"A Mind-Expanding Exploration of the Way the World Looks"
Today on ST, we speak with the bestselling author of "Just My Type" and other works of wide-ranging, culturally- or historically-driven nonfiction, Simon Garfield. His new book, "On the Map: A Mind-Expanding Exploration of the Way the World Looks," is just out. It's a detailed yet accessible survey of the age-old relationship between man and map, if you will, a study of why we as human beings are (and always have been) so fixated upon mapping things. Cartography, after all, seems to be as defining a characteristic for us (as a species) as, say, language or creativity or play. But this book is a study not just of maps themselves --- the maps of yesterday, today, and tomorrow, that is --- it's also a multifaceted group portrait of those who love maps, or live by them, or else re-imagine them. As a critic of "On the Map" has noted for the British newspaper The Guardian: "[This book is] boisterous and bustling.... Garfield is at his best when describing the human face of map history, the 'boastful dealers, finicky surveyors, guesswork philosophers, profligate collectors, unreliable navigators, whistling ramblers, inexperienced globe-makers, nervous curators, hot neuroscientists, and lusting conquistadors' responsible for the creation, publication, and usage of some of the western world's chief cartographical landmarks. And as one might expect from the author of 'Just My Type,' he is also fascinated by print culture, by maps as physical objects, and by stories of their printing and dissemination through a rarefied world of dealers, curators, and collectors."