Marvelous Map Books

Posted on September 21, 2012. Filed under: Nonfiction | Tags: , |

Many people only see maps as a tool to use to help them get where they need to go. Yet maps can be so much more. Many are works of art on their own. Others tell a story. Some show the influence of culture on humanity’s view of the world. Others can be used to visually portray data. Oakton has many books about maps and how they are used. Here are some of my favorites.

cover for MapsMaps: Finding our Place in the World
edited by James R. Akerman and Robert W. Karrow Jr.

“Maps are universal forms of communication, easily understood and appreciated regardless of culture or language. This truly magisterial book introduces readers to the widest range of maps ever considered in one volume: maps from different time periods and a variety of cultures; maps made for divergent purposes and depicting a range of environments; and maps that embody the famous, the important, the beautiful, the groundbreaking, or the amusing. Built around the functions of maps – the kinds of things maps do and have done – Maps confirms the vital role of maps throughout history in commerce, art, literature, and national identity.

The book begins by examining the use of maps for wayfinding, revealing that even maps as common and widely used as these are the product of historical circumstances and cultural differences. The second chapter considers maps whose makers employed the smallest of scales to envision the broadest of human stages – the world, the heavens, even the act of creation itself. The next chapter looks at maps that are, literally, at the opposite end of the scale from cosmological and world maps – maps that represent specific parts of the world and provide a close-up view of areas in which their makers lived, worked, and moved.

Having shown how maps help us get around and make sense of our greater and lesser worlds, Maps then turns to the ways in which certain maps can be linked to particular events in history, exploring how they have helped Americans, for instance, to understand their past, cope with current events, and plan their national future. The fifth chapter considers maps that represent data from scientific instruments, population censuses, and historical records. These maps illustrate, for example, how diseases spread, what the ocean floor looks like, and how the weather is tracked and predicted. Next comes a turn to the imaginary, featuring maps that depict entire fictional worlds, from Hell to Utopia and from Middle Earth to the fantasy game World of Warcraft. The final chapter traces the origins of map consumption throughout history and ponders the impact of cartography on modern society.

A companion volume to the most ambitious exhibition on the history of maps ever mounted in North America, Maps will challenge readers to stretch conventional thought about what constitutes a map and how many different ways we can understand graphically the environment in which we live. Collectors, historians, mapmakers and users, and anyone who has ever “gotten lost” in the lines and symbols of a map will find much to love and learn from in this book” (Enriched content provided by Syndetics).

cover for Atlas of the Real WorldAtlas of the Real World: Mapping the Way We Live
by Daniel Dorling, Mark Newman, and Anna Barford

“In this definitive reference, sophisticated software combines with comprehensive analysis of every aspect of life to represent the world as it really is. Digitally modified maps or cartograms depict the areas and countries of the world not by their physical size, but by their demographic importance on a vast range of subjects, from basic data on population, health, and occupation to how many toys we import and who’s eating the most vegetables.

Each territory on a map displays its data geographically, shrinking and expanding in proportion to other areas. The cartograms are organized into topics ranging from Food and Consumables to Pollution and Depletion, and are accompanied by graphs, charts, tables, and full commentaries” (Enriched content provided by Syndetics).

cover for 100 Maps100 Maps: The Science, Art and Politics of Cartography throughout History
edited by John O. E. Clark

“From Ptolemy’s projection of the world – still the basic map after 13 centuries – to Tolkien’s cartography of Middle Earth (the most printed guide to a non-existent place ever), each of these maps has its own fascinating story to tell.

Escape maps, military maps, cartographic breakthroughs, and follies and forgeries: these 100 maps, organized chronologically, are the most important, dramatic, and breathtakingly beautiful ever created. They show not only the art and science of the form, but also its power. Some had devastating consequences, such the 1885 map of Africa that carved up the continent to Europeans desires. But others are simply exquisite to look at or mysterious, like the Aboriginal “Dreamtime” painting and the Siberian rock maps. And some maps capture places that exist only in the imagination. Finding out about each one is an adventure all its own, whether it be with Lewis and Clark across America or the British as they uncovered India” (Enriched content provided by Syndetics).

-posted by Gretchen Schneider

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