Read The Mapmakers by John Noble Wilford Simon Garfield Online


Who hasn’t been fascinated by the names on a map, or stopped a spinning globe with their finger? Humans still long to discover what maps can tell us about ourselves, and the potential they hold to tell us about the rest of the universe.In a new introduction Simon Garfield, bestselling author of On the Map: Why the World Looks the Way it Does, describes The Mapmakers as a ‘Who hasn’t been fascinated by the names on a map, or stopped a spinning globe with their finger? Humans still long to discover what maps can tell us about ourselves, and the potential they hold to tell us about the rest of the universe.In a new introduction Simon Garfield, bestselling author of On the Map: Why the World Looks the Way it Does, describes The Mapmakers as a ‘magisterial sweep of cartographic wonders’, and speaks of the joy John Noble Wilford takes in these stories of discovery....

Title : The Mapmakers
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 32703955
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 512 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

The Mapmakers Reviews

  • Bethany Harvey
    2019-05-10 10:10

    This is a fascinating book on the history of cartography, and written at exactly the right level for an interested layperson with a decent general education. The information is dense without being impenetrable.I learned a ton of interesting facts, was frequently surprised by the order in which things happened and how much technology had been developed at certain time periods, and it explains some concepts of cartography that I vaguely remembered from elementary school so that I finally understood them this time.My only complaint isn't much of one: it's so thorough, and covers such a huge span of time, that I was only reading about ten pages at a time. Thus, it took forever to read, and by the end, even though I was still learning things, I was anxious to get through it. But that may be more a critique of my attention span than the book.

  • Erik Graff
    2019-05-26 12:55

    Although I'd read many books about explorers and exploration of the earth, I'd never read anything before specifically about cartography, i.e. the mapping of the planet. This book, arranged chronologically and thematically, handles it all, from the ancient Sumerians to the initial charting of Mars. The author, a science editor, nests his discussion within some description of his own experiences in mapping the Grand Canyon. Although treating of the mathematics and technologies behind cartography, he manages to avoid becoming too dry or too technical, making this a book accessible to a general readership.

  • Kelly
    2019-05-11 08:05

    This book is a detailed overview of the history of cartography from its earliest known origins to the space exploration days. The maps included were beautiful, and the writing style was straightforward and accessible to the layman for a somewhat niche topic.

  • Conor
    2019-05-22 10:05

    I'm kind of nerdy about maps. I just think they're cool. Reading about the evolution of cartography and the often harrowing ordeals mapmakers went through to greater understand our world was a joy.

  • Sarah TheAromaofBooks
    2019-05-21 11:05

    Wow, I cannot believe that I finally finished this one! Full review to come - overall decent book, although it had its weaknesses.

  • Chelsea
    2019-05-25 08:19

    More reviews available at my blog, Beauty and the Bookworm.I picked The Mapmakers up probably a year and a half ago while perusing the gift shop at the Smithsonian Air and Space museum; I'm pretty sure I was there to watch Interstellar on the IMAX screen. I'm not a big Air and Space fan (I favor the American and Natural History museums) but this book and a seemingly-related one in topic, A History of the World in 12 Maps, caught my eye, so I picked them up while I was there. And they have languished on my shelf ever since. I finally pegged The Mapmakers as a book to fulfill a reading challenge category for 2016, but it took me more than a month to get through it because, honestly, this book wasn't that interesting.The Mapmakers purports to be about the people who make maps and who have shaped the history and processes of that making, but honestly, it's not. There might be snippets about one person or another, like the guy who invented the chronograph and made finding one's position at sea much easier, but these never last more than a page or two. The author's focus is much more on the evolving technologies of cartography than the people who actually employed them.The book also feels woefully dated. This is purportedly an updated version--but the updates only carry through to the end of the 20th century, when GPS systems were just starting to become affordable and having them installed in cars was something shiny and new. The book is divided into four parts, the first two of which focus on the more ancient mapping aspects and the latter two of which are more "modern." And by modern, I mean that there's no mention of the Sojourner rover when mentioning mapping Mars, and no concept of where maps have actually gone. When this book was published, the author clearly had no idea (and really, not many people did, so I can't blame him) that people would be carrying around maps accurate to yards and feet in the palms of their hands via their iPhones, or that they would be using said maps on phones to follow around Pokemon conveniently hidden throughout their towns. But the fact of the matter is, mapping technology has advanced so far since this book was published that I couldn't help but have this sort of condescending, "Oh, that's so cute" attitude toward so many of the technologies that the author toted as groundbreaking. And yes, at the time, they were--but the book is frozen in time, as all books are, and it just seems out of touch as a consequence.Overall, the book was dated, the writing was boring, and the book didn't have the human element that I was hoping to find. The illustrations were not the beautiful maps that the author toted so often, but instead boring ones. It'd be hard to keep a book like this up-to-date especially in these days when advances are made so quickly, but this still wasn't the engaging read I had been hoping for.2 stars out of 5.

