History of the World in Maps: The Rise and Fall of Empires, Countries, and Cities

Ashworth, Mick & . HarperCollins UK, dist. by Trafalgar Square. Nov. 2016. 256p. illus. maps. index. ISBN 9780008147792. pap. $45. HIST
OrangeReviewStarWorld histories related using various objects had "a moment" recently; one such title was Tim Bryars and Tom Harper's A History of the Twentieth Century in 100 Maps (see Readers who enjoyed that book, or who appreciate history with a visual slant, will also savor this more ambitious work that covers the world from 1500 BCE (a map of a Babylonian town on a clay tablet) to today's Google Maps. Included in between, in sections on various eras, are gorgeously reproduced images that illustrate the spirit of their times—in "The Age of Discovery," for example, are nautical charts. The entries, each accompanied by notes on the relevant historical period and on the map itself, fall into three categories: maps that show their makers' growing knowledge of the world; those that illustrate cartographic advances; and others that document political events. The maps also confirm the idea that winners write history: the entries were often created as tools of colonial expansion, or at least reflect a world in which colonial powers and their minions were the only subjects of cartography.
VERDICT An absorbing browse as well as a valuable companion to history classes.

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