Book Review — Brilliant Maps for Curious Minds: 100 New Ways to See the World


Ian Wright presents many interesting looks at our world and culture in Brilliant Maps for Curious Minds. Maps are able to convey much more meaning in a smaller space than words. Our minds seem to grasp a map of the world and we recognize Canada, China, Japan, Brazil, Australia, Great Britain, Germany, and so on. That line drawing of political borders of the world contains much more information than what readily appears. We see the lines forming the border of France and think Paris, wine, Notre Dame, Camus, Louis XIV, Napolean, and the Eiffel Tower. The simple line maps trigger shortcuts to information in our brains.

When additional information is added to the map, it becomes much more. Listing the countries that have a population smaller than Greater Tokyo would fade from memory quickly, but seeing the countries shaded in on a map leaves a much stronger impression. A simple map explains the difference between England, Great Britain, and the United Kingdom more readily than words. Sometimes maps can mislead because a three-dimensional globe cannot be made two-dimensional without losing accuracy. A set of maps here show the real size of continents against their size in commonly used Mercator Projections. Greenland is nowhere near as large as it appears and Africa is much larger. All the landmass of the world can easily fit in the Pacific Ocean.

The maps in this book explore many aspects from average female height in nations to which countries have relations with North Korea and Israel. There is also a map that displays the languages of India and the original plan for its partition. There are maps of trading partners and countries with a GPD greater than California. Wright presents an informative and entertaining look at the political, cultural, economic, and geographical aspects of our planet using only maps and legends.

Available November 1, 2019

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