Read Mercator by Nicholas Crane Online


Gerhard Mercator (1512-1594) was born at the dawn of the Age of Discovery, when the world was beginning to be discovered and carved up by navigators, geographers and cartographers. Mercator was the greatest and most ingenious cartographer of them all: it was he who coined the word 'atlas' and solved the riddle of converting the three-dimensional globe into a two-dimensionaGerhard Mercator (1512-1594) was born at the dawn of the Age of Discovery, when the world was beginning to be discovered and carved up by navigators, geographers and cartographers. Mercator was the greatest and most ingenious cartographer of them all: it was he who coined the word 'atlas' and solved the riddle of converting the three-dimensional globe into a two-dimensional map while retaining true compass bearings. It is Mercator's Projection that NASA are using today to map Mars. How did Mercator reconcile his religious beliefs with a science that would make Christian maps obsolete? How did a man whose imagination roamed continents endure imprisonment by the Inquisition? Crane brings this great man vividly to life, underlying it with the maps themselves: maps that brought to a rapt public wonders as remarkable as today's cyber-world. Nick Crane's new book is a scintillating account of the climax of the map-makers' century (and of Mercator's life) - the miraculous compression of the planet which revolutionised navigation and has become the most common worldview we have....

Title : Mercator
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780297646655
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 348 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Mercator Reviews

  • Ryan Marquardt
    2019-02-26 11:29

    This book is an immensely detailed biography. It's probably too detailed to be of much interest to a general reader. In fact, I'm not entirely sure if this book is all that readable outside of an academic setting. It appears to be painstakingly researched and provides a narrative of Gerardus Kremer's entire life.It didn't really get into the details of cartography that much. Apparently Mercator's use of italics was almost as influential as his projection of the globe (which he may have developed when laying out the gores for one of his sought after globes). He also appears to be one of the first cartographers to have created a book of maps that depict the entire Earth, and was the first to call such a collection an Atlas.The book is interesting as an historical portrait of like in the the Dutch and German lowlands around 1500. It is interesting to view Europe in a time when survival for common people could be decided by a bad harvest one year. Mercator's time is also interesting as a bridge between feudal times and the emergence of larger nations and the religious strife associated with the reformation. I wouldn't quite use the word hero, but Mercator sought to re-present through empirical data and did not appear to have a political or religious agenda. However, his maps and globes and their representation of what belonged to whom did make him an object of persecution by the Catholic Spaniards in the Netherlands. He moved to Protestant Germany after that experience to enjoy a humanist atmosphere more tolerant of learning and free thought.I think he is to be admired for the obvious skill as a cartographer, his grand project to map the entire world in an Atlas based on the best available data, and his ability to negotiate the rough political and religious seas through his schooling and vocation. I especially admire that he labored alone for so much of his on a project of such a grand scale (the mapping of the Earth). That type of dedication and perseverance to a project that provides such a large benefit to humanity is amazing. The fact that he labored alone may have been due to his perfectionist tendencies, but still....And one last point, people (including myself at one point) disparage the Mercator projection for its distortions, and the apparent agrandization of the northern hemisphere in relation to the equatorial regions. It distorts things...fair enough. However, the projection has its merits for being able to plot a straight line on a map and follow that map heading to a destination. Also, you can dislike the distortions on the map, but I think Mercator deserves his due for creating a very useful representation of a sphere onto a sheet of paper. Not everyone could afford a globe at that time, and wall maps using the Mercator projection could easily be purchased and made into a montage of the known earth. Finally, I think Mercator's interests were cartographic, and not geopolitical. The results of the continued and ubiquitous use of the projection can be argued against in our current time, but I think the creator of the projection is beyond reproach.

