On The Map – Simon Garfield

A very readable jaunt through (largely western) map history and the societies that created, treasured and used them for both practical information and prestige.

Interleaved with the main, chronological chapters short Pocket Maps highlight smaller snippets of map-lore and theory, from Here Be Dragons to Women Can’t Read Maps. Oh Really? which don’t provide enough for a chapter but are just right for an essay.

A few months ago I got Jerry Brotton’s A History of the World in Twelve Maps out of the library after hearing (and enjoying) him speak at Stanfords. The two books share a common theme and many of the same maps and events, but I found Simon Garfield’s by far the more readable – I’d given up on A History of the World in Twelve Maps before we’d even left the ancient world.

The last of the cottage Christmas (and New Year) reading….

Author’s page: On The Map – Simon Garfield