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The Un-Discovered Islands: An Archipelago of Myths and Mysteries, Phantoms and Fakes

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3.59  ·  Rating details ·  215 ratings  ·  50 reviews
In The Un-Discovered Islands, critically acclaimed author Malachy Tallack takes the reader on fascinating adventures to the mysterious and forgotten corners of the map.

Be prepared to be captivated by the astounding tales of two dozen islands once believed to be real but no longer on the map. These are the products of the imagination, deception, and human error: an archipel
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Hardcover, 144 pages
Published November 7th 2017 by Picador (first published October 13th 2016)
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Average rating 3.59  · 
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Vivian
Jan 17, 2018 rated it liked it
Map says it's there; where did it go?

There are several sections to this book breaking down the islands into categories: Islands of Life and Death (mythic representations of eden/heaven), Setting Out, The Age of Exploration--before we solved the problem of an accurate timepiece accurate longitude measurements were impossible and historical maps are littered with islands that have never been seen again. In 1875, the British Royal Navy removed 123 islands from its admiralty maps after an extensive
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Rebecca
(3.5) Last summer I very much enjoyed Malachy Tallack’s first book, 60 Degrees North, a memoir cum travel book about looking for a place to call home in the midst of a nomadic life. His new book is a gorgeous art object (illustrated by Katie Scott), composed of two- or three-page mini-essays about the real and legendary islands that have disappeared and/or been disproved over the centuries. A few of the names may be familiar – Atlantis, Thule and the Isles of the Blessed, perhaps – but many of t ...more
Figgy
The title of this book refers to a very specific type of island; not one that is yet to be discovered, but one was believed to be real at some point but is no longer on the map. These are the products of imagination, deception and simple human error. They are phantoms and fakes: an archipelago of ex-isles and forgotten lands.

Gathered in this book are two dozen islands, each covered in a 3-4 page mini-essay within one of several categories:
- Islands of Life and Death
- Setting Out
- The Age of Expl
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Ann (Inky)

"Faced with the sky we imagine gods; faced with the ocean we imagine islands. Absence is terrifying, and so we fill the gaps in our knowledge with invented things."

You know that quote of unknown origin floating around the internet that boasts: “we know more about outer space than our oceans”? Well, that’s actually kinda true. Especially if you whittle it down to just our solar system versus Earth’s mysterious salt waters. Even if you consider just the surface of the oceans, we as a species a
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Paul
Deserts have been known for mirages for millennia; the oasis that appears in the distance offering shade and water that as approached vanishes. Strangely enough, the same happens at sea, islands are glimpsed through fog and rough seas, navigation errors mean that sailors find places that exist elsewhere and others are purely figments of imagination. In this high quality book, Tallack has bought together the myths and legends of two dozen islands that were thought to exist, and now no longer do.

T
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Erin Riley
This book is about a series of islands, their definitions and their qualities that categorizes them. I read the book and was bored to tears. The long sentences and overall structure of the book lacked flow and it was unable to keep my attention for long.
Jennifer (JC-S)
Dec 10, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
‘Faced with the sky we imagine gods; faced with the ocean we imagine islands. Absence is terrifying, and so we fill the gaps in our knowledge with invented things. These bring us comfort, but they conflict, too, with our desire for certainty and understanding. And sometimes that desire gives us back the absences we sought to fill.’

In this book, delightfully illustrated by Katie Scott, Malachy Tallack writes about twenty-four islands which were once believed to be real. These islands no longer ap
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J
Jan 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: z-format-book, travel
Here was a book that was quite interesting for those who may enjoy good travel stories from the past and/or for those who are fans of fantasy. As such the reader is taken on a nice and snug little journey to explore just a few handful of islands that once upon a time used to exist whether they were caused from human creativity, nature deceptions, cartography mistakes or even real places that just very slowly receded back into the background where they had popped up from.