  • ^
    2019-03-05 13:28

    Engrossing ... yet there is so much depth of content in this volume that I felt I needed fairly frequent breaks in order to assimilate the sheer weight of knowledge which Nicholas Crane packs into this book. It is quite unlike anything else of his I have read. This book is beautifully constructed, it is a a tale which needed to be told, and he has told it very well indeed. Mr Crane clearly enjoyed researching his material, and that joy is infectious. However, I touchingly felt that I could almost begin to imagine how wonderful it must have felt to him to finish writing it, and to be reunited with his (ever understanding) wife and three children.More please! (family permitting).

  • Amy
    2019-02-28 07:11

    The book is mainly focused on the details of Mercator's life (like his complete inability to answer letters on time, meet deadlines, or set realistic goals) which was interesting, but I would have preferred more explanation of the thing that made him important enough to write a book about.

  • Leigh
    2019-03-11 11:36

    A fascinating and incredibly detailed biography of the man who gave us the Mercator projection – the method still used to reproduce the 3D world on a 2D world-map.The last two pages of the epilogue tell us more about the projection itself than the whole of the rest of the book. The other 99.4% of Crane's extremely in-depth account tells us about Mercator himself, his education, work, his friends, family, and collaborators, his religion, health, and his ambition to map the (not yet entirely discovered) planet, all set alongside such history of the area (politics, regal wranglings, inquisition, war, plague, etc.) relevant to the story.Although the author often goes off on tangents, offering background information about the latest person involved in Mercator's life (and there are many, many people involved), his writing is accessible and the tale irresistible. It took me weeks to read this book, but I always wanted to go back to it.There might not be a lot about Mercator's projection itself, but there is an awful lot about the globes and maps he researched (despite remaining in his home region for his entire life) as well as his production methods, including his introduction of italic handwriting.Fascinating. Loved it. Recommended for anyone interested in a comprehensive low-country history of the times (1500-1600) as well as those with a love of maps.

  • Linnaea
    2019-03-23 11:21

    I picked this up from a remainders table for a few bucks, not sure whether it would really be that interesting. And it is initially a bit slow going. It took me 40pgs or so to really get into it. But it ended up being a gripping story. The book if, of course, a biography of Mercator and the story of how he came to create the first ever atlas, and to devise his famous projection. In the process, we get a fascinating look at 16th century academia, and at the burgeoning book publishing industry. In a world of Google Earth, and GPS in cars and cell phones, it's well worth taking the time to appreciate just what a colossal and extraordinary effort went in to creating the first modern maps.

  • Colleen
    2019-03-16 06:21

    While I'm not a great reader of history, and I think this book could do with some judicious editing, I found it a fascinating account of the history and politics of drawing maps. The 1500s in Europe was a turbulent time of great change - Columbus had found the new world and come back, Martin Luther was excommunicated from the Catholic Church and Protestantism was on the rise, and the movable type printing press was getting on for a century old. I found it illuminating to see how the changing times were reflected in map making, as in every other aspect of life.

  • Vinko Culjak Mathieu
    2019-03-03 07:32

    A thoroughly interesting read, Crane's Biography of Mercator is meticulously researched and choke-full of details from every aspect of Mercator's life. Unfortunately the depth of detail may make this book difficult for the general reader. Perhaps this book is better suited for those in academia or those with an immense interest in the history of geography.Given all the details of the book, I was disappointed Crane did not write more about Mercator's projection. Really, it was only in the epilogue that we learn a bit about the projection. I also found the reading challenging at time because sentences often held four, five, even six ideas, leaving little room for one to reflect.Overall, a fascinating read but challenging at times.

  • Filip
    2019-02-25 08:16

    More aptly, the title of this book should have been: "Mercator: a muddled list of successive places where he lived, and of the books and objects he produced". Boring and shallow. One walks away from this book with hardly any idea about Mercator the man. Surprising for a book about a famous cartographer, its author displays a cavalier attitude towards place names and geographical precision (Church names in Flanders are rendered in French; Danish isles are mentioned by their German names). Long paragraphs are dedicated to the description of specific maps; unfortunately they are not the maps shown in the illustrations. Mercator lived in one of the most cosmopolitan regions of the world during very turbulent times. It is beyond amazing that this great basic material has led to as bland and boring a biography as this one.

