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  • Writer's pictureNZ Booklovers

The Atlas of Atlases by Philip Parker

The Atlas of Atlases is an absolute cracker. As someone not so au fait with cartography there was little prior knowledge to build any kind of connection. Yet, the history of atlases is enthralling. Absolutely fascinating to see the social, political, and often controversial history of something that has been taken for granted in modern times. The construction of these early maps is filled with intriguing narratives and rather dubious interpretations that benefitted the discoverer more than the society.

It is an enigmatic tale. An adventure story in and of itself. Broken into ten easily accessible sections, The Atlas of Atlases charts the history of cartography from the early hand-drawn examples from the early pioneers and explorers through to the impact of war and the division of nations, and finally to the advent of modern satellite technology that completely adjusted all thoughts about map making.

Progressing through the ages and with accompanying information that explores and explains the rationale behind the decisions that were made in the construction of these artefacts, Philip Parker is meticulous in his research into each of the presented examples and the anecdotes that accompany each.

It is hard to conceive of the importance of those little lines on the page and the way that they have shaped modern history. However, one has to just look at the conflicts that have happened throughout history and the land-grabbing attempts that have happened to understand their importance. There have been huge conflicts over the delineation of countries on these maps and the implications of many many lives lost as a result of the battles and skirmishes.

The book is beautiful, with excellent writing to explain the magnificent pictures throughout. The coffee table-styled outcome is as much a thing of beauty as it is of information.

The Atlas of Atlases fills in the picture of our history in a way that no other medium could. It highlights the impasse created by ink on a page and the implications that have shaped our history. Highly recommended and well worth the read!

Reviewer: Chris Reed

The Ivy Press


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