Did you know that Ptolemy created a map of the world based on stories, both oral and written? And what if you were to learn that his map was used for almost 1,350 years as "the principal map of the world"? In today's environment of the Internet, GPS, and smart phones, how many of us still own a physical atlas?
Maps hold a clue to what makes us human. Certainly they relate and realign our history. They reflect our best and worst attributes—discovery and curiosity, conflict and destruction—and they chart our transitions of power. Even as individuals, we seem to have a need to plot a path and track our progress, to imagine possibilities of exploration and escape. The language of maps is integral to our lives, too. We have achieved something if we have put ourselves (or our town) on the map. The organized among us have things neatly mapped out. We need compass points or we lose our bearings. We orient ourselves (for on old maps east was at the top). We give someone a degree of latitude to roam.—On the Map by Simon Garfield (Penguin USA / Gotham Books, 2012, p. 18; uncorrected proof)
Maps fascinate us because they tell stories.
It will be a while before you'll see a review of this true account of the mapping of world from the ancient Egyptians to GPS. I've been savoring it a little at a time.
Buy On the Map at an indie or at a bookstore near you. (Link leads to an affiliate program.)
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