Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Great Maps” as Want to Read:
Great Maps
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Great Maps

4.26  ·  Rating details ·  331 ratings  ·  28 reviews
The world's finest maps explored and explained. From Ptolemy's world map to the Hereford's Mappa Mundi, through Mercator's map of the world to the latest maps of the Moon and Google Earth, Great Maps provides a fascinating overview of cartography through the ages.

Revealing the stories behind 55 historical maps by analyzing graphic close-ups, Great Maps also profiles key ca
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published August 18th 2014 by DK
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Great Maps, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Great Maps

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.26  · 
Rating details
 ·  331 ratings  ·  28 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Great Maps
Layla Johnston
Nov 17, 2014 rated it it was ok
Unfortunately the author continues to use phrases such as "so and so discovered Australia." The use of outdated and clearly incorrect biased statements distracted me from the analysis of the maps. Most disappointing is Brotton's statement on p. 153: "Nantucket comes from the Algonquian for faraway island. Although some local names survived, the natives did not." It is unclear from his wording if he is referring to only Nantucket, but this incorrectly perpetuates the myth that no Indians are left ...more
Mar 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I very much enjoyed reading this book. The maps were amazing. So many different types, I was glad to se Zheng He's map included.
Michael Mesarch
Jul 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is a great book for the map nerds out there in the world.
Apr 05, 2015 rated it really liked it
Wonderful large-format book with beautiful color maps and explanations of each. I really enjoyed the detail sections that highlighted individual areas of each map. There are a huge number of maps profiled, many of which I've never heard of before, and they were so much fun to dive into. The pages were large enough and high enough quality to expose significant detail on many of the maps, so you could explore them yourself, without the need for the guided tour of text.

Expositions of maps like thi
Tim Poston
Jun 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I love maps -- all maps, from the distribution of diseases to Tolkien's Middle Earth. But most of all, old maps, that give a window into how other peoples have seen the world. Often, though (for instance, in map calendars) they come with too little information to do more than admire the art. Brotton sets them in context, picks out revealing details, and shares a rich grasp of their historical and navigational meaning. (Even if he does think fortuitous means 'fortunate', not 'by chance'. Don't mi ...more
Jan 27, 2015 rated it really liked it
Pornography for geographers. Couldn't put it down.
Oct 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
When I was a little girl during summer vacation my mom would take a trip to Utah-Idaho Supply and buy all sorts of maps and colored pencils, then each day we would fill in a different map. I remember writing in the names of European countries I hoped to visit someday, drawing mountain ranges and labeling rivers, drawing different pictographs to represent products made in each area... I have always had a fascination with maps.

This large illustrated hard-covered book is a sort of history of cartog
Emily Yang
May 28, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: cartophilia
A few inaccuracies taint this otherwise illuminating book:
* Page 175 states that a map of colonial Virginia was “produced” by Theodor de Bry. Yet it was William Hole who engraved the map based on information from John Smith. De Bry merely drew an accompanying illustration, but even the illustration was based on John White's paintings. Although De Bry later included the map in Grands Voyages, it’s deceptive to claim that he “produced” it, especially with no mention of John Smith or John White.
* P
Lloyd Downey
Mar 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is not an atlas but a collection of maps from the earliest to Google Earth. What I especially liked about it was the way the authors have designed it so that one can kind-of zoom in on a few features. They have small sections of the overall map enlarged with explanations of what you are actually seeing. It's interesting how we (I) have grown used to interpreting maps.....North to the top......main features having the same physical relationship on the map as they do in an aerial photo and so ...more
Chris Cloake
Nov 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I've always loved maps and anyone interested in them will love this colourful history.

From 1500 BCE to today, it covers our attempts to represent the world with lots of space for imagination. It has been an inspiration for me for the trilogy I'm working on (small plug there!).

You'll find a wealth of information that also becomes an historical commentary.

Interesting that Google Maps are included. Though a great bit of technology Google will never come close to offering the thrill of a book like t
Mar 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
Great maps (as the name implies), interesting notes, beautiful image quality. I wonder about some of the content choices, as there seems to be a real missed opportunity to better weave the narrative of history into the timeline of the maps, rather than simply lay them all out in chronological order.
Dorota Dorochowicz
Album najsłynniejszych dzieł kartograficznych w historii Świata.
George Foord
Dec 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Such a beautiful book
Feb 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Gorgeous, informative, feels like a museum in book form.
Leon Hermanson
May 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Perfect book for map lovers! Really good selection and interesting details.
Oct 12, 2014 rated it really liked it
As the title promises, this is a great collection of maps through the ages. A visual stunner, it offers introductions to everything from ancient carvings scratched into exposed stone to the first rendering of the world's ocean floors.

