100 books like The History of Cartography, Volume 3

By David Woodward,

Here are 100 books that The History of Cartography, Volume 3 fans have personally recommended if you like The History of Cartography, Volume 3. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of The Imaginative Landscape of Christopher Columbus

Toby Lester Author Of The Fourth Part of the World: An Astonishing Epic of Global Discovery, Imperial Ambition, and the Birth of America

From my list on geographical ideas behind the age of discovery.

Who am I?

I’m a writer and an editor with eclectic interests. I’ve published two books of popular history—Da Vinci's Ghost (2012), about Leonardo da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man, and The Fourth Part of the World (2009), about the map that gave America its name. I’ve also written extensively for national publications on such topics as the sociology of new religious movements, privacy protection in the Internet age, the Voynich manuscript, the revisionist study of the Qur’an, the revival of ancient Greek music, and alphabet reform in Azerbaijan. I’m presently a senior editor at the Harvard Business Review and a contributing editor at The Atlantic. From 1988-1990, I served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Yemen.

Toby's book list on geographical ideas behind the age of discovery

Toby Lester Why did Toby love this book?

This is a lapidary introduction to the stories and ideas that prompted Columbus to sail away from Europe into the Atlantic in search of a direct sea route to Asia—and that determined how he interpreted what he came across after making landfall in the Americas. In just 200 pages, Flint nimbly covers all sorts of material: Christian theories of cosmology and eschatology; medieval conceptions of geography; the travel stories of St. Brendan, Sinbad the Sailor, Sir John Mandeville, and Marco Polo; the books that Columbus read, and the notes he made in them to himself; and more. In doing so, she reanimates a fascinating landscape of the imagination.

By Valerie Irene Jane Flint,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Imaginative Landscape of Christopher Columbus as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Rather than focusing on the well-rehearsed facts of Columbus's achievements in the New World, Valerie Flint looks instead at his imaginative mental images, the powerful "fantasies" that gave energy to his endeavors in the Renaissance. With him on his voyages into the unknown, he carried medieval notions gleaned from a Mediterranean tradition of tall tales about the sea, from books he had read, and from the mappae-mundi, splendid schematic maps with fantastic inhabitants. After investigating these sources of Columbus's views, Flint explains how the content of his thinking influenced his reports on his discoveries. Finally, she argues that problems besetting…


Book cover of The Story of Maps

Toby Lester Author Of The Fourth Part of the World: An Astonishing Epic of Global Discovery, Imperial Ambition, and the Birth of America

From my list on geographical ideas behind the age of discovery.

Who am I?

I’m a writer and an editor with eclectic interests. I’ve published two books of popular history—Da Vinci's Ghost (2012), about Leonardo da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man, and The Fourth Part of the World (2009), about the map that gave America its name. I’ve also written extensively for national publications on such topics as the sociology of new religious movements, privacy protection in the Internet age, the Voynich manuscript, the revisionist study of the Qur’an, the revival of ancient Greek music, and alphabet reform in Azerbaijan. I’m presently a senior editor at the Harvard Business Review and a contributing editor at The Atlantic. From 1988-1990, I served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Yemen.

Toby's book list on geographical ideas behind the age of discovery

Toby Lester Why did Toby love this book?

You can certainly find more recent surveys of the history of cartography, but this accessible work, first published in 1949, still stands out as an engaging and enlightening survey of the territory. Lloyd Brown begins his story some 2000 years ago, in Alexandria, Egypt, with the ancient Greeks and Romans, whose geographical ideas came together in the work of Claudius Ptolemy, and he then goes on, in an enjoyable narrative style, to show how scholars and monks and merchants and sailors and scientists all contributed to the art of mapmaking. The first half of the book provides an excellent summary of the kinds of maps that thinkers and travelers would have been familiar with by the time the Age of Discovery got underway.

