A STUNNINGLY ILLUSTRATED BOOK REVEALING THE GREATEST MYTHS, LIES AND BLUNDERS ON MAPS
'Highly recommended' - Andrew Marr
'A spectacular, enjoyable and eye-opening read' - Jonathan Ross
The Phantom Atlas is an atlas of the world not as it ever existed, but as it was thought to be. These marvellous and mysterious phantoms - non-existent islands, invented mountain ranges, mythical civilisations and other fictitious geography - were all at various times presented as facts on maps and atlases. This book is a collection of striking antique maps that display the most erroneous cartography, with each illustration accompanied by the story behind it.
Exploration, map-making and mythology are all brought together to create a colourful tapestry of monsters, heroes and volcanoes; swindlers, mirages and murderers. Sometimes the stories are almost impossible to believe, and remarkably, some of the errors were still on display in maps published in the 21st century. Throughout much of the 19th century more than 40 different mapmakers included the Mountains of Kong, a huge range of peaks stretching across the entire continent of Africa, in their maps - but it was only in 1889 when Louis Gustave Binger revealed the whole thing to be a fake. For centuries, explorers who headed to Patagonia returned with tales of the giants they had met who lived there, some nine feet tall. Then there was Gregor MacGregor, a Scottish explorer who returned to London to sell shares in a land he had discovered in South America. He had been appointed the Cazique of Poyais, and bestowed with many honours by the local king of this unspoiled paradise. Now he was offering others the chance to join him and make their fortune there, too - once they had paid him a bargain fee for their passage...
The Phantom Atlas is a beautifully produced volume, packed with stunning maps and drawingsof places and people that never existed. The remarkable stories behind them all are brilliantly told by Edward Brooke-Hitching in a book that will appeal to cartophiles everywhere.
This collection of cartographic errors from maps throughout history provides an entertaining glimpse into the spread of misinformation during the age of exploration. Brooke-Hitching (Fox Tossing) arranges his subjects alphabetically and begins with the "Strait of Anian," a misconceived western terminus to the Northwest Passage from the 14th century, and ends with the "Zeno Map," based on an unsubstantiated exploration of the North Atlantic by the Zeno brothers in the 15th century. Reproductions of mistaken maps accompany each entry, along with theories of the errors' possible origins and accounts of their final erasures from the annals of geography. Some entries are for places that exist, but at one point were improperly described, as with a California that appears as its own island on hundreds of maps from the 17th and 18th centuries, a mistake that the author tracks back to the 1602 voyage of Sebastian Vizca no. Though much of the book covers familiar ground in documenting accounts of nonexistent lands such as Atlantis, El Dorado, Hy Brasil, and Thule, a section on the fantastic creatures, including the Sea Pig and the Hippocentaur, that appear in the marginalia of many maps sets this atlas apart from the mass of other books on the subject. Cartophiles will find much to amuse themselves. Color illus.