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History of the World in Maps: The Rise and Fall of Empires, Countries and Cities, by Times Atlases

Glosgow: HarperCollins UK / Chicago: Trfafalgar Square, 2016. Pp. 256. Maps, index.. $45.00. ISBN: 0008147795.

Map Making Across the Ages

The Times, which has published historical atlases, contemporary atlases, and even period atlases, here offers the reader an atlas of the history of map making, with more than 70 maps in full color, tracing the history of map making from Babylon to the recent past.

The maps used are not new creations intended to illustrate historical events, but rather they are examples of maps made across several thousand years, intended for the use of people of their times. Thus, the modern reader sees places or events as the people of the times depicted them, within the framework of their cultural milieu, geographical knowledge, and skill at making maps, as the accompanying text helps explain.

Naturally, some of the earliest maps seem quite crude, and even many more recent ones may seem quite inaccurate, but as the text points out, they are often quite sophisticated, once we understand how to read them. The nature of the maps varies widely, from street plans of Babylon or nineteenth century London, maps intended to aid mariners or travelers, depictions of nations, continents, or the entire world, and even the moon. The maps may offer just geographical or political content, but often provide social, military, transportation, and even medical information.

A valuable work for any library or history buff, this will be of particular use for those interested in cartography or the graphic presentation of information.

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Reviewer: A.A. Nofi, Review Editor   


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