By Lloyd A. Brown,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Story of Maps as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"An important and scholarly work; bringing together much information available heretofore only in scattered sources … easily readable." — Gerald I. Alexander, F.R.G.S. Cartographer, Map Division, New York Public Library
Early map making was characterized by secrecy. Maps were precious documents, drawn by astrologers and travelers, worn out through use or purposely destroyed. Just as men first mapped the earth indirectly, via the sun and stars, so must the history of maps be approached circuitously, through chronicles, astronomy, Strabo and Ptolemy, seamanship, commerce, politics. From the first determination of latitude 2000 years ago through the dramatic unraveling of longitude 1700…


Book cover of The Tropics of Empire: Why Columbus Sailed South to the Indies

Toby Lester Author Of The Fourth Part of the World: An Astonishing Epic of Global Discovery, Imperial Ambition, and the Birth of America

From my list on geographical ideas behind the age of discovery.

Who am I?

I’m a writer and an editor with eclectic interests. I’ve published two books of popular history—Da Vinci's Ghost (2012), about Leonardo da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man, and The Fourth Part of the World (2009), about the map that gave America its name. I’ve also written extensively for national publications on such topics as the sociology of new religious movements, privacy protection in the Internet age, the Voynich manuscript, the revisionist study of the Qur’an, the revival of ancient Greek music, and alphabet reform in Azerbaijan. I’m presently a senior editor at the Harvard Business Review and a contributing editor at The Atlantic. From 1988-1990, I served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Yemen.

Toby's book list on geographical ideas behind the age of discovery

Toby Lester Why did Toby love this book?

When the story of Christopher Columbus gets told, it’s typically as a tale of his having sailed west to get quickly to the east. But in this gorgeously produced, exhaustively researched study, Nicolás Wey-Gómez argues that to understand Columbus and his story properly, you have to understand it as a story about voyages to the south. Columbus inherited a powerful set of assumptions about the nature and peoples found in southern latitudes, and it’s those assumptions, Wey-Gómez contends, that allowed Columbus and the many Europeans that followed him to the New World to justify their various colonial enterprises.

By Nicolás Wey Gómez,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Tropics of Empire as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A radical revision of the geographical history of the discovery of the Americas that links Columbus's southbound route with colonialism, slavery, and today's divide between the industrialized North and the developing South.

Everyone knows that in 1492 Christopher Columbus sailed west across the Atlantic, seeking a new route to the East. Few note, however, that Columbus's intention was also to sail south, to the tropics. In The Tropics of Empire, Nicolás Wey Gómez rewrites the geographical history of the discovery of the Americas, casting it as part of Europe's reawakening to the natural and human resources of the South. Wey…


Book cover of Ptolemy’s Geography in the Renaissance

Toby Lester Author Of The Fourth Part of the World: An Astonishing Epic of Global Discovery, Imperial Ambition, and the Birth of America

From my list on geographical ideas behind the age of discovery.

Who am I?

I’m a writer and an editor with eclectic interests. I’ve published two books of popular history—Da Vinci's Ghost (2012), about Leonardo da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man, and The Fourth Part of the World (2009), about the map that gave America its name. I’ve also written extensively for national publications on such topics as the sociology of new religious movements, privacy protection in the Internet age, the Voynich manuscript, the revisionist study of the Qur’an, the revival of ancient Greek music, and alphabet reform in Azerbaijan. I’m presently a senior editor at the Harvard Business Review and a contributing editor at The Atlantic. From 1988-1990, I served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Yemen.

Toby's book list on geographical ideas behind the age of discovery

Toby Lester Why did Toby love this book?

In the first century A.D., the ancient Greek polymath Claudius Ptolemy produced a work known today simply as the Geography. Ptolemy described the world as the Greeks and Romans knew it at the time—and he did so using latitude and longitude. The Geography largely disappeared from view in Europe during the Middle Ages, as did latitude and longitude on maps, but in the early 1400s the humanists of Florence rediscovered and revived the work, in ways that dramatically improved their understanding of the ancient world and their ability to explore and map it in the present. Shalev and Burnett present a set of scholarly essays that trace the history and the influence of the Geography during that momentous century.

