Thursday, July 27, 2017

Variations on a Theme: Maps

At work, I am creating an exhibit on the art of the book. Part of this project has me traipsing through the stacks looking for pretty bindings and end papers. Some of my favorite end papers happen to be maps. This spurred an idea for this month's Variations on a Themes. Here's a list of books on maps and map-making.


Jerry Brotton

Throughout history, maps have been fundamental in shaping our view of the world, and our place in it. But far from being purely scientific objects, maps of the world are unavoidably ideological and subjective, intimately bound up with the systems of power and authority of particular times and places. Mapmakers do not simply represent the world, they construct it out of the ideas of their age. In this scintillating book, Jerry Brotton examines the significance of 12 maps - from the almost mystical representations of ancient history to the satellite-derived imagery of today. He vividly recreates the environments and circumstances in which each of the maps was made, showing how each conveys a highly individual view of the world. Brotton shows how each of his maps both influenced and reflected contemporary events and how, by considering it in all its nuances and omissions, we can better understand the world that produced it. Although the way we map our surroundings is more precise than ever before, Brotton argues that maps today are no more definitive or objective than they have ever been. Readers of this beautifully illustrated and masterfully argued book will never look at a map in quite the same way again.

Simon Garfield

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.

Ken Jennings

It comes as no surprise that, as a kid, Jeopardy! legend Ken Jennings slept with a bulky Hammond world atlas by his pillow every night. Maphead recounts his lifelong love affair with geography and explores why maps have always been so fascinating to him and to fellow enthusiasts everywhere. Jennings takes readers on a world tour of geogeeks from the London Map Fair to the bowels of the Library of Congress, from the prepubescent geniuses at the National Geographic Bee to the computer programmers at Google Earth. Each chapter delves into a different aspect of map culture: highpointing, geocaching, road atlas rallying, even the “unreal estate” charted on the maps of fiction and fantasy. He also considers the ways in which cartography has shaped our history, suggesting that the impulse to make and read maps is as relevant today as it has ever been. From the “Here be dragons” parchment maps of the Age of Discovery to the spinning globes of grade school to the postmodern revolution of digital maps and GPS, Maphead is filled with intriguing details, engaging anecdotes, and enlightening analysis. If you’re an inveterate map lover yourself—or even if you’re among the cartographically clueless who can get lost in a supermarket—let Ken Jennings be your guide to the strange world of mapheads.

Tim Marshall

Maps have a mysterious hold over us. Whether ancient, crumbling parchments or generated by Google, maps tell us things we want to know, not only about our current location or where we are going but about the world in general. And yet, when it comes to geo-politics, much of what we are told is generated by analysts and other experts who have neglected to refer to a map of the place in question. All leaders of nations are constrained by geography. In “one of the best books about geopolitics” (The Evening Standard), now updated to include 2016 geopolitical developments, journalist Tim Marshall examines Russia, China, the US, Latin America, the Middle East, Africa, Europe, Japan, Korea, and Greenland and the Arctic—their weather, seas, mountains, rivers, deserts, and borders—to provide a context often missing from our political reportage: how the physical characteristics of these countries affect their strengths and vulnerabilities and the decisions made by their leaders. Offering “a fresh way of looking at maps” (The New York Times Book Review), Marshall explains the complex geo-political strategies that shape the globe. Why is Putin so obsessed with Crimea? Why was the US destined to become a global superpower? Why does China’s power base continue to expand? Why is Tibet destined to lose its autonomy? Why will Europe never be united? The answers are geographical. “In an ever more complex, chaotic, and interlinked world, Prisoners of Geography is a concise and useful primer on geopolitics” (Newsweek) and a critical guide to one of the major determining factors in world affairs.

Phaidon Editors

Map: Exploring the World brings together more than 300 fascinating maps from the birth of cartography to cutting-edge digital maps of the twenty-fist century. The book's unique arrangement, with the maps organized in complimentary or contrasting pairs, reveals how the history of our attempts to make flat representations of the world has been full of beauty, ingenuity and innovation. Selected by an international panel of curators, academics and collectors, the maps reflect the many reasons people make maps, such as to find their way, to assert ownership, to record human activity, to establish control, to encourage settlement, to plan military campaigns or to show political power. The selection includes the greatest names in cartography, such as James Cook, Gerard Mercator, Matthew Fontaine Maury and Phyllis Pearsall, as well as maps from indigenous cultures around the world, rarely seen maps from lesser'known cartographers, and maps of outstanding beauty and surprising individuality from the current generation of map makers.

Ashley Baynton-Williams

Since that ancient day when the first human drew a line connecting Point A to Point B, maps have been understood as one of the most essential tools of communication. Despite differences in language, appearance, or culture, maps are universal touchstones in human civilization. Over the centuries, maps have served many varied purposes; far from mere guides for reaching a destination, they are unique artistic forms, aides in planning commercial routes, literary devices for illuminating a story. Accuracy—or inaccuracy—of maps has been the make-or-break factor in countless military battles throughout history. They have graced the walls of homes, bringing prestige and elegance to their owners. They track the mountains, oceans, and stars of our existence. Maps help us make sense of our worlds both real and imaginary—they bring order to the seeming chaos of our surroundings. With The Curious Map Book, Ashley Baynton-Williams gathers an amazing, chronologically ordered variety of cartographic gems, mainly from the vast collection of the British Library. He has unearthed a wide array of the whimsical and fantastic, from maps of board games to political ones, maps of the Holy Land to maps of the human soul. In his illuminating introduction, Baynton-Williams also identifies and expounds upon key themes of map production, peculiar styles, and the commerce and collection of unique maps. This incredible volume offers a wealth of gorgeous illustrations for anyone who is cartographically curious.


Other Map Books:
Atlas of Cursed Places - Olivier Le Carrer
Cartographia - Vincent Virga 
Flattening the Earth - John P. Snyder
Maps and Civilization - Norman J.W. Thrower
Maps: Finding Our Place in the World - James R. Akerman, Robert W. Karrow Jr., and John McCarter
Maps that Changed the World - John O.E. Clark
Maps: Their Untold Stories - Rose Mitchell and Andrew Jones

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