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Cartographies of Time: A History of the Timeline 1st Edition

4.3 out of 5 stars 19 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1568987637
ISBN-10: 1568987633
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Editorial Reviews


"You may not be able to save time in a bottle, but surely it can be laid on the line. Beginning with fourth-century Christian theologian Eusebius's Chronicle, the timeline has been a mainstay for historians eager to visualize the temporal. In Daniel Rosenberg and Anthony Grafton's scholarly yet spirited account, we can see the church father's `image of history' recast with increasing intricacy and decorative flourishes. If some intriguing examples require viewers to decipher minuscule type and thread through labyrinthine structures, the best are often the clearest - those comprehended almost instantly. The timeline, the authors note, comes naturally to us - we think of time as inherently spatial, as long or short, with a start and a finish. Every day, every millennium, can be paced out from one side of the page to the other, or wound in a circle, as a few of these were, in fact, originally wheel charts with moving parts. Joseph Priestly constructed `A New Chart of History' (1769) with the intention of enlivening the march of the ages for viewers, showing them at a glance `all empires subsisting in the world' so they might `observe which were then rising, which were flourishing, and which were upon the decline.' While this isn't quite history written with lightening, these charts deliver whole epochs to the eye with a swiftness that belies the myriad days they condense." --Book Forum

"The first book, Cartographies of Time, is a heavily illustrated and comprehensive history of time maps, from tables and charts to cartographic illustration to the linear form we now associate with the word `timeline.' In chapter one, the authors write, `Our claim is that the line is a much more complex and colorful figure than is usually thought.' The fact that Anthony Grafton, Princeton professor and author of The Footnote (1999), is the co-author of this volume comes as no surprise. His ability to instill passion in his readers for an odd little thing like a footnote or a timeline is astonishing (much like Henry Petroski's books about bookshelves and pencils.)" --Fine Books Magazine

"It's definitely feeling like spring around here! We got a big box of gorgeous ceramics from Pigeon Toe (see tripod pot above) as well as our new favorite book, Cartographies of Time, plus more awesome little gifts for babies and kids. More soon as always!" --Rare Device

"Two brand new books I'm excited to pick up are Amsterdam Made By Hand, and Cartographies of Time. Both are aesthetically beautiful and detailed in the artistry of their respective subjects." --Lox Papers, March 3, 2010

"Rosenberg and Graftons text is crisp and informative, but the true stars of Cartographies of Time are the numerous illustrations and photographs of the chronologies themselves... Lovers of history, art, and design will find much to enjoy in this volume. RATING: 7 out of 10." --Pop Matters, April 9, 2010

"This is the best book I've seen in years and if the nice people at Princeton Architectural Press had not sent me a review copy, I would happily have paid them double the very reasonable list price of $50 for the book. This is a keeper." --BibliOdyssey, Friday, April 30, 2010

"I've been absolutely enthralled by its contents ever since I pulled it from the padded envelope. Cartographies of Time, by Daniel Rosenberg and Anthony Grafton, literally impresses you with its point from the moment you take it in-hand. Subtitled "A History of the Timeline," the book itself is corrugated with horizontally embossed lines on its covers. The effect is delightful (signaling right up front that this book is something special) and things just keep getting better as you travel deeper into the text. "Cartographies of Time is absolutely gorgeous....This is the type of artful and enlightening tome that makes me thrilled to be a book nerd. It's the sort of title that I'll have fun turning other book, history, design, and art enthusiasts onto." --Make Magazine, May 6, 2010

"Its only April, and my vote for the most beautiful book of the year may be all sewn up. Cartographies of Time, published recently by Princeton Architectural Press, is an eye-popping record of the ways that mapmakers, chronologists, artists and other infographics geeks have tried to convey the passage of time visually." -- Jennifer Schuessler --New York Times Book Blog, April 16, 2010

"Daniel Rosenberg and Anthony Graftons book Cartographies of Time is out now: my pre-ordered copy from Amazon is in front of me as I write. It looks beautiful and is lavishly illustrated." -- StephenBD --Chronographics, April 15, 2010

"Extraordinary stuff." --Ace Jet 170, May 14, 2010

"...the book's fascinating swathe of cartographic imagery will appeal to history buffs and data visualization fans alike." -- Maggie York-Worth --Cool Hunting, April 6, 2010

"The NY Times' Paper Cuts blog calls Cartographies of Time the most beautiful book of the year. I cannot disagree. In attempting to answer the question how do you draw time?, the authors present page after page of beautiful and clever visual timelines." -- Jason Kottke --Kottke.org, April 16, 2010

"I don't often give in to impulse buys, but I just ordered Cartographies of Time, and I'm pretty sure it's going to be well worth the thirty bucks." -- Nathan Yau --Flowing Data, April 19, 2010)

"Entertaining...visually arresting." -- Peter Terzian --The Barnes & Noble Review, May 19, 2010

"Great works of non-fiction often stand out because they make detailed examinations of even the most obscure topics fascinating. Cartographies of Time: A History of the Timeline certainly follows this pattern and will appeal to anyone with a love of history or design." -- Ben Bowers --GearPatrol.com, April 7, 2010

"A must read." --McCulley Design Lab, April 6, 2010

About the Author

Anthony Grafton is the Henry Putnam University Professor at Princeton University. He is the author of numerous books on European history and also writes on a wide variety of topics for the New Republic, American Scholar, the New York Review of Books, and the New Yorker.

