'Journey over all the universe in a map, without the expense and fatigue of traveling, without suffering the inconveniences of heat, cold, hunger, and thirst.' --Miguel de Cervantes, in Don Quixote
From the earliest of times, maps have fired our imaginations and helped us make sense of our world, from the global to the very local. Head of Map Collections at the British Library, Peter Barber has here compiled an historic and lavish atlas, charting the progress of civilization as our knowledge of the world expanded. Simply organized as a progression through time, The Map Book collects some 175 maps that span four millennia - from the famed prehistoric Bedolina (Italy) incision in rock from around 1500 B.C. to the most modern, digitally enhanced rendering. Many of the maos are beautiful works of art in their own right. From Europe to the Americas, Africa to Asia, north to south, there are maps of oceans and continents charted by heroic adventurers sailing into the unknown, as accounts spread of new discoveries, shadowy continents begin to appear n the margins of the world, often labeled 'unknown lands.' Other maps had a more practical use: some demarcated national boundaries or individual plots of land; military plans depicted enemy positions; propaganda treatises showed one country or faction at an advantage over others.
So much history resides in each map--cultural, mythological, navigational--expressing the unlimited extent of human imagination. This is captured in the accompanying texts--mini essays by leading map historians--that are as vivid and insightful as the maps themselves. They make The Map Book as much a volume to be read as to be visually admired.