Four New Map Books Reviewed
Joshua Hammer reviews four coffee-table treasures that illustrate the many entertaining and intellectual cartographic forms.
Map: Exploring the World is a collection of 300 celebrated maps spanning 3,000 years: "the most captivating of several new books that explore the power of spatial representations and how they shape our perceptions of reality," according to Hammer.
The Curious Map Book explores the more playful side of maps, with illustrations of puzzles from 18th century Britain, hand-woven rugs from wartime Afghanistan, and Hammer's favorite—a series of anthropomorphic satires. Among these "one exquisite creation, drawn by the lithographic artist and caricaturist Joseph John Goggins, probably in Dublin, in 1870, [that] portrays Europe as a menagerie of grotesque humans and beasts in sometimes bellicose poses."
In his book, Restless Empire: A Historical Atlas of Russia, Ian Barnes narrates a cartographic history of Russia and the Soviet Empire. "Most powerful are his maps of the wars that repeatedly threatened to tear the empire apart, from Napoleon’s doomed invasion in 1812 to Hitler’s Operation Barbarossa in 1941," opines Hammer.
Tim Marshall's ambitious claim to explain everything about the world in ten maps (Prisoners of Geography: Ten Maps That Explain Everything About the World) may seem at times reductionist. However, Hammer finds that Marshall's "insistence on seeing the world through the lens of geography compels a fresh way of looking at maps — not just as objects for orientation or works of art, but as guideposts to the often thorny relations between nations."