By Zur Shalev, Charles Burnett,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Ptolemy’s Geography in the Renaissance as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The rediscovery of Ptolemy’s Geography has long been hailed as a key moment in the emergence of Renaissance culture, symbolizing a new rational spatiality, and preparing the way for the Age of Discovery. And yet, the process of the Geography’s introduction, integration and impact in western Europe, as the essays in this volume collectively suggest, was more complex and less predictable than has been traditionally assumed. Whereas previously Ptolemy’s maps attracted most scholarly attention, in this volume the textual tradition of the Geography – Ptolemy’s text, added prefaces, annotations and treatises – stand at the centre. Bringing together a wealth…


Book cover of Sea Monsters on Medieval and Renaissance Maps

Georgia Irby Author Of Conceptions of the Watery World in Greco-Roman Antiquity

From my list on how to read maps.

Who am I?

I still remember the day I discovered the family atlas (I must have about five; it then lived in my room, and my dad was probably irked, but too kind and encouraging to show it). Since then, I have been mesmerized by maps. How lucky I am to turn an early passion into a focus of research and teaching (I am a Classicist and Historian of Ancient Science). My publications include studies of narrative maps in Greco-Roman literature (they too were mesmerized by maps). You can find maps in the most unexpected places!

Georgia's book list on how to read maps

Georgia Irby Why did Georgia love this book?

Finally, you can’t talk about maps and not talk about sea monsters.

Want to buy a sea monster? Van Duzer tells you how! Given my professional (and personal) interest in cartography, water, sailing, and animals, this book absolutely had to appear on my “Best Books” list. It is very richly illustrated (115 color images), but is not simply a picture book.

Van Duzer’s narrative is engaging and informative. He explores terrifying and whimsical marine creatures that peopled Medieval and Renaissance waters (many are imaginary; some are more or less based on actual sea animals). And he situates them within the broader context of the individual maps, their impact, and marine biology.

Van Duzer thus helps his audience read European Medieval and Renaissance Maps more fully and richly. 

By Chet van Duzer,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Sea Monsters on Medieval and Renaissance Maps as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The sea monsters on medieval and Renaissance maps, whether swimming vigorously, gambolling amid the waves, attacking ships, or simply displaying themselves for our appreciation, are one of the most visually engaging elements on these maps, and yet they have never been carefully studied. The subject is important not only in the history of cartography, art, and zoological illustration, but also in the history of the geography of the 'marvellous' and of western conceptions of the ocean. Moreover, the sea monsters depicted on maps can supply important insights into the sources, influences, and methods of the cartographers who drew or painted…


Book cover of Renaissance Ethnography and the Invention of the Human: New Worlds, Maps and Monsters

Asa Simon Mittman Author Of The Ashgate Research Companion to Monsters and the Monstrous

From my list on explaining the history of monsters.

Who am I?

Growing up, I rewatched Star Wars until I wore out my VHS tape. I read every Dragonlance novel. I played a bit of D&D. When I got to college, I finally was allowed work on things that interested me. I found Art History, dove into Medieval Studies, and, in grad school, got serious about monsters. Monster Studies didn’t exist, but books were out (especially by Jeffrey Jerome Cohen), and my advisor encouraged me to follow my passions. My 15-year-old self would be astonished to learn that I’d get to read monster books, study monster art, and watch monster movies as a job!

Asa's book list on explaining the history of monsters

Asa Simon Mittman Why did Asa love this book?

This is a brilliant, wide-ranging, deeply-sourced study of the dynamics that underpinned and justified early modern colonization of the Americas. Mandeville’s Book of Marvels and Travels is the prehistory of the horrors of colonization; the sources at the heart of Davies’s study are colonization’s architecture: maps, book illustrations, freestanding prints, published texts, letters, journals, and on. With nuance and care, Davies rewrites the intellectual history of this period, confronting the dehumanizing, demonizing, monsterizing visual and textual rhetoric of colonial enterprises (which directly contributed to large-scale violence), but also looking carefully at nuances, differences, and shifts in this rhetoric over the course of the Renaissance.

