Book review: On the Map, By Simon Garfield
Boyd Tonkin is Senior Writer and a columnist at The Independent. An award-winning journalist, he was formerly Literary Editor at The Independent, and before that Social Policy Editor and then Books Editor at the New Statesman magazine. He has broadcast extensively for BBC arts and current affairs programmes and has judged the Booker Prize, the Whitbread biography award, the Commonwealth Writers Prize and the David Cohen Prize. In 2001, he re-founded the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize for literature in translation, and serves on its judging panel every year.
Friday 18 October 2013
Garfield's panoramic, erudite and enjoyable survey of cartography begins with Facebook's map of the world (2010; but where's Africa?) and Eratosthenes in third-century BC Alexandria.
Then as now, maps often select and distort, whatever their technology. Beyond the politically-charged history of cartography itself, he traces lines that lead from the Tube and Monopoly to satnav and neuroscientific brain-maps.
As for reputed gender differences: women, it seems, prefer almost 3D or highly pictorial maps rather than those flat male lines.
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