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Publisher's Summary

Maps fascinate us. They chart our understanding of the world and they log our progress, but above all they tell our stories. From the early sketches of philosophers and explorers through to Google Maps and beyond, Simon Garfield examines how maps both relate and realign our history.

His compelling narratives range from the quest to create the perfect globe to the challenges of mapping Africa and Antarctica, from spellbinding treasure maps to the naming of America, from Ordnance Survey to the mapping of Monopoly and Skyrim and from rare map dealers to cartographic frauds. En route, there are "pocket map" tales on dragons and undergrounds, a 19th-century murder map, the research conducted on the different ways that men and women approach a map, and an explanation of the curious long-term cartographic role played by animals. On the Map is a witty, irrepressible examination of where we've been, how we got there, and where we're going.

©2012 Simon Garfield (P)2014 Audible, Inc.

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Joanna
  • Chicago, IL, United States
  • 02-23-13

If you like maps & history, get this book!

This books covers just about all aspects of maps. While I'm not a map collector, maps have always been intoxicating for me and this book is the back story. It's amazing what people have accomplished! "On The Map" is full of history on exploration, cartography, collecting, dealing, and fraud to present day mapping with satellites, gaming, and contemporary art. So if you like maps and you like history, this book is for you!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Wonderful in every way.

On the Map is filled with wonder - at our world and beyond and how man/woman has tried to capture the three dimensional in two. Garfield never misses the opportunity for a touch of humor and also never misses the placing of an apt analogy at the right point.
The reading is lively and modulated in the right places.
Just wonderful.

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  • Matthew
  • Gatineau, Quebec, Canada
  • 02-06-14

I enjoyed it, but wouldn't re-listen to it.

Would you listen to On the Map again? Why?

Perhaps some book marked sections, or chapters, but not in it's entirety. I just didn't care about some sections in the book, while others were fantastic.

Would you recommend On the Map to your friends? Why or why not?

Yes. It's super informative

What about Simon Shepherd’s performance did you like?

Good to listen to, accent, clear, lively

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

No.. I listened to it while travelling and sleep deprived, and though listening to it's section on the Drake Passage while I was literally on a boat crossing the Drake Passage was interesting, there are long long drawn out sections that made it hard to stay awake.

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  • Scott
  • Santa Clara, CA, United States
  • 12-23-13

Informative history, with a modern perspective

Just like any good map, there's some detail in "On the Map" that you're probably not going to be very interested in, but most of the territory is fascinating, and fun to learn about, and to explore.

The writing, research, content, and organization is all top notch, providing unique historical perspectives that otherwise would be hard to come by.

And the narration is excellent. Simon Shepard's British pronunciations can occasionally seem amusing to an American, but his interpretation is alert and focused—very easy to listen to.

I wouldn't be surprised if I pick this one out of my library and give it a second listen some day.

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  • Story

Interesting but not a must have.

Certainly an interesting subject with many surprises, but it lacks something. Very UK centric.

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  • Balor of the Evil Eye
  • 09-04-13

A good history of cartography; poor ending.

An interesting topic, no doubt, and for the first two-thirds of the book, an informative historical guide to the evolution of cartography. The why?, when?, who? and how? of map making is traced from the time of the Roman Empire through to the modern day with all the important pit stops along the way; The Mapa Mundi (which gets too much attention), Ptolemy, the growth of navigation charts in the late 15th and 16th centuries and the later maps of Mercator that informed how world maps look today.
The story highlights many of the absurdities that cartographical development promoted, with the author describing assiduously the defects and the reasons for their inclusion/perpetuation.
The end third or so of the book is a more casual introduction to modern map trade, concentrating on particular dealers and their individual approaches. To be honest, it is not particularly interesting and could have been far more succinct.

The narrator has a clipped, standard English accent and completes his task competently. Easy enough to listen to.

Not a bad listen, probably one of the better recent books on the subject of maps for the general reader.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Luke
  • 04-01-16

Patchy but some good chapters

It's a bit of a slow book, and quite London centric. For real enthusiasts only.