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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 th 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 drawings of 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. 


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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 th 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 drawings of 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. 

30 review for The Phantom Atlas: The Greatest Myths, Lies and Blunders on Maps

  1. 4 out of 5

    Hannah Greendale

    Click here to watch a video review of this book on my channel, From Beginning to Bookend. Strange tales of mythical creatures steal the show in this collection of inaccurate maps and outlandish stories, which might have been more entertaining with a few narrative flourishes in lieu of a barrage of dates and names. Click here to watch a video review of this book on my channel, From Beginning to Bookend. Strange tales of mythical creatures steal the show in this collection of inaccurate maps and outlandish stories, which might have been more entertaining with a few narrative flourishes in lieu of a barrage of dates and names.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Alice Lippart

    Lovely for anyone who enjoys maps and exploration.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Zachary F.

    A fun and frequently fascinating book, at least for cartophiles, though probably one best dipped into rather than read straight through. (I took the latter route.) True to its subtitle, The Phantom Atlas is a collection of fictional locales that have, for one reason or another, been featured on otherwise nonfictional maps through the centuries. Brooke-Hitching devotes at least a couple of pages to describing the process by which each place came and then ceased to be, and he provides beautiful, f A fun and frequently fascinating book, at least for cartophiles, though probably one best dipped into rather than read straight through. (I took the latter route.) True to its subtitle, The Phantom Atlas is a collection of fictional locales that have, for one reason or another, been featured on otherwise nonfictional maps through the centuries. Brooke-Hitching devotes at least a couple of pages to describing the process by which each place came and then ceased to be, and he provides beautiful, full-color replications of almost every map he discusses. It's lovely to look through, and would make a great coffee table book. Unfortunately, the Atlas doesn't quite live up to its potential in other regards. Typographical errors abound (at one point a paragraph is cut off by an illustration and never picked up again), and it would have been useful to have some accurate modern maps to refer to when trying to pinpoint the placement of this or that tiny imaginary island. I’d say a good third of the places discussed are just that—tiny imaginary islands—and, while I appreciate Brooke-Hitching’s thoroughness in this regard, there are only so many ways to write that a bit of land was spotted in the distance by Captain A and then investigated unsuccessfully by Captain B before Captain C came along and proved conclusively that it doesn’t exist. Some of these, I think, could have been condensed into a single entry. Lastly, there’s a severe Eurocentric slant to the whole book, with maybe one or two maps of non-Euro origin featured in the whole thing; in light of that, it's hardly the comprehensive collection it purports to be. If not taken too seriously, though, The Phantom Atlas does exactly what it’s supposed to. I got to look at some pretty antique maps and learned a lot of interesting trivia about shameless hoaxers and imaginative mythical beasties and islands supposedly erased from existence by the CIA to secure oil claims, and at the end of the day that’s all I was really looking for anyway.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Nancy Oakes

    http://www.nonfictionrealstuff.com/20... [My many thanks to the publisher and to the powers that be at LibraryThing for my copy.] In the introduction to this book, the author says that "This is an atlas of the world -- not as it ever existed, but as it was thought to be. The countries, islands, cities, mountains, rivers, continents and races collected in this book are all entirely fictitious; and yet each was for a time -- sometimes for centuries -- real. How? Because they existed on maps." The Ph http://www.nonfictionrealstuff.com/20... [My many thanks to the publisher and to the powers that be at LibraryThing for my copy.] In the introduction to this book, the author says that "This is an atlas of the world -- not as it ever existed, but as it was thought to be. The countries, islands, cities, mountains, rivers, continents and races collected in this book are all entirely fictitious; and yet each was for a time -- sometimes for centuries -- real. How? Because they existed on maps." The Phantom Atlas is a book that is not only filled with photos of "the greatest cartographic phantoms ever to haunt the maps of history," but also with a fair bit of the history of these "phantoms" that reveals quite a lot about their respective provenances and most especially the influence that mapping them would come to have on future adventurers and explorers. The book goes on to explore why these nonexistent places began to be mapped in the first place, incorporating elements of mythology, religion, and superstition, but also physical phenomena such as the Fata Morgana. Then there are a few stories of the fraudsters who felt no compunction about inventing islands or countries either for fame or for cash, as in the example of "Sir" Gregor MacGregor, who set up a scheme involving land ownership in the Territory of Poyais, which appeared on an 1822 map of central America's Mosquitia region. The Phantom Atlas is so very nicely done and I'm not simply referring to its amazing, giftworthy quality. It is perfect for people who appreciate the artistic quality of the maps that the author's used here and even more so for people like me who enjoy the history behind them. Some of these accounts are so strange that they could seriously be the basis of pulp fiction, historical fiction, speculative fiction or even horror stories. The dustjacket blurb refers to this book a "brilliant collection," and I couldn't agree more.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Jane

