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Cartographia: Mapping Civilizations Hardcover – Bargain Price, October 25, 2007
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Top Customer Reviews
"X" marks the spot. Do you remember that? You knew you'd found treasure--or at the very least, an amazing secret waiting to be unearthed.
Cartographia is a treasure that is waiting for map and history lovers of all generations to discover. This beautiful work of art will hold your attention for hours as you look at maps drawn on paper, on wood, on stone, on figurines, and in tapestries. World maps, metaphorical maps, a map depicting a square earth and round heaven, maps on warfare, and the Oregon Trail. From ancient maps to one of the human genome, they're all contained within the pages of this book.
The text brings history alive and helps to develop an understanding of the psychology and culture behind the creation of these charted representations.
Vincent Virga, "America's foremost picture editor," is well known in history circles. Collaborating with The Library of Congress (where more than five million maps reside), he has put together an awesome book illuminating the diversity of people who populate our planet. Not only their different geographic landscapes, but also their cultural and social visions of the world and how those ideas have changed over time are represented. From Africa to the Netherlands, China to Ireland, Christianity, Judaism, Islam...you will receive a sense of human attitudes and ideas thoughtfully portrayed in the permanent form of maps.
If you ever get a thrill finding your destination, reading the map key to open the mysteries before you, or locating your house on Google Earth, Cartographia will captivate you.
If you know someone these emotions apply to, don't let them miss this book.
"X" marks the spot. You can find it in Cartographia.
Armchair Interviews says: Map lovers of the world, unite.
Here is an example: According to Vincent Virga on page 117, the 2003 CIA map of Africa, with its plain, empty lines, is an expression of the CIA's desire to downplay the complex military, economic and social problems of developing countries. There is no explanation of why France, Germany and Spain are depicted exactly the same way.
Don't get me wrong, colonialism is pretty bad, but that doesn't mean that it permeates every drop of ink on every map. To say, as Virga does on page 109, that colonialism was the sole reason for the Rwandan genocide is to infantalize the actual perpetrators and ignore their status as human beings capable of making their own decisions. The social, political and economic problems left behind by colonialism almost certainly play a role in the way people former-colony developing countries live today, but their history didn't begin when the French and British and Belgians showed up and it didn't end when they left either.
The text of Cartographia leaves one with the impression that it was written by a man looking up at the clouds, imagining that he sees a hand or a duck or a representation of capitalist oppression in what is really just a cloud or, in this case, just a map. The most tragic part of it is that any actual insight that Virga might have provided into the real history and meaning of these maps is buried and discredited.
More ethical and scrupulous nonfiction authors who write for a popular audience use endnotes and a bibliography or an annotated bibliography to give credit to the scholars and authors whose work they popularize. Virga's "cartobibliography" shows only where he got permission to reprint the images. Without a real bibliography, most readers will never find the scholarly works where Virga got his ideas. It is troubling that the Library of Congress participated in this project on
Anyway, it's actually a good book for background on maps from human history and from around the world. It's just best to take the text in small doses and try to set aside the blatant political commentary that slips in here and there.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The most beautiful book on map history that I've seen. The text is learned yet very accessible, and the images well chosen and printed. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Marie
Its a nice conversation starter but not really what I was expecting. I was hoping for more maps but its more of a history book. Which is cool. I like that too. Read morePublished on March 29, 2014 by D. Dalton
I bought this book because I love maps, especially historical maps. As an artist, I find the maps in this book stunning. Read morePublished on October 11, 2013 by LiDona
It's a must for whoever loves cartography maps and history.
Apart of being a great book it's also a great asset in your library....
Just wasn't what I was expecting. Interesting historical articles but I was looking for something a little different with descriptive maps and comparisons..Published on May 9, 2013 by Jan
Cover torn completely from body of book. Book pages are crisp & clean, no dog ears or tears. Text: acceptable; quality of volume: poor. Read morePublished on April 27, 2013 by Brian Davis