By Surekha Davies,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Renaissance Ethnography and the Invention of the Human as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Giants, cannibals and other monsters were a regular feature of Renaissance illustrated maps, inhabiting the Americas alongside other indigenous peoples. In a new approach to views of distant peoples, Surekha Davies analyzes this archive alongside prints, costume books and geographical writing. Using sources from Iberia, France, the German lands, the Low Countries, Italy and England, Davies argues that mapmakers and viewers saw these maps as careful syntheses that enabled viewers to compare different peoples. In an age when scholars, missionaries, native peoples and colonial officials debated whether New World inhabitants could - or should - be converted or enslaved, maps…


Book cover of Mapping an Empire: The Geographical Construction of British India, 1765-1843

Pamela K. Gilbert Author Of Mapping the Victorian Social Body

From my list on how epidemics relate to bigger narratives.

Who am I?

I began college as a science major, but then switched to literature from a minor to my major. In graduate school, as I worked on my dissertation (which became my first book), I found that metaphors of the body and health were everywhere in the literary field in the mid-nineteenth century. Suffice it to say that the sciences, including the rapid development of modern medicine, are both fundamental to this period and deeply shape its literary culture. In Mapping the Victorian Social Body, I became fascinated with the history of data visualization. Disease mapping completely transformed the ways we understand space and how our bodies exist within it.

Pamela's book list on how epidemics relate to bigger narratives

Pamela K. Gilbert Why did Pamela love this book?

A wonderful book on how techniques of mapping were central to the construction of both the empire and of an emerging idea of “India” as a coherent space. I love the way it clearly lays out how mapping is never simply an innocent process of measuring or describing something that exists out in the world, but is always a process of constructing that reality. And it is an essential part of the history of India, as well as the British empire. 

By Matthew H. Edney,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Mapping an Empire as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In this history of the British surveys of India, focusing especially on the Great Trigonometrical Survey (GTS) undertaken by the British East India Company, the author relates how imperial Britain employed modern scientific survey techniques not only to create and define the spacial inmage of its Indian empire, but also to legitimate its colonialist activities as triumphs of liberal, rational science bringing "Civilisation" to irrational, mystical and despotic Indians. The reshaping of cartographic technologies in Europe into their modern form played a key role in the use of the GTS as an instrument of British cartographic control over India. In…


Book cover of Mapping the World: An Illustrated History of Cartography

Kevin Cornell Author Of New in Town

From my list on world-building.

Who am I?

I believe stories to be our species’ instinctual tool for discovering our best selves. Sometimes those stories are about real people in the past, sometimes they’re completely imagined people in the future — sometimes we even swap out the humans for animals or aliens, or sassy anthropomorphized objects. Whatever the case, for a story to work its wonders, its details must be believable, or we reject its premise. These books help make a story believable, and, if you get the alchemy just right, those details can even help tell the story themselves.

Kevin's book list on world-building

Kevin Cornell Why did Kevin love this book?

You get a lot of insight into a culture from the maps they create. Not only how they view themselves, but how they view others around them. There have been times in history when cultures weren’t even concerned with their maps being geographically accurate— they were a tool for teaching religion, or indulging a yearning for the fantastic. This book gives an excellent overview as to the many ways humans have used, and designed, maps throughout the centuries.

By Ralph E. Ehrenberg,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Mapping the World as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Mapping the World is a one-of-a-kind collection of cartographic treasures that spans thousands of years and many cultures, from an ancient Babylonian map of the world etched on clay to the latest high-tech maps of the earth, seas, and the skies above. With more than one hundred maps and other illustrations and an introduction and running commentary by Ralph E. Ehrenberg, this book tells a fascinating story of geographic discovery, scientific invention, and the art and technique of mapmaking.

