reading" maps as travelogues---living history from the earliest of man's imaginings about planet earth to our current attempts at charting cyberspace.


Among the rare gems included in the book are the Waldseemuller Map of the World from 1507, the first to include the designation "America"; pages from the Ortelius's Theatrum Orbis Terrarum of 1570, considered the first modern atlas; rare maps from Africa, Asia, and Oceania that challenge traditional Western perspectives; William Faulkner's hand-drawn 1936 map of the fictional Yoknapatawpha County, Mississippi; and even a map of the Human Genome. In an oversized format, with gorgeous four-color reproductions throughout, Catrographia will appeal to collectors, historians, and anyone looking for a perfect gift.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:05:30 -0400)

"A richly illustrated exploration of maps and mapmaking, Cartographia celebrates the work of those who have mapped the world from the dawn of civilization to the present. In a text that journeys beyond the basic geographical facts, each map becomes a visual record of human endeavor-ofdiverse cultural, social, and economic landscapes - and each has a tale of wonder to tell. These maps, in their amazingly various forms, are models of time, diaries of intrigue, and illuminating works of art. Together they provide a unique vision of how the world and our understanding of it have changed over the past several centuries." "More than 200 maps, selected from the Geography and Map Division of the Library of Congress - the largest cartographic collection in the world - are reproduced in this sumptuous volume. Some of the rarest and most spectacular maps ever made are featured here, including: the Waldseemuller Map of the World from 1507, the first to include the designation "America"; pages from Ortelius's Theatrum Orbis Terrarum of1570, considered the first modern atlas; rare maps from Africa, Asia, and Oceania that challenge traditional Western perspectives; William Faulkner's hand-drawn 1936 map of the fictional Yoknapatawpha County, Mississippi; and a 2001 map of the human genome." "With their accompanying stories, the vivid color plates in Cartographia introduce the reader to an exciting new way of reading maps as travelogues - as living histories from the earliest imaginings about planet Earth to our current attempts at charting cyberspace, the latest of our "last frontiers.""--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

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