  • matteo
    2019-05-03 08:02

    A totally fascinating read about mapmakers and cartography that really opened my eyes to all the possibilities of mapmaking. I had never heard of some stuff, and other stuff I had never really had explained. Some of the history reads like adventure stories. It bogs down a little when it gets really technical or jargon-heavy, but there is so much good material to work with. It makes me like maps ever more.

  • Tom & Beverly
    2019-05-21 13:21

    This was a fascinating book explaining the history of map making. It really makes one appreciate maps and the wonder of GPS today

  • Jeff
    2019-05-05 07:57

    A fascinating book that makes the history of mapmaking and geography interesting. You don't have to be a geography major to enjoy this book.

  • Dante
    2019-05-15 08:54

    He takes the awesome stories of adventurers and explorers, includes the dry stuff of science and mathematics, and somehow it comes out all together even better than either one!

  • Jharper2
    2019-04-27 07:23

    One might think that the story and concept of mapmaking might be dull, by Mr Wilford makes it come alive. From the beginnings in ancient times in Egypt and China, to the present mappng of Mars and the Moon, he tells the story clearly, which is always important in scientific tales. He starts with the concept of maps, and then precedes from the mapping of sea routes and the determination of the circumference of the world to the mapping of the whole world. The methods used were ingenious and the mapmakers no less so. He clearly explains the uses and downsides of the various projections that attempt to map a three dimensional reality to a two dimensional plane. One new concept to me was that gravity varies in different places on the earth depending on the density and mass of the earth and also varies by nearby objects such as large mountains. He details how mapmakers were first lead astray and then used this concept.Nor were the chapters of recent times any less fascinating. Wilford detailed how the advances in photography and radar coupled with the use of aviation finally made possible the final mapping of the entire world. Then fascinatingly he describes how these techniques were used to map the moon to a high level of precision in advance of the moon landings and by then by the following Apollo missions. And Mars was mapped a few years following! All in all a fascinating story, well told.

  • Jerry Jessee
    2019-05-10 06:56

    I read a few chapters closely. Skimmed the rest. The book is well written and comprehensive. You'll learn a lot about cartography. The history is, well, poor. The analysis is unabashedly presentist. The historical protagonists are categorized into the modern rational good guys and superstitious, irrational fools. If you want good historical analysis that explores the context for why people believed what they did about the world, you'll not find it here. Read with a grain of salt and a critical eye.

  • Ann
    2019-04-27 11:54

    Thanks alisa! One of the best nonfiction books.......learned a lot about surveying, cartography, and history.....fabulous....j.ust made me want to get a sextant and quadrant and start plotting stars, mts. and borders.... great stuff. A bit dense, but read at least a chapter a day....

  • Toni Moore
    2019-05-10 07:14

    "The Mapmakers" takes almost 500 pages to describe 3,000 years of mapmaking history and technology, but the story author John Noble Wilford tells is engaging enough to keep your interest until the end. He clearly explains the geometry and trigonometry of mapmaking, from its primitive beginnings to today's technological wizardry allowing Earth to be mapped from space. However, my favorite parts of the book are the colorful stories of the pioneers of mapmaking, such as Gerardus Mercator, who developed the famous Mercator projection; the Cassini family, who produced -- over four generations, from 1673 until about 1800 -- the first map of France; and John Harrison, who created an early version of the marine chronometer, which allowed sailors to accurately determine their longitude while at sea. Wilford himself accompanied a group in the early 1970s that resurveyed the main part of the Grand Canyon. He effectively uses his experience with surveying and mapmaking to frame the story of mapmaking. Wilford knows his stuff; he became science writer for The New York Times in 1965 and has won two Pulitzer Prizes. Though now retired, he still writes occasional articles for the Times. If you want to know how maps are made or how early explorers and surveyors mapped unknown lands, this book is for you. I highly recommend it.

