Book of the Week on BBC Radio 4
BBC Radio 4, 8-12 October 2012
Simon Garfield offers nothing less than a history of the ancient and
modern worlds, as evidenced through the ways in which they tried to map the worlds around them. The approach is very
reminiscent of that adopted in the 1990s television series Tales from the Map Room: the book comprises narratives
of the ways in which people viewed the world, and hence rewrote their histories. From Ptolemy in the ancient world,
to Columbus, to the modern-day satnav; everyone redraws the world according to their preoccupations at a particular point
The method might be familiar, but the execution is highly entertaining. In
Nigel Lambert's reading for the Book of the Week slot, we were introduced to a variety of tales, from the origins,
growth and decline of pocket maps, to the mapping of Skyrim, to the challenges of mapping the Americas and Antarctica.
If nothing else, Garfield's book is a testament to human endeavour; the brilliance of the mathematician, the perseverance
of the explorer, the innovation of the scientist.