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Cartographia: Mapping Civilizations    by Vincent Virga & The Library of Congress order for
by Vincent Virga
Order:  USA  Can
Little, Brown & Co., 2007 (2007)

Read an Excerpt

* * *   Reviewed by Tim Davis

Would you like to travel to far away places and discover locations that are famous, legendary, exotic, unusual, memorable, and (in many cases) absolutely inaccessible because of time and distance? And would you enjoy being completely carried away by your imagination and intellectual curiosity? Well, prepare yourself to be thoroughly swept away by a beautiful new book.

Overflowing with more than two hundred of the most beautiful, important, and fascinating maps in existence (carefully selected from the five million maps in the Geography and Map Division of the Library of Congress), Vincent Virga's Cartographia: Mapping Civilizations is a sumptuous, breath-taking excursion through history.

Virga's illuminating narrative history, which accompanies the hundreds of illustrations, takes readers to the Mediterranean worlds of the Babylonians, Egyptians, Greeks, Etruscans, and Romans; to the Holy Land and the world of Islam; to Asia, Africa, Europe, and the Americas through the centuries; and to the outer-limits of the world's oceans and Antarctica.

The beautiful maps, however, 'show us more than the land they detail; they are also a reflection of the attitudes, culture, and time in which they are made. {...} These maps, in their amazingly various forms, are pieces of living history, from man's earliest imaginings of the world through the mapping of cyberspace and the human genome.'

I cannot say this emphatically enough (and mere words cannot do justice to what readers will discover for themselves within the pages of Cartographia): Unlike any atlas ever previously published, Virga's book is a dazzling, singularly splendid vision of the world and of people's places within it. As a browser's paradise, Cartographia is a perfect destination.

To say it another way, this coffee-table book is an exquisite publishing achievement that belongs in every book-lover's library, and if you buy only one book this year, this must be the one.

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