  • Brendan
    2019-05-23 11:24

    The best part of this book was actually due to when it was written - pre-google maps where anyone can pull up ultra high quality satellite photometry + GPS + Road Atlas + more. The point of view is priceless -- Wilford reminds us that c.a. 1980 we ere still in a different era and showed the steps out.Otherwise it was, as I've seen a few other point out, an excellent read for someone who wants a good Survey of the history of cartography but without it being totally dumbed down.The only reason I 4 star it is, despite my own high interest in the subject and the book, I still wound up getting bogged down more then once. Some sections got into the minutiae a bit too much. I enjoyed the overview the book was providing and when it began dropping into the small details of certain sections I just lost interest.Also, the map quality is pretty bad -- I recommend reading it near a computer so you can pull up high res images of the maps in question and enjoy them for real.

  • Mary
    2019-04-30 04:56

    This one took me a while to get through, but it was an absolutely fantastic read! The book spanned the history of cartography, and the end explored mapping beyond the Earth. I particularly enjoyed the first sections about mapping in antiquity. I also agreed with the authors discussion of the ‘completeness’ of mapmaking. It’s so odd to think that we don’t have perfect, accurate maps of the world yet. Although the book was published before Google maps! Regardless, I loved the breadth of this book, and the writing was fantastic. Not for everyone, but I really enjoyed this complete history. A book I’ll turn to again in the future, I think.

  • Emma
    2019-05-05 07:24

    I read this and I read 'Maps and Civilisation'. I like learning about cartography, but with both books I stopped reading when they got to about the 1940s as I'm more interested in the older developments, so I can't vouch for the last quarter of either book, but what I read was interesting. Just yesterday I threw a trivial cartographical factoid into a conversation so that was time well spent.

  • Robert
    2019-05-17 12:18

    Mapmakers is nothing short of amazing. From the very beginning, you sense the authors skill at storytelling historical facts. Somewhat akin to "Brief History of Nearly Everything" yet this details how maps are created. In every sense of the words.

  • Mads
    2019-05-20 13:24

    I love the early days of map-making. The India Survey was entrancing what with the secret agents and specialized tools for surreptitious measurements. When mapping became the work of satellites and machines, an exciting age ended.

  • Peter Corke
    2019-05-19 13:13

    I really liked the classical map-making part, when it was seriously hard work with theodolites and temporary wooden towers. That's the first 2/3 of the book. The modern stuff with satellites and GPS just seems less romantic and challenging, but I just love the historical stuff.

  • Mike
    2019-05-06 05:05

    I like geography, and maps, and atlas', and this historical book did not disappoint me. The book is also about topography, and surveying and historical leaders of what evolved to today's maps. The book is dry, interesting, but you must be very fond of this topic.

  • Brownshoebrian
    2019-05-06 06:55

    I like the stuff about mapping the old world. I don't really care about GPS or mapping space.

  • Elaine
    2019-05-23 09:58

    John Noble Wilford does a wonderful job of making what would seem to be a very dry subject an entertaining read

  • Greg Good
    2019-05-19 08:13

    Somewhat dated now, but such a good writer.

  • Regina
    2019-05-06 09:12

    the story of real people solving the great problems of their day with science and art.

  • Alex
    2019-05-10 09:01

    I have to remember not to pick up books that look interesting without researching them. I wanted to like this so bad...but it's totally boring.

  • Mrsculpepper
    2019-05-26 08:09

    absolutely fascinating. i have to admit i didn't realize there had been so many mars missions prior to the rovers.

  • Peter
    2019-05-18 06:18

    Fabulous book if you have an interest in cartography. Highly accessible and interesting.

  • Erebmann
    2019-04-28 06:01

    Well-done narrative style up to the 1980s when the story telling technique no longer seems to work