My review of A History of the World in Twelve Maps

A History of the World in Twelve MapsA History of the World in Twelve Maps by Jerry Brotton

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

October 23, 2014 – Why am I still reading this book after more than two and a half months, and I am only two-thirds through it? I have asked myself this question. This is not an easy read. The author shows himself to be very erudite, maybe to a fault, and uses words I have to look up. (And I taught high school English for sixteen years). He is so scholarly about the minutiae of history that I am sure only graduate students could be interested. But yet it is fascinating. It puts me into other times and other great minds that were motivated by the same things I see on the evening news—politics, science, religion, money, power, technology. It shows the human struggle over the millennia to communicate new knowledge in new ways. Although I only read a few pages a night, how can I put down a book that illuminates the minds of others who have shaped our present knowledge? How modern they seem in a world that is still exploring ways to map our universe.

Update 2/14/2015 – Finally finished last night. I could only manage a few pages a night, but I could not stop reading this lengthy tome. Little by little it shed light on the process of creating maps; but more importantly, it revealed the challenges of mapping a globe on a plane and the human motivation to create maps. From Ptolemy to Google it expanded my universe. I will never look at a map in the same way again.

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2 thoughts on “My review of A History of the World in Twelve Maps

  1. John Klonick says:


    Ran across your very nice blog tonight while looking up info on our “Big Kitties” aka Mountain Lions…we’re “Hill Tribe” members, residing for the last 25+ years down Bohlman from you, with an On Orbit address.

    After reading your recent post about finishing your book about maps, I thought you might want to check out a different kind of story about maps, involving the theft of rare maps. I read this non-fiction book several years ago and was impressed not only by the crime aspects but by the discussion of the strategic importance of maps and their impact on history. The book is : The Island of Lost Maps: A True Story of Cartographic Crime, by Miles Harvey.

    Here’s the link on Amazon:

    It’s also available at the Saratoga Library:

    Best Regards–

    John Klonick

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