The maps are typically presented in two-page spreads, with another spread following to highlight details in close up. There are ancient mariner charts, metaphorical maps of world faiths and detailed graphical renderings of disease and poverty. The drawings are beaut
Cindy Dyson Eitelman
Sep 23, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2013-15
There's so much learning crammed into this book, my feeble little brain couldn't take it all in. It's an oversized picture book, each two or four-page spread showing and explaining a map that's either significant, beautiful, or puzzling. In some cases a map is really a collection of maps, like the Vatican Gallery of Maps. What a thing to see!

I was amused by his method of illustrating the size of the maps. Beside each was a figure of a human or else a human hand, showing its size relative to some
Thomas Brand
Apr 26, 2020 rated it really liked it
I couldn’t tell you why, but I love old maps. I think it has to be something about the art of them, and how something with such political meaning and intention at the time they were created has bow become artistic and historical curiosity.

I’ll always be drawn to collections like this. Seeing the ways cartographers tried to shape the world around them, whether it was claiming what they already knew or that which was being discovered and defined.

This is a pretty good collection, as they go. Most o
Sep 17, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
So many great maps in this book! Most of them are "proper" representations of the world as we know it today, but there are a few, more esoteric maps, like a Jain cosmological map, an Aztec map of Tenochtitlan, a Korean Cho'onhado (or Map of All Under Heaven as detailed in the Chinese text Classic of Mountains and Seas), a missionary map detailing the end times (complete with Horsemen of the Apocalypse and the Whore of Babylon), and a cartogram showing population sizes mapped onto a traditional p ...more
Douglas Summers-Stay
Jan 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
This is a collection of important and elegant maps all throughout history. Although the pages are quite large, it was the first time I have ever gotten a magnifying glass out to study the details of a book more closely. The most interesting parts, of course, are the things the mapmakers got wrong.
The book is mostly a presentation of the maps themselves. There are just a few paragraphs putting each map into context, and then a second two-page spread that pulls out a few details from the map to h
Jun 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2016
Very informative. Good layout. Beautiful maps through the ages. I particularly enjoyed the map of Nova Utopia.

When I was travelling, I always wondered what ancient artifacts or maps meant. While reading this book, it brought me back to my memories from Jordan (Madaba map), Vatican City (the Gallery of Maps), and Mexico City (National Museum of Anthropology).
Stephen Simpson
Aug 21, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: own
A great review of numerous significant or influential maps, including more detailed sub-sections and reasonably detailed explanations of what made the particular map noteworthy. Already a large and somewhat unwieldy book, it could have included probably another 50-100 pages without being significantly more inconvenient to read (although I'm not sure what that would mean for production costs).
Gorgeously illustrated, informative and insightful, Brotton uses a selection of maps through most of the known world and history, although African maps are conspicuously unrepresented. I was surprisingly engaged, considering it's a topic I've never really considered, and will now look into more map-oriented books, like Winchester's The Map that Changed the World.
Nov 28, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
More of a coffee table book, this has some great maps! Most are given a two-page spread (with introduction and mini-bio of the cartographer) followed by a pair of pages with zoomed insets and details. Well done!
Dec 26, 2014 rated it really liked it
This book explores historical maps. They reflect history, often help effect it, and sometimes lie for advantage of claiming territories. It also looks at the ornate maps as an art form. Interesting book for history fans.
Feb 28, 2015 rated it really liked it
Gorgeous coffee table book of maps, divided by period and type.

Explanations of historical significance or innovation mean that there is a tremendous amount explained.

Deeply lovely to either skim or examine minutely.
Tracy Canuck
Oct 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing
These Smithsonian DK books are so excellent. Such an interesting variety of maps and many detailed tid bits.
rated it it was amazing
Jun 06, 2018
rated it it was amazing
Sep 03, 2020
rated it really liked it
Sep 16, 2020
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Dearly: New Poems
  • Mapping Shakespeare: An exploration of Shakespeare’s worlds through maps
  • N.P
  • Moominvalley in November (The Moomins, #9)
  • 推し、燃ゆ
  • 心灵的焦灼
  • The Gifts of Reading
  • The End of Everything (Astrophysically Speaking)
  • To Green Angel Tower (Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn, #3)
  • Interior Chinatown
  • Burma Chronicles
  • The Secret of Evil
  • Dying of the Light
  • Wellenglitzern
  • Kiki's Delivery Service
  • Jane of Austin: A Novel of Sweet Tea and Sensibility
  • The Year 1000: What Life Was Like at the Turn of the First Millennium
  • Treasury of Animals & Nature
See similar books…

News & Interviews

“Let us remember: One book, one pen, one child, and one teacher can change the world.” That’s Malala Yousafzai, Pakistani human rights...
37 likes · 13 comments
No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »