Gina '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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's review
Feb 22, 13

bookshelves: 2013, non-fiction
Read from February 10 to 21, 2013

I haven't read a book with a map on the beginning pages that I didn't like so a book featuring maps ever few pages should easily exceed my theory's expectations, right?

The early chapters of this novel were absolutely fascinating. Garfield explores the history of maps with humor and ease. His chapters on the Mappa Mundi, the discovery of America, and Antarctica were by far my favorites and found I felt most engaged while reading the beginning of the book, which mostly covered the history of maps and, admittedly, was the aspect that drew me into reading it in the first place. That being said, I was less impressed with the second half, detailing modern advancements in maps and at times featured quite a bit of info dumping. There was a chapter on maps in movies, that was entertaining but not valuable or "mind-expanding", and an extremely boring section about the making of globes and the biggest map dealer in the world both of which I felt drug on forever.

On a whole, I enjoyed this book but I have one more bone to pick with Mr. Garfield concerning his decision to combine the stories of the Corps of Discovery with the grid mapping of Manhattan in one chapter. I was excited to read about the maps of Lewis and Clark's expedition and having their journey cut short as a precursor to the Manhattan mapping was kind of an "eh" moment for me, personally.

Other than that I think casual fans of maps who are interested in a broad history of cartography's origins will enjoy this book and find many of the anecdotal chapters to be insightful as well as the brief history of the digital map age to be an inspiring look into our mapping future!

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02/10/2013 page 42
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