Daniel Rosenberg is associate professor of history at the University of Oregon. He has published widely on history, theory, and art, and his work appears frequently in Cabinet magazine, where he is editor-at-large. With Susan Harding, he is editor of Histories of the Future.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Princeton Architectural Press; 1 edition (March 3, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1568987633
  • ISBN-13: 978-1568987637
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 1 x 10.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.7 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #872,187 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
It is with much regret that I must report that an otherwise excellent book has a major production flaw.
As far as I can tell, it appears that the author's provided scanned images of many ancient documents to the designer at Princeton Architectural Press. The layout and type is all excellent. But, it looks like the majority of images were not properly sharpened in Photoshop (a standard procedure when using scanned images) before being imported into InDesign (or possibly QuarkXPress) for the production of the book. There are a few images that are sharp. They appear to be taken with a digital camera or are more modern timelines converted directly from EPS vector files for the layout. In one example you can see the original scan, fuzzy, and next to it a sharpened close up of a part of the very same image.
If it is not a problem with the designer doing sharpening of images, than it is some kind of problem with the printer overseas either using the wrong image data or un-sharpening the images in some way.
It does not appear to be a screen alignment issue or something physically done wrong in printing. (Although, on a few signatures, the text is foggy but I think that is the ink thinning out - a consequence, perhaps, of Princeton Architectural Press saving money by going to overseas for printing.)
Why do sharp illustrations matter in this book? Because it is all about very detailed graphs. It is nearly useless because one cannot make out any of the details in the images printed in the book.
Really a shame that this disaster happened. The designer and the editor should have caught this in the proofs and corrected it before publication.
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Format: Hardcover
"While historical texts have long been subject to critical analysis, the formal and historical problems posed by graphic representations of time have largely been ignored." So starts an impressive illustrated book _Cartographies of Time: A History of the Timeline_ (Princeton Architectural Press) by Daniel Rosenberg and Anthony Grafton. The reason the timeline is ignored is that it seems so obvious - plot historic trends on a line, the earlier ones on one end leading to later ones on the other. It is such a simple idea that it is a surprise that we didn't know about it as soon as we started putting marks on paper. Yet there is a history of the development of such lines, and it is fascinating how the lines caught on once people started charting history on paper. That such graphic histories are useful seems obvious; they have the potential for giving visual form to historical flow, and for showing connections of one trend to another. There are plenty of serious charts of time shown here that conscientiously do just that. There are other charts, just as serious, that have been designed to show, for instance, how Jesus is going to return in 1843, and there are idiosyncratic charts by Dadaists which show not much of anything but in a highly complex fashion. The book is most entertaining when it looks at these oddities, but there is nothing like it to show our progress at taking graphic time seriously.

The antecedent of the timeline was probably the lists and tables giving a chronology of rulers and important events. Family trees lent themselves to chronological display, although many of the ones here are so complicated that it is hard to see the years ticking by.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I have to agree with the reviewer J. Coates. This book should be a five star just for the originality of the subject matter, and the author's excellent coverage. But the publisher has defeated the author's intention, which is to display the rich history of timelines.

I will give you just one example from many. On page 143, the book shows two images from Auguste Comte's Positivist calendar from 1849. Each of these images is about 80mm by 40mm: about one-tenth the size of the original, as far as I can tell. Unless you are using the Large Hadron Collider to get a better view, the images provide only the vaguest of approximations.

There is no point in buying this book if you are over the age of 40: your eyes simply will not be able to cope without a magnifying glass and a Maglite for illumination. The font size of the body text is somewhere between eensy-weensy and really eensy-weensy, and the font size used for captions makes a 6-point font look like banner headlines.

I don't know if the publisher shafted the author, or if the author colluded in this massacre of his own vision. One day a better publisher will reprint the work in a much larger format, and then we shall have a truly great work to read.
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Format: Hardcover
"Cartographies of Time" is an in-depth review of the use of timelines in history. The subject matter is well researched and examined with thoroughness. This is a nice book to hold and handle, and should be pleasing to those with an interest in maps, timelines, and the historical techniques of presenting chronologies and events. I think it would also be of use to people with a graphic persuasion who are looking at novel ways of presenting historical summaries or timelines on poster presentations - not because it is an instructional (far from it) but because it presents a wealth of timeline examples from history that I found inspiring. The book is not without fault, and two things deserve comment: firstly, the format of the book is not large enough to do full justice to the beautiful graphics (I spent plenty of time with a magnifying glass!); and secondly the page layout leads to text that is a few points too small for my liking, and lots of large space without print. These are fairly minor points though, and the content and scope of the book outweighs them. I mention them in the hope that a later edition in a larger format would do better justice to the impressive content. In summary, this is a really nice book that is pleasant to flip through or to read. An improved format would easily get 5 out of 5, but this time it's a 4 to 4 and a half.
M.J.Blackam, Melbourne, Australia.
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