Stuart'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 12, 13

liked it

The early parts of this book are quite interesting, exploring the history of maps, although it seemed to me that there were some serious gaps in the story. Garfield points out that maps didn't change for hundreds of years -- and then they did -- without really explaining why they changed so suddenly. He also seems to be trying to be funny much of the time, like he's attempting to channel Bill Bryson, which is a shame, because he's nowhere near as funny as Bryson. Bryson makes me laugh. Garfield doesn't. And finally, the book comes off the rails a few times in later chapters, as it enters the modern era, especially in the pointless chapter about maps in movies, where Garfield eventually veers into maps of the movie stars homes for no reason. He's also surprisingly crotchety about GPS, sounding like an old crank when he wonders why anyone would ever use it rather than a map. I love maps, but I can see the advantages of GPS. You'd think someone who spent a few years researching maps might give the future of them a bit more thought.
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