Reviews for On the Map : A Mind-Expanding Exploration of the Way the World Looks

Booklist Reviews 2013 January #1
*Starred Review* Garfield follows up the best-seller Just My Type (2011) with an engrossing, endlessly fascinating history of maps. Following a foreword by popular-science writer Dava Sobel, he invites readers along on a trip through time and around the world that is enlightening and impossible to put down. The narrative dances from Marco Polo to Vinland, the first atlas ("the world in a book"), Lewis and Clark, the grids of Manhattan, and even the opening sequence of Casablanca. The people and places he has chosen to discuss are a collection of curiosities without peer, and even short "pocket map" visits with J. M. Barrie, the explorers Burke and Wills lost in Australia, and Winston Churchill's WWII Map Room are diversions not to be missed. The length and breadth of his scholarship are staggering, while the witty tone makes for the most convivial of literary guides. There are dusty archives, library echoes, and abandoned destinations, but also the most contemporary of surveys with brisk considerations of Google Maps and the MRI. Popular history is an overused term these days, but Garfield rewrites the definition by issuing an irresistible invitation to see the world, and delivering on his promise of "the map as story, the map as life." Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.

Kirkus Reviews 2012 November #2
A vivid foray into the romance of maps. This is a roughly chronological survey of choice moments in cartography, with Garfield (Just My Type: A Book About Fonts, 2011, etc.) keeping his focus trained on maps that present not just the lay of the land, but that transport and move us--maps that have something to say about who we are at some particular historical point in time. Although he starts with Eratosthenes, Strabo and Ptolemy, the author digs into the mysterious allure of maps after the strange interruption in mapmaking that followed Ptolemy for more than 1,000 years. Longer chapters provide lively histories of great maps, cartographic phantoms like the Mountains of Kong in Africa or the detective work of Dr. Snow's London cholera map. Garfield is equally at ease with treasure maps, where the loot is guarded by dangerous reefs, angry birds and an army of land crabs, or when ruminating on the great blank spots in 19th-century maps of Africa, suggestive of empty territory for the imperial taking. The author punctuates these chapters with colorful cartographic squibs on, for example, Churchill's map room or how Kit Williams' jeweled hare was found (not by a close reading of Williams' book Masquerade). Always present is a concern for how maps touch us: "We may detect the emotional state of the amateur cartographer through the graphite and the nib of hand-drawn markings, and because we know we are witnessing history as it happens." Garfield also looks at maps in the movie Casablanca, which brought us to northwest Africa, how the game Monopoly made us familiar with Atlantic City and how GPS has such a hold on our everyday lives. A fine, fun presentation of the brand of cartography that continues to whet our imaginations. Copyright Kirkus 2012 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

Library Journal Reviews 2012 August #1

Having triumphed with Just My Type, an illuminating guide to type fonts that made many best sellers and best books lists, Garfield returns to show how maps both reflect and shape human history. Over 100 maps and illustrations and thoroughly Americanized by Britisher Garfield, with new sections.

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Library Journal Reviews 2013 February #1

Garfield's best-selling Just My Type (2011) was about typefaces. Now he's done the same for maps. The result is not deep history but it is pleasurable history nonetheless: readers will enjoy this romp through 16,000 years of mapmaking, beginning with a hunter's map found in a cave in northern Spain and proceeding all the way to today's GPS, Google Maps, video games, and Me Mapping. Aimed at educated lay readers who want both to nourish their mind and divert it, the book dispenses a good deal of information in the process: the problems the earth's curvature has posed in its representation, how maps reflect national and cultural biases, how maps have been used to solve problems like the spread of cholera in 1854 London, the technical progress made in mapping. "Maps are only human, after all," quips Garfield. VERDICT Readers of popular history will enjoy this entertaining and informative book. This is popular history but not "history light."[See Prepub Alert, 7/22/12.]--David Keymer, Modesto, CA

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Publishers Weekly Reviews 2012 November #2

Innumerable modes of seeing the world unfold in this exuberant history of maps. Garfield (Just My Type) loosely follows the development of cartography, taking in the precociously scientific geography of the ancient Greeks; medieval England's Hereford Mappa Mundi, drenched in Christian allegory and teeming with mythical beasts; the Age of Exploration's heroic maps of newly discovered, sketchily drawn, and wrongly designated landmasses (America got its name from a cartographer's erroneous belief that Amerigo Vespucci discovered it); the 19th-century map that established cholera as a water-borne disease; modern GPS systems, and video game fantasy maps. Along the way he pursues diverting cartographical anecdotes and oddities, including the centuries-long consensus that California was an island, the lingering conceit that women can't read maps, and the appearance and disappearance of canals on maps of Mars. Garfield's coverage of this terrain, lavishly illustrated with reproductions of famous maps, is broad but paper-thin--more a meandering guided tour than a systematic survey. Still, his droll humor and infectious curiosity will keep readers engrossed as he uncovers surprising ways in which maps chart our imaginations as much as they do the ground underfoot. Photos, illus., maps. (Jan.)

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