An updated edition of the classic, much praised history of cartography. It traces the adventures, discoveries, and feats of technical ingenuity by which mapmakers, over the centuries, have succeeded in charting first the surface of the globe, then the earth's interior and the ocean floors, and finally the moon and the planets of our solar system. The author has added three new chapters, as well as many updates and amplifications, to reflect the great changes that have taken place in mapmaking in the past two decades. The Mapmakers will continue to be the definitive book on this fascinating subject.The Greco-Egyptian emperor Ptolemy III made a shrewd hire when, in about 240 B.C., he appointed a bookworm and poet named Eratosthenes to be the librarian of the great Alexandrian Museum. Eratosthenes, derided by his envious colleagues as a second-stringer, nursed an insatiable curiosity about the natural world. Acting on hunches and sailors' reports, he decided to conduct an experiment to measure the earth's circumference, which he eventually reckoned to be 46,000 kilometers--a little far off the actual mark of 40,000 kilometers but close enough that both Eratosthenes and Ptolemy entered history as founding fathers of the modern science of cartography.
In this vigorous history of maps and their creators, New York Times science writer John Noble Wilford recounts the accomplishments of dozens of cartographers from many cultures and times, among them Gerardus Mercator, Francis Beaufort, Charles Mason, and Jean Fernel. Ranging from ancient Chinese scrolls to the latest satellite images of distant planets, he renders a history full of "heroics and everyday routine, of personal and national rivalries, of influential mistakes and brilliant insights." He also reviews key scientific and technological advances that have accompanied the rise of modern maps, among them the development of fractal geometry, geosynchronous displays, remote sensing, and ever more accurate surveying instruments and techniques. --Gregory McNamee