  • Brendan
    2019-02-23 14:30

    It was a very good read, clear, and well written. Despite a few moments when I thought Crane was going to be overly dramatic with some of Mercators events, he was not, no 'mountains out of mole hills' as he wrote the Map of Mercators life.This was a straight biography, however. I was personally hoping to go into more detail on the science/math of Mercators projections, how he came to them and how he did it. But this definitely focused on Mercator and what is known about him and his life. The very small Epilogue is also fairly weak in explaining how Mercator, his projections, and his Atlas made it's way from ~1595 to us today. But, if anything, I congratulate the author for staying focused, that I still want to know more and am looking for other sources is testament to the work.So, 5 stars for a great biography.

  • Lolla
    2019-03-22 09:28

    I set sail for unknown shores opening this book but floundered within 50 pages. Crane seems to delight is showing off his arcane vocabulary and research into glosses on glosses on only tangentially relevant volumes, all of which does nothing to enrich the text, which it might have done inthe hands of a moe deft writer. This book tells you about the grass genus growing in the grey silt base fields below the granite rocks near the sloping hillside beneath the blah blah and apart from interesting snippets about Erasmus, does not reveal the personage who undertook this amazing feat half a millenium ago. BOOOOORING!

  • John
    2019-03-23 12:31

    Being immersed throughout my career in the world that Mercator created I started this book with great expectations. Unfortunately, for me, it delved too much into European political squabbles at the expense of telling the story behind that word we take for granted on charts- Mercator. However, for anyone interested in sea going navigation, or Cartography this book is a must.

  • Nikos
    2019-03-02 14:33

    Interesting book, although too detailed in its description of maps and their editions. I would expect more explanations about what maps and cartography were before Mercator and what they are now. And a few more math about its projection. Still, I enjoyed the reviving of the Reformation era and the description of the Benelux region of those days.

  • Malbadeen
    2019-03-19 09:13

    Well I didn't actually read it all, when it started getting really boring I looked at the back and realized it was a biography and I knew could just stop right then and there. I mean come on this guy was no Merv Griffen why bother with all 300 and some pages? I get the idea he made maps and they are very helpful.

  • John E
    2019-03-11 08:22

    A slow read, but a good book anyway. Mercator lived two lifetimes (80 years when the life expectancy was closer to 40) and lived through the Reformation and the rise of science. He was more famous in his life as a globe maker than a mapmaker. I found it interesting that he spent so much time writing about religion and recreating ancient maps and that he hardly travelled at all!

  • Brian
    2019-03-15 06:20

    I had high hopes for this book (damn blurbs), but there just wasn't much there. If the book had been dramatically edited, it might have been okay, but as is it wanders and has way too much history-type material for a general read.

  • Marc
    2019-03-23 09:19

    Very classic biography, with a chronological overview of the live of Mercator. Very interesting because of the way he showed Mercator got to his famous projection-method, and also because Mercator clearly was religiously inspired.

  • Mary
    2019-03-06 10:36

    Interesting life story, interesting tale of how maps came to be the way they are today.

  • Libby
    2019-02-23 11:12

    Absolutely fascinating, I was spell bound History unraveling before my eyes Crane is a wonderful writer!

  • Aneel
    2019-03-24 07:37

    I didn't actually finish this. It was too dense, and focused on Mercator's life rather than his work. Perhaps I would have enjoyed the later chapters more.

  • Rk Wild
    2019-03-10 11:35

    Dry history of 16th century map-making technology, and the revolutionary thinking behind Mercatur's Projection. Yea, interesting, but a bit of a slog.

  • itpdx
    2019-03-08 07:12

    This should be fascinating but it keeps putting me to sleep. I got to page 110.

  • Mark Johnson
    2019-03-20 06:09

    It really took me back to the 16th century, to feel what life was like and to appreciate the amazing tenacity and drive of people like Mercator. It brings history alive.