As a result there are s
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Pam Cipkowski
Dec 17, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a beautiful and fascinating book. High-quality cover and glossy paper make the colorful illustrations pop out. The un-discovered islands of the title include mythical islands, phantoms, fakes, and hoaxes, and cartographical errors. A few pages are devoted to each island or group of islands, so it’s easy to read this book in bits and pieces. Lots of history, mythology, geography, and cartographical exploration here. While it would take some time and travel to specialized libraries, it wou ...more
Inken
Feb 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is a lovely addition to my coffee table collection :-). The book is illustrated with beautiful colour drawings in each chapter and the writer provides a short description of the mythical island being described, as well some nice historical context.

The only quibble I have is that the text is very small! The font size (and pale colour) is very difficult for those of us with poor and ageing eyesight.
Colleen
Mar 11, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literature
This was a really engaging and interesting book. The stories of imaginary islands were my favorite as opposed to the sunken or simply misplaced ones. The accompanying illustrations are spectacular
Donald
Nov 06, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Light, airy, and without much meat, but a nice quick and enjoyable amuse bouche.
Sarah McCook-Weir
Really interesting essays about different islands and their origins that is also well designed and has beautiful illustrations.
David Dinaburg
Jan 24, 2018 rated it it was ok
As a kid I was nuts for esoteric fact books, the late-eighties apogee of which was David Feldman’s oeuvre, but what was precocious in a preteen is obnoxious in an adult. In my thirties, I’m a load of guff at trivia and I chalk a lot of that up to self-preservation; I have a pedantic streak a mile wide—I know this about myself—and I sometimes cannot help but blurt out the historical merits of chopsticks when someone asks me to pass the ramen. Or when someone shows me their honeymoon photos: “Thos ...more
Robin
The Un-Discovered Islands discusses an unusual topic: illustrated vignettes of 24 islands that used to be on the map, until cartographers learned that they didn’t exist. Mythology, human error, wishful thinking, and downright fraud play into this theme. From the well-known “sunken” islands of Atlantis and Lemuria, to (non-discoverer of the North Pole) Robert Peary’s self-aggrandizing “discovery” of the fraudulent Crocker Land, to the conveniently created Bermeja, for which oil drilling rights we ...more
Nortia
Mar 11, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
More like 2.5/5 really but I ended up frustated with the book. It was interesting and the drawings were cute -not amazing or anything but quite cute nevertheless. But I was expecting a lot more information out of this book, half the pages are drawings or index (omg so many index) and the information provided for each location was 2 pages without drawings tops. I didn't learn anything about the locations I already knew because the information provided is waaaay too simple and way too little, this ...more
Travis
Sep 30, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: history, geography
For some reason, I always find the idea of phantom islands and similar inaccurate geographies to be interesting; I should probably have made a tag for it, though it is a bit late now.

This was a rather light read, but enjoyable enough. It has a rather breezy style and feels like it is intended more as an art book for a casual audience than the more scholarly tone of other works on this subject. There are some references listed at the end of the book, but they don't feel substantial enough to rea
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M- S__
Jun 15, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I received this book through NetGalley in exchange for feedback and review.

This was a pretty interesting little book that was right up my alley. I have a tattoo of a rejected street map proposal for the city of New Orleans. I'm always eager to read up on interesting cartography quirks. And this book has all that. I learned a lot about the changing ways we've identified islands over the years. This book is a great survey of a niche subject.

