Lucinda's Reviews > On the Map: A Mind-Expanding Exploration of the Way the World Looks

On the Map by Simon Garfield
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Dec 13, 12

Read in December, 2012

This fascinating geographical look at our world is completely enthralling, and which takes you on the most exciting, remarkable journey!


This beautiful book is something to treasure, and which will delight fans of Geography, fine art and those who wish to explore the world and study different continents and countries. This book explores our loves for maps and for looking at the world, and which many readers including myself will find not only fascinating and enchanting but something that is to treasure for all-time! I personally connected to this book as my own Grandmother (who was an artist) drew the maps during World War two for Sir Winston Churchill, so as they could locate where to bomb Germany and so this brought to me a real sense of nostalgia and significance that touched my heart. I also love drawing by hand my own maps which I have done for art and for Geography studies, as someone who finds the world we live in absolutely fascinating and who like Sir David Attenborough wishes to explore and delve deeper beneath the surface – as there is so much too see and so much to know! This book may have connected with me on a personal and intimate level, but I also loved it for a great piece of narrative and something highly enjoyable to read. What Simon Garfield has to say is truly fascinating, extraordinary and which gives the reader such an insight as you will have never experienced before…

It is true that maps fascinate us, and that they not only chart our understanding of the world and log our progress but also above all they tell our stories. From the early sketches of Philosophers and explorers, to Google Maps and beyond, Simon Garfield examines how maps relate to our history (i.e. for example during wars or going further back in time when explorers visited uninhabited Islands or distant, remote places of the world!).
His compelling narratives range from the quest to creating the perfect ‘globe’ and to the challenges of mapping Africa and Antarctica, , from spellbinding treasure maps to the naming of America, from Ordnance Survey to the mapping of Monopoly and Skyrim, and from rare map dealers to cartographic frauds. (I must admit getting excited about the Pirate treasure maps!!). En route, there are 'pocket map' tales on dragons and undergrounds, a nineteenth century murder map, the research conducted on the different ways that men and women approach a map, and an explanation of 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.

This book is so exciting and which covers every kind of map you can possibly think of, used in both real life, Middle-Earth, Pirates and great World Wars to explorers from time gone by; this really is the most comprehensive and wide-ranging guide I have ever encountered. Delightful and mesmerizing, one can sense the author’s enthusiasm and passion for his subject through the pages and which captures your attention instantly so that you are drawn into the book, which I can only compare to say when David Attenborough is talking about an exotic animal televised and you are instantly pulled into what he is saying for his fervor is infectious! Completely enthralling to all, whether you are looking at an Ordinance Survey or a map of London, one is simply enchanted by this beautiful book that twinkles with the delight of discovery.

If you are traveling or journeying abroad then this book is a must-have companion, as it takes one on a fascinating voyage of discovery, which ultimately heightens ones exciting experiences when we travel to somewhere. This is a brilliant book and one that I highly recommend to any budding expeditionary!
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