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by Jerry Brotton

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Penguin Publishing Group
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Product dimensions:
5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 1.40(d)
Age Range:
18 Years



A fascinating look at twelve maps—from Ancient Greece to Google Earth—and how they changed our world

In this masterful study, historian and cartography expert Jerry Brotton explores a dozen of history’s most influential maps, from stone tablet to vibrant computer screen. Starting with Ptolemy, “father of modern geography,” and ending with satellite cartography, A History of the World in 12 Maps brings maps from classical Greece, Renaissance Europe, and the Islamic and Buddhist worlds to life and reveals their influence on how we—literally—look at our present world.

As Brotton shows, the long road to our present geographical reality was rife with controversy, manipulation, and special interests trumping science. Through the centuries maps have been wielded to promote any number of imperial, religious, and economic agendas, and have represented the idiosyncratic and uneasy fusion of science and subjectivity. Brotton also conjures the worlds that produced these notable works of cartography and tells the stories of those who created, used, and misused them for their own ends.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
в�… 09/02/2013
In an era when Google Maps is regarded as a standard convenience, this history of 12 epoch-defining maps—including Google’s—is a revelation. Renaissance scholar Brotton examines a cross-cultural sampling of historic world maps, exploring them as representations of both the Earth, and of the philosophical mores of the cultures that produced them. The maps range in function from the “practical maintenance of empire” to the spiritual concerns of uniting “the earth and the heavens in a harmonious, universal whole.” Each simultaneously represents a geographical survey, an aesthetic achievement, technological progress, theological instruction, and political demarcation. These multiple functions are mirrored in the structure of the book, which reflects political, philosophical, and cultural development. The maps are about humanity’s changing relationship with itself, others, the Earth, and the heavens, and this broad scope makes for rich reading. Ultimately, the unifying function of each map is to “rise above the earth” and see with a “divine perspective,” and Brotton offers an excellent guide to understanding these influential attempts at psychogeographical transcendence. Of course, each historic map, despite the cartographer’s efforts, contained inaccuracies, necessitating revisions—a humbling lesson for our current information-dense age. Maps. (Nov.)

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