And maybe my map love biased me a little here, but I did
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Dianna
Dec 11, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This title has been provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Tallack’s look at mythical isles in ‘The Un-Discovered Islands’ is oddly timely in the age of Google Maps and Fake News. The short volume explores islands throughout the age of exploration and beyond, paired with lovely illustrations by Katie Scott. I gained plenty of insight into the early practices of cartography and the common causes for such errors. Although the topic is compelling, the cases covered
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Jim Puskas
This is a very beautifully constructed and illustrated "coffee table" book - i.e. the sort of thing to be browsed and one that may start a series of amusing conversations among people with a taste for whimsy, an interest in exploration -- or who may simply have consumed a few extra glasses of port after a good meal. Accounts of adventure, deception or foolishness are, after all, what a great deal of human history consists of. There's nothing of consequence here but much to amuse. My one quibble ...more
Rose
I believed this book on The Un-Discovered Islands: An Archipelago of Myths and Mysteries, Phantoms and Fakes to address islands that either no longer existed due to destruction or finding an error in past cartography efforts. While it was a curiosity to browse through the illustrations and short descriptions, the book was shorter than I anticipated and did nothing more than wet my appetite for more through information from a trusted source of reference. I would envision it as a coffee table conv ...more
Julia
Feb 27, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was excited to read this new publication as it's such a neat premise: a history of islands that were once thought to exist, but whose origins have proven mythical, due to navigational or cartographic errors, or wishful thinking. Incredibly, some of these islands have been removed from maps only within the last decade. Though boasting an attractive cover and internal artwork, the book would have been further enhanced by images of some of the erroneous maps showing the islands in question. I als ...more
Nostalgia Reader
May 31, 2018 rated it liked it
A beautiful book, but a bit disappointing in facts--I was expecting a more comprehensive encyclopedia of sorts of the islands. It also lacked a comprehensive bibliography, which would have been nice to have seeing as the entries are very short. Although that might be because some of the islands simply don't have much written about them to begin with. There was also never a clear boundary between what was considered made-up and mirage (Crocker Land is first and foremost a mirage, yet it was under ...more
Leif
Sep 15, 2018 rated it liked it
Best read for what it is and not what it isn't: this is a collection of curious, an abbreviated appendix of the strange and sometimes serious "ex-isles" that Tallack deemed most interesting. Each "ex-isle" merits three to four pages of historical context and revision, and throughout there is an even tone that both accepts the strange happenings of the world but also delights in the logic of exposure. A Shetlander himself, Tallack himself is attuned to the specialness of islands.

Don't expect to f
...more
Kay Hudson
Feb 23, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Interesting but lightweight essays on islands that never really existed, either through error, misidentification, or outright invention, and which have been un-discovered by modern mapmakers. Satellite mapping has pretty much eliminated the last of them. Some interesting leads for further research or creative endeavors. My only real complaint is that the book is printed in a fashionably pale font, rather hard on my aging eyes.
Bookwormthings
I loved this, as much for the artwork as the content. Fascinating history of the problems of mapmaking, as well as human inventiveness.

Very very minor gripe is that I wish that the text had higher contrast against the paper. Only because when reading without glasses in bed it made it more difficult!

I want the artwork.
Anneliese
For some reason I found this book unsatisfying. I felt like the descriptions of the islands were disjointed (perhaps I just didn’t like the overall organization of the book) and I wanted more context and more maps (yes, I realize these are not real islands...but I reallly wanted maps).
Anne
Apr 28, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Not very interesting. Didn't learn a whole lot. Maps change, people see things that aren't really there, sometimes they lie to get attention. Shrug. I guess I was hoping for something a little more mysterious, something that would carry me away on a grand adventure. That did not happen. ...more
Katherine L
Sep 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book from cover er to cover. The mix of fact, myth and legend is so intriguing. Personally I'm currently finding how people deal with and interpret death really interesting and was delighted to learn so much about this from this book. A real treat to find x ...more
Sam
Oct 19, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Didn't really live up to how cool the concept was for me. ...more
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Malachy Tallack has written two works of non-fiction – Sixty Degrees North and The Un-Discovered Islands – and a novel, The Valley at the Centre of the World. He won a New Writers Award from the Scottish Book Trust in 2014, and the Robert Louis Stevenson Fellowship in 2015. As a singer-songwriter he has released four albums and an EP, and performed in venues across the UK. He is from Shetland, and ...more

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Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “We are not makers of history. We are made by history.” So, this January, as we celebrate Martin Luther King...
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“Faced with the sky we imagine gods; faced with the ocean we imagine islands. Absence is terrifying, and so we fill the gaps in our knowledge with invented things. These bring us comfort, but they conflict too, with out desire for certainty and understanding. And sometimes that desire gives us back the absences we sought to fill.” 0 likes
“Faced with the sky we imagine gods; faced with the ocean we imagine islands. Absence is terrifying, and so we fill the gaps in our knowledge with invented things. These bring us comfort, but they conflict, too, with our desire for certainty and understanding. And sometimes that desire gives us back the absences we sought to fill.” 0 likes
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