Book News

The main purpose of this book is to showcase the large collection of early European illustrated and illuminated maps held by the National Library of France. The text is subsidiary to the color photographs of these maps and portolans, which represent both full images and close-ups of illuminated details. A few photographs show early European navigational and timekeeping instruments or paintings of traveler's tales. The maps are mostly from the 13th through the 17th centuries, and were designed for sailors. The color reproductions are excellent, and the maps chosen here are both aesthetically beautiful and historically interesting. The book accompanies a traveling exhibit of the same name, and is designed for interested general readers. Annotation ©2014 Ringgold, Inc., Portland, OR (protoview.com)

Choice Reviews

This work is for the maritime enthusiast. Included are essays by a number of European authorities who elaborate upon locations, styles, and evolution of portolan charts from the late Middle Ages to the Age of Discovery. The early portolans were 12th-century parchment charts that initially described coastlines, ports, and havens, with special reference to the Mediterranean. Those charts were transformed as shipping took to the oceans of the world toward the end of the Middle Ages. The advance in shipping required enlarged and more detailed maps. Hoffman studies the impact of the Indian Ocean--with especial reference to the 16th and 17th centuries--with regard to cartography from both nautical and humanist positions. A glossary and list of exhibit pieces conclude a work of special interest to the historians of cartography. Color maps and other illustrations are a feature of this work. Summing Up: Recommended. All levels/libraries. General Readers; Lower-division Undergraduates; Upper-division Undergraduates; Graduate Students; Researchers/Faculty; Two-year Technical Program Students; Professionals/Practitioners. G. J. Martin emeritus, Southern Connecticut State University Copyright 2014 American Library Association.

Publishers Weekly Reviews

In the closing centuries of Europe's medieval age, that backward, isolated continent belatedly turned its gaze outward in search of trade and conquest. From that era of discovery came the Portolan charts, precursors of modern maps. Reproduced here in lavish full-color plates, this display of Portolan maps, many preserved at the National Library of France, documents Europe's expanding consciousness, its fumbling from blinkered ignorance to illumination and brief global dominance. The authors provide the historical context for these documents; the main body of the text is organized geographically, from the Mediterranean—so long the focus of insular European civilization—to the lands across the Atlantic and finally the traditional centers of human civilization on the far side of the Indian Ocean. Also included are appendices ranging from a lengthy bibliography to a full accounting of authors and photographers. From their roots in the 13th century to final decline in the 17th century, Portolan maps enshrined knowledge in works of magnificent artistry; the text and the high-resolution photographs document this flowering of creativity and curiosity. The work stands as one of scholarly love, like the maps themselves a grand partnership between abstract knowledge and concrete images. (Nov.)

[Page ]. Copyright 2013 PWxyz LLC

PW Annex Reviews

In the closing centuries of Europe's medieval age, that backward, isolated continent belatedly turned its gaze outward in search of trade and conquest. From that era of discovery came the Portolan charts, precursors of modern maps. Reproduced here in lavish full-color plates, this display of Portolan maps, many preserved at the National Library of France, documents Europe's expanding consciousness, its fumbling from blinkered ignorance to illumination and brief global dominance. The authors provide the historical context for these documents; the main body of the text is organized geographically, from the Mediterranean—so long the focus of insular European civilization—to the lands across the Atlantic and finally the traditional centers of human civilization on the far side of the Indian Ocean. Also included are appendices ranging from a lengthy bibliography to a full accounting of authors and photographers. From their roots in the 13th century to final decline in the 17th century, Portolan maps enshrined knowledge in works of magnificent artistry; the text and the high-resolution photographs document this flowering of creativity and curiosity. The work stands as one of scholarly love, like the maps themselves a grand partnership between abstract knowledge and concrete images. (Nov.)

[Page ]. Copyright 2013 PWxyz LLC