- Explore more great deals on thousands of titles in our Deals in Books store.
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Other Sellers on Amazon
+ $3.99 shipping
+ $3.99 shipping
+ $4.90 shipping
Mercator: The Man Who Mapped the Planet Hardcover – Bargain Price, January 2, 2003
The Amazon Book Review
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
Customers who viewed this item also viewed
Special offers and product promotions
From Publishers Weekly
In the course of a life that nearly spanned the 16th century, that glorious age of exploration, a Flemish peasant's son, Gerard Mercator, helped shape the modern perception of the planet while seldom venturing beyond the confines of a corner of northwestern Europe. Crane (Clear Waters Rising), a British geographer and adventurer, makes much of Mercator's long life and uses this longevity as an organizing theme of the biography: "surviving for twice as long as many of his contemporaries, he was able to mature through two consecutive life spans." In the first half of his life, the comparatively impetuous Mercator, struggling with his ideals, was imprisoned under the inquisition. In the second, with his passions more focused, he conceived and drew the first modern map using a "projection" that solved certain navigational problems; eventually, he created the first unified compilation of maps of the world, called an atlas. The raw material here is rich: there's the story of a poor boy makes good, explorations into civil and martial turmoil, and the excitement of new discoveries. While Crane sometimes loses track of the main story amid the minutiae of shipping manifests, he does demonstrate a real talent for incorporating letters and documents from diverse sources into very readable prose, as well as teasing Mercator's personality out of sometimes scant or tangential sources.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Famous cartographer Gerhard Mercator was a fellow graduate of Erasmus' alma mater and absorbed the Renaissance humanist spirit of the 1500s. In his 86 years, Mercator saw the opening wars of the Reformation, courtesy of Charles V's and his son Phillip II's campaigns to restore Catholic power in the Spanish Netherlands. These two themes of Mercator's era, the rejuvenation of inquiry and religio-political war, frame Crane's quite detailed biography, the first in English about the geographer. One of its most surprising aspects is the cradle-to-grave abundance of information about Mercator that Crane has pulled together, which is especially surprising since lowly cobblers' sons--as Mercator was--usually leave no historical records. But relatives and teachers took to Mercator, and their confidence in the boy was eventually vindicated by his seminal cartographic achievements. Illustrations of them--his mentors and his maps--abound in this stolid volume of Mercator's techniques and turbulent times. Gilbert Taylor
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top customer reviews
I did not learn a lot about either.
Crane has done an excellent job of learning about and documenting the conditions of and persons in the areas where Gerald Mercator lived and worked. Most of that was interesting but not pertinent to what I wanted to know. I learned a lot about the town in which he was born, the various towns in which he worked, and some about Duisberg Germany - the town in which he did his best and last work.
But, I did learn that there were " rhumb lines." Apparently these lines directly point toward the magnetic North pole. Lines of longitude point directly toward the geographical North pole. What I didn't learn was the value of the former vs the latter. Wikipedia reports "...Early navigators in the time before the invention of the chronometer used rhumb-line courses on long ocean passages, because the ship's latitude could be established accurately by sightings of the Sun or stars but there was no accurate way to determine the longitude. The ship would sail North or South until the latitude of the destination was reached, and the ship would then sail East or West along the rhumb-line (actually a parallel, which is a special case of the rhumb-line), maintaining a constant latitude and recording regular estimates of the distance sailed until evidence of land was sighted..." A rhumb line course is not a great circle course which is the shortest distance between points on the Earth. Author Crane explains little of this and illustrates none of it.
As to the man himself, I learned that he was earnest, disciplined in his work, ambitious in his technical goals, and procreative at home. That's it per author Crane.
I can't give this book more than two stars based on its not meeting my needs, but I will give it a third for his illustration of the conditions of the times. So three stars.
In addition to being an extremely comprehensive biography of Gerard Mercator, Nicholas Crane's book proves equally interesting as a history lesson on 16th century Europe. The Reformation, and the efforts to quell it, influenced the work of Mercator and other scientists of the time, and were responsible for Mercator's uprooting and imprisonment and nearly saw him executed for heresy. The state of mapmaking is another intriguing subject, as it involved a surprising amount of guesswork and reliance on ancient sources.
Readers of Mercator will not fail to notice the tremendous amount of research that Crane put into his book. Considering that the events recorded occurred more than 400 years ago, the level of detail is sometimes astonishing. Not only can Crane tell the reader about secret Protestant meetings, he can tell you where they were held, who attended, and even the occupation of each of the attendees. Unfortunately, the minutiae can become overwhelming and often make Mercator a difficult book to read.
I would recommend this book primarily to those who have an interest in the history of cartography or who are generally interested in the history of Mercator's era. For more casual readers, myself included, the book is a challenge to read and the rewards are not quite commensurate with the effort.
Well, lo and behold, Mercator was a person, Gerardus Mercator, not just a projection.
This is a terrific book for anyone interested in history that goes beyond the ordinary. In fact, there have been a lot of books about scientific history and this is a worthy addition to the genre.
Mercator was born in poverty in the Low Countries and lived to become the preeminent geographer of his time when drawing an accurate map involved doing the best you could from limited resources. Starting with globes he created the conventional way of putting a map on a flat surface with minimal distortion.
This is not the easiest book to read, but it was excellent. I recommend it to anyone who wants to deal with history beyond the usual political history.
It gave me a very detached impression.