“[A] rewarding journey for the intellectually intrepid.”
“If there’s a single takeaway from this fascinating and richly illustrated book, it’s that mapmaking is perennially contentious.”
—The Daily Beast
“A stimulating and thought-provoking study of how the mixing of science, politics, and even religion influenced and continues to influence cartography.”
“This history of 12 epoch-defining maps—including Google’s—is a revelation… Brotton offers an excellent guide to understanding these influential attempts at psychogeographical transcendence.”
—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Maps allow the armchair traveler to roam the world, the diplomat to argue his points, the ruler to administer his country, the warrior to plan his campaigns and the propagandist to boost his cause. In addition, they can be extraordinarily beautiful… All these facets are represented in British historian Jerry Brotton’s rich A History of the World in 12 Maps.”
—Wall Street Journal
“Author Jerry Brotton's book dips into maps spanning millenia of human experience, from Ptolemy's Geography (circa 150 AD) all the way up to Google Earth, the dynamic, increasingly omnipresent Internet Age way that we answer the age-old question "Where am I?" …Along the way, he finds some marvelous things.”
—Christian Science Monitor
Jerry Brotton is the presenter of the acclaimed BBC4 series 'Maps: Power, Plunder and Possession'. Here he tells the story of our world through maps.
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, world maps 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 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 - whether the Jerusalem-centred Christian perspective of the 14th century Hereford Mappa Mundi or the Peters projection of the 1970s which aimed to give due weight to 'the third world'.
Although the way we map our surroundings is once more changing dramatically, Brotton argues that maps today are no more definitive or objective than they have ever been - but that they continue to make arguments and propositions about the world, and to recreate, shape and mediate our view of it. Readers of this book will never look at a map in quite the same way again.