Author(s): Jerry Brotton
Throughout history, maps have been fundamental in shaping our view of the world, and our place in it. But far from being purely scientific objects, maps of the world are unavoidably ideological and subjective, intimately bound up with the systems of power and authority of particular times and places. Mapmakers do not simply represent the world, they construct it out of the ideas of their age. In this scintillating book, Jerry Brotton examines the significance of 12 maps - from the almost mystical representations of ancient history to the satellite-derived imagery of today. He vividly recreates the environments and circumstances in which each of the maps was made, showing how each conveys a highly individual view of the world. Brotton shows how each of his maps both influenced and reflected contemporary events and how, by reading it, we can better understand the worlds that produced it. Although the way we map our surroundings is changing, Brotton argues that maps today are no more definitive or objective than they have ever been, but that they continue to define, shape and recreate the world. Readers of this book will never look at a map in quite the same way again.
[A] fascinating and panoramic new history of the cartographer's art... Brotton's idea of tracing within maps the patterns of human thought is a wonderful one -- Tom Holland Guardian As this mesmerising and beautifully illustrated book demonstrates, maps have, since ancient times, carried vast symbolic weight ... rich and endlessly absorbing history -- Sinclair McKay Daily Telegraph An elegant, powerfully argued variation on the theme of knowledge as power and ignorance as powerlessness -- David Horspool Guardian Rich and adventurous -- John Carey Sunday Times An achievement of evocation...a fascinating and thought-provoking book -- Anthony Sattin Literary Review Brotton is acutely sensitive to the social, political and religious contexts which unravel why maps were made, for whom and with what axes to grind -- Robert Mayhew History Today A highly rewarding study -- Simon Garfield Mail on Sunday Engrossing reading -- Carl Wilkinson Financial Times The intellectual background to these images is conveyed with beguiling erudition ... There is nothing more subversive than a map -- Andrew Linklater Spectator It is a wonderful history, which will delight anyone with an interest in history and geography -- David Wooton TLS
Jerry Brotton is Professor of Renaissance Studies at Queen Mary University of London, and a leading expert in the history of maps and Renaissance cartography. His most recent book, The Sale of the Late King's Goods: Charles I and his Art Collection (2006), was short-listed for the Samuel Johnson Prize as well as the Hessell-Tiltman History Prize. In 2010, he was the presenter of the BBC4 series 'Maps: Power, Plunder and Possession'.