Mapping the World is organized chronologically with a brief introduction that places the maps in their historical context. Special "portfolios" within…


Book cover of Treasures from the Map Room: A Journey through the Bodleian Collections

Matt Duckham Author Of GIS: A Computing Perspective

From my list on maps and mapmaking.

Who am I?

I’ve been surrounded by maps all my life. As a child, a highlight of family summer holidays was the night before, pouring over road maps, planning every step of our drive from my home in rural English midlands, via the cross-channel ferry, to a rented gîte in France, perhaps in the Dordogne or the Loire Valley. Maps are to me a paragon of design: a true marriage of science and art. In an amazingly compressed space, a well-designed map can be incredibly beautiful at the same time as containing an incredible amount of raw data, more than could be contained in reams of tables or many pages of text. 

Matt's book list on maps and mapmaking

Matt Duckham Why did Matt love this book?

Maps are powerful, useful, functional objects. But mapmaking is also an art, with a long history and tradition of design. That indelible connection between the map room and the art gallery is what I enjoy most in this book.

Each map in this selection from the Bodleian Library at Oxford University is accompanied by a thoughtful reflection on the story behind the map and its impact. But it is the maps themselves, reproduced in rich color on high-density, fine-art-book quality paper, that are the main attractions here. I can, and have, spent many hours lost in an exploration of the flourishes, nooks, and curiosities of an individual map.

Immersing myself in an artful map from this book is to be transported to another time and place that is simultaneously endlessly strange and yet comfortingly familiar.  

By Debbie Hall (editor),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Treasures from the Map Room as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This book explores the stories behind seventy-five extraordinary maps. It includes unique treasures such as the fourteenth-century Gough Map of Great Britain, exquisite portolan charts made in the fifteenth century, the Selden Map of China - the earliest example of Chinese merchant cartography - and an early world map from the medieval Islamic Book of Curiosities, together with more recent examples of fictional places drawn in the twentieth century, such as C.S. Lewis's own map of Narnia and J.R.R. Tolkien's map of Middle Earth.

As well as the works of famous mapmakers Mercator, Ortelius, Blaeu, Saxton and Speed, the book…


Book cover of How Maps Work: Representation, Visualization, and Design

Danyel Fisher Author Of Making Data Visual: A Practical Guide to Using Visualization for Insight

From my list on to inspire you to think differently about data.

Who am I?

In sixth grade, my teacher tried to teach the class how to read line charts – and something fell into place for me. Ever since then, I’ve tried to sort data into forms that we can use to make sense of it. As a researcher at Microsoft, I consulted with teams across the organization – from sales to legal; and from Excel to XBox – to help them understand their data. At Honeycomb, I design tools for software operations teams to diagnose their complex systems. These books each gave me an “ah-hah” moment that made me think differently about the craft of creating visualization. They now sit on my shelf in easy reach – I hope you find them fascinating too.

Danyel's book list on to inspire you to think differently about data

Danyel Fisher Why did Danyel love this book?

Maps and data visualization live in my mind as close cousins: geographical coordinates are often the best way to show where data happens, and the techniques that cartographers have worked out can be adapted to the ways I represent visuals. Maps also have some interpretive advantages over abstract data: San Francisco is always west of Washington, DC. That’s not as true of information graphs, where their respective data points might move around depending on what is being plotted and what the axes are.

By Alan M. MacEachren,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked How Maps Work as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Now available in paperback for the first time, this classic work presents a cognitive-semiotic framework for understanding how maps work as powerful, abstract, and synthetic spatial representations. Explored are the ways in which the many representational choices inherent in mapping interact with information processing and knowledge construction, and how the resulting insights can be used to make informed symbolization and design decisions. A new preface to the paperback edition situates the book within the context of contemporary technologies. As the nature of maps continues to evolve, Alan MacEachren emphasizes the ongoing need to think systematically about the ways people interact…


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