"From religious pilgrimages and vacation road trips to depictions of the ocean floor and the magical landscapes of J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle Earth, maps chart both physical and imaginary worlds. As geographer Denis Cosgrove explains '"World" is a social concept . . . a flexible term, stretching from physical environment to the world of ideas, microbes, of sin. Arguably, all these worlds can be mapped.' And they are in this compelling and very readable companion volume to the current exhibition at the Field Museum in Chicago."
"What could be more straightforward than a map? It's information from the perceived world reduced to two dimensions. Oh, if it were only so simple. In Maps: Finding Our Place in the World, co-editor Robert W. Karrow Jr. wants to stretch our idea of 'mapness' to understand that maps chart not just geography but also culture and bias—and can even obscure truth itself. The maps here are both beautiful and revelatory in the way they shape the viewer's thinking. The book also highlights the amazing variety of map materials, including a Marshall Islands 'stick chart' that helps novice mariners recognize the patterns of ocean swells as they learn to navigate local waters."
(Orli Low Los Angeles Times
"The book, which beautifully displays more than 180 maps and map-related objects, was produced in connection with the lavish exhibit of the same name. . . . The result is a meaty work that sweeps back and forth across the centuries and millenniums, spans the continents and ranges from the micro-details of a 19th Century London neighborhood to an ancient Aztec rendering of the cosmos."
(Patrick T. Reardon Chicago Tribune
"Maps, say the co-editors of this extraordinary new book, are a form of communication, a universal language that transcends speech and culture. They are intuitively understood to serve as a historical archive of nothing less than mankind's progress in the world. And so, if you thought maps were merely aerial drawings of places that help us get from A to B, you will astonished by the depth and breadth of this book."
(Nick Smith BBC Focus Magazine
"This is a fine work that belongs on the shelf of every serious student not just of the history of cartography but also of maps as socio-cultural artifacts. . . . [It] admirably captures and lucidly explains the study of cartography and its history over the last several decades. If I were to select a single work to teach a course on maps to a class whose familiarity with the subject ranged from knowledgeable to nil, I might well choose this one. . . . It contains such a wealth of information that advanced students would still learn a great deal, and it is written with sufficient clarity that beginners could understand it. Few books can make such a claim."
(Hubert O. Johnson The Portolan
"An enjoyable collection of high-standard essays. . . . The variety, quantity, and quality of illustrations (189, all in color) is truly exceptional for a non-catalogue. Maps will certainly speak to a vast audience of map collectors and map lovers, but will also appeal to academics wanting to familiarize with maps, or get a sense of current scholarship in the field."
(Veronica della Dora H-Net Reviews
"This well-illustrated, full-color book served as a companion to an exhibition of historical maps that depicted a wide
mixture of geographic settings, including the US. The exposition hosted maps, many one of a kind, from institutions
and private collectors from around the globe. Held in Chicago, followed by Baltimore, the presentation is the first of
its sort in more than 50 years. Divided into seven chapters that deal with a number of topics, which include
visualizing nature and society, the mapping of the world, and mapping imaginary worlds, the rich content makes this
volume appealing to a variety of map aficionados. Especially valuable is the inclusion of a large diversity of maps
that will aid readers in increasing their knowledge of how space has been depicted over time. Not a history of
cartography, this book introduces maps and their background, incorporating their characteristics and allowing for a
greater understanding of these tools. The bibliography is a significant addition for further reading and exploration.
"Maps: Finding Our Place in the World shows clearly how interdisciplinary and visual the study of maps can be. . . . This book can easily serve as a primer for any art historians interested in 'finding our way' into this fascinating new set of worlds from virtually all periods and places with human visual symbols."
(Larry Silver The Art Book
"[This book] might be one of the most beautiful and interesting books--coffee-table or not--I've seen in a long time. . . . This book is expensive and worth it and I can't really imagine the next coffee-table book that'll make me want it as much as I want this book."
"Absolutely drop-dead gorgeous. . . . The rendering of the wealth of images [is] reason enough to pay the price for this book."
(Tom Koch Cartographic Perspectives
"This book is a gem. There are few introductory summaries for the history of cartography that are affordable, confined to a single volume and generally intellectually up-to-date. . . . This publication moves past a coffee-table book and would be an excellent introductory volume for an undergraduate or lifelong learning course in the history of cartography."
(Joel Kovarsky Imago Mundi
About the Author
James R. Akerman is director of the Newberry Library’s Hermon Dunlap Smith Center for the History of Cartography and editor of Cartographies of Travel and Navigation, also published by the University of Chicago Press. Robert W. Karrow Jr. is curator of special collections and maps in the Roger and Julie Baskes Department of Special Collections at the Newberry Library.