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

by Simon Garfield

Other authors: Dava Sobel (Foreword)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
1,3036011,799 (3.64)1 / 46
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.
  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 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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» See also 46 mentions

English (57)  Dutch (2)  Spanish (1)  All languages (60)
Showing 1-5 of 57 (next | show all)
A chronological, anecdotal history of cartography. Well researched and well presented. Not comprehensive but in bite sized, easily digestible chunks. Enjoyable. ( )
  Steve38 | Apr 18, 2022 |
2.5 anyone? The single most annoying thing about this book is the fact that the map reproductions are appallingly bad- muddy, dark, out of focus. So much so that I spent an inordinate amount of time looking up the map in question on the internet. Many of these same maps the author cites because they are so beautifully rendered. You are just going to have to take his word for this, mind you, because the maps in the book stink. Really guys, have you not heard of tipped in pages, color reproduction, glossy paper? The second most annoying thing is the author's inadequate (offhand) explanation of technical terms. If you cannot explain rhomb lines in a book about maps, why are you writing a book about maps? Again, the internet. So, I ask myself why are you reading this book! Arrgh. I did enjoy some sections, mostly in the sections on more modern mapping excursions and techniques. ( )
  PattyLee | Dec 14, 2021 |
An interesting book on a subject that influences so much about our lives and that we give very little thought to. While I learned quite a bit, I think that the book might have need some more structure. It felt like each chapter was a a
Self-contained unit that may or may not have any tie to the ones next to it. Still, well researched and written and worth a look ( )
  Colleen5096 | Oct 29, 2020 |
Maps can be a source of wonder to those that like to explore the world, or bring a sense of bewilderment to those that are directionally challenged. Garfield brings his sense of wonder to this subject

In his engaging style, he write about all aspects of maps, from the earliest know maps, a new producer of globes, sat navs, folding maps and how women can read maps; but not those created by men!

I liked the way he has done mini chapters for subjects that do not justify a full chapter, but really cannot be lumped in with other subjects. He travels all over the world, meeting map sellers, globe producers, and the head of Google Earth who is probably the man best place to sculpt the future of maps in years to come.

It has enough details to captivate the reader, but not so many to make it a academic tome.
( )
  PDCRead | Apr 6, 2020 |
Great book covering everything from the earliest maps to gps. The Old World to Dungeons and Dragons. The brain to Mars. Excellent and very readable history. It would be best for those with an interest and not speciality in maps and history, but a very good read for anyone. ( )
  evil_cyclist | Mar 16, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 57 (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.

» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Simon Garfieldprimary authorall editionscalculated
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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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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