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Magnificent Maps: Power, Propaganda and Art
Synopses & Reviews
The twentieth century was a golden age of mapmaking, an era of cartographic boom. Maps proliferated and permeated almost every aspect of daily life, not only chronicling geography and history but also charting and conveying myriad political and social agendas. Here Tim Bryars and Tom Harper select one hundred maps from the millions printed, drawn, or otherwise constructed during the twentieth century and recount through them a narrative of the centuryand#8217;s key events and developments.
As Bryars and Harper reveal, maps make ideal narrators, and the maps in this book tell the story of the 1900sand#151;which saw two world wars, the Great Depression, the Swinging Sixties, the Cold War, feminism, leisure, and the Internet. Several of the maps have already gained recognition for their historical significanceand#151;for example, Harry Beckand#8217;s iconic London Underground mapand#151;but the majority of maps on these pages have rarely, if ever, been seen in print since they first appeared. There are maps that were printed on handkerchiefs and on the endpapers of books; maps that were used in advertising or propaganda; maps that were strictly official and those that were entirely commercial; maps that were printed by the thousand, and highly specialist maps issued in editions of just a few dozen; maps that were envisaged as permanent keepsakes of major events, and maps that were relevant for a matter of hours or days.
As much a pleasure to view as it is to read, A History of the Twentieth Century in 100 Maps celebrates the visual variety of twentieth century maps and the hilarious, shocking, or poignant narratives of the individuals and institutions caught up in their production and use.
Maps are often as much a visual art form as they are a practical tool for navigation. Of particular visual interest are display maps—maps that often used size and beauty to convey messages of regional and social status and power. Despite their historical significance, many of these display maps have been lost and destroyed over time. Magnificent Maps brings together the best surviving examples in order to illustrate their role in early modern Europe and describe the settings in which they were displayed.
Most of the maps collected in Magnificent Maps date from the period 1450 to 1800, the heyday of this approach to mapping. During their time, these maps were displayed in a range of settings, from palaces to schoolrooms to bedchambers, and Peter Barber and Tom Harper here offer vivid descriptions of their original settings and examine their dual roles as propaganda and art.
Drawn from one of the greatest collections in the world at the British Library, many of these maps will be completely new even to experts. The unusual aspect of cartography presented in Magnificent Maps will appeal to collectors, historians, mapmakers and users, as well as anyone curious about the many ways we have come to illustrate and define our world.
About the Author
Peter Barber is head of map collections at the British Library. He is the author of many bestselling and critically acclaimed books on the history of maps and mapmaking, including Tales from the Map Room, Lie of the Land, and The Map Book.
Tom Harper is curator of antiquarian mapping at the British Library.
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