Wednesday, September 4, 2013

On the Map

On the Map: A Mind-Expanding Exploration of the Way the World Looks
Today’s Nonfiction post is on On the Map: A Mind Expanding Exploration of the Way the World Looks by Simon Garfield. It is 464 pages long including and index, and a bibliography. It is published by Gotham Books. The cover has a map on it with a hand blacked-out with the title and author information on it. The intended reader is someone who likes nonfiction, maps, or just an enjoyable book to read. There is no language, no sex, and no violence in this book. But there is honesty about things like racism so there is your warning. There Be Spoilers Ahead.

From the dust jacket- Imagine a world without maps. Where would we go? How would we record those journeys? What would men and women argue about in cars? Our reliance on maps has gone far beyond the paper they are printed on or, more recently, the strength of our GPS signal. Maps fascinate us. They chart out understanding of the world and they log our progress, but above all they tell our stores.
In On the Map, Simon Garfield leads us on a stimulating journey grounded in the idea that maps hold a key to what makes us human. Scientists have even argued that mapping, more than the development of language, is what boosted our prehistoric ancestors over that critical threshold that the other apes failed to cross. Garfield weaves a rich narrative tapestry ranging from the quest to create the perfect globe to the challenges of mapping Africa and Antarctica, from spellbinding treasure maps to the naming of America, from the Ordnance Survey to the mapping of Monopoly, and from rare-map dealers to cartographic frauds.
On the Map explores the unique way that maps both relate and realign our history, beginning with the early sketches of philosophers and explorers and progressing to Google Maps and beyond. En route, there are delightful digressions: “Pocket map” tales about dragons and underworlds, a nineteenth-century murder map, research conducted on the different ways that men and women approach a map, and an explanation for the curious long-term cartographic role played by animals.
On the Map is a witty and irrepressible examination of where we’ve been, how we got there, and where we’re going.

Review- I really enjoyed this book. It is well written, interesting, and with fun pictures. Garfield takes the reader from the beginning of maps when the world was flat to turn-by-turn present and with many stops in-between. He is witty, funny, and well informed. While I was reading this book I was stuck at a tire place waiting and this book helped me not be there but with Robert Lewis Stevenson as he drew the map of Treasure Island. I cannot think of enough good things to say about this book. I am going to be reading more of Garfield’s books because of this book. He is a good writer that makes something interesting fun. I find history interesting but it takes talent to make it fun and new again. Garfield does just that. I highly recommend this book.

I give this book a Five out of Five stars. I get nothing for my review and I borrowed this book from my local library.