    Absolutely stunning atlas of "places that never were." Gorgeous coffee table book of fictitious places accompanied by delightful cartographic oddities and pictures of bizarre humanoids attested to by such people as Pliny [who I think accepted everyone's description of something at face value.] These fictitious places can be traced to several factors: myth, legend, or religion; someone's honest mistake; some places dreamed up by someone wanting fame and fortune from the "discovery". Although most Absolutely stunning atlas of "places that never were." Gorgeous coffee table book of fictitious places accompanied by delightful cartographic oddities and pictures of bizarre humanoids attested to by such people as Pliny [who I think accepted everyone's description of something at face value.] These fictitious places can be traced to several factors: myth, legend, or religion; someone's honest mistake; some places dreamed up by someone wanting fame and fortune from the "discovery". Although most of these places have proven to be imaginary upon investigation, even today with satellites, we still wonder about the existence of a few. I feel it best to dip into the text, not read straight through. I did like the feature of most of the maps; besides the complete map, there was an insert of the specific location with a line pointing to its place on the map. I thank LibraryThing for my copy in exchange for my honest opinion. Highly recommended.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Debbie Kinsey

    This is about fictional places that have appeared on real maps; sometimes due to lies, sometimes due to story and myth. It’s definitely a book to dip in and out of and not cover to cover, as there are quite a few similar stories in a row at times, particularly of lying explorers (the book is organised alphabetically, so I just dip in at random). It’s stunningly produced, though, with lots of pictures of beautiful old maps and gorgeous end papers.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Sesana

    There's definitely some interest in here for map nerds, but the writing is a bit dry. Too many paragraphs are, essentially, "and it was on this map by this person in this year, and this map by this person in this year, and this map by this person in this year..." Not only does it not really matter which maps included this nonexistent lands, it just isn't interesting to read that same thing over and over and over. There's definitely some interest in here for map nerds, but the writing is a bit dry. Too many paragraphs are, essentially, "and it was on this map by this person in this year, and this map by this person in this year, and this map by this person in this year..." Not only does it not really matter which maps included this nonexistent lands, it just isn't interesting to read that same thing over and over and over.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Jamie

    Takeaway: some of these mapmakers/explorers/con artists could have written some excellent fantasy.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Kerry

    Fascinating topic, boring book. None of the chapters are fleshed out enough to really be interesting, and they are all written with the same formula: X explorer/mapmaker said Y island existed, but when Z captain went looking for it, it was nowhere to be found.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Jocelyn Veevers

    Very interesting, but I think I might have enjoyed it more had it been arranged thematically, rather than alphabetically

  11. 4 out of 5

    Kimi

    For such an adventurous premise, this book was really dry. Also one of the chapters ended in the middle of a sentence. So that was kind of disappointing.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Claudia

    Most of the world has heard of the lost lands is Atlantis and maybe Lemuria as well. There are legends of lost islands or islands recorded during the so-called Age of Discovery that later ships attempted to find - for food and water, for supplies, a place to make repairs, to say, 'yep, I saw it too'. Brooke-Hitching goes through and investigates 58 lands, features, islands and even a sunken city or two. I won't go into all of them or even list them all since they range from pole to pole. Across e Most of the world has heard of the lost lands is Atlantis and maybe Lemuria as well. There are legends of lost islands or islands recorded during the so-called Age of Discovery that later ships attempted to find - for food and water, for supplies, a place to make repairs, to say, 'yep, I saw it too'. Brooke-Hitching goes through and investigates 58 lands, features, islands and even a sunken city or two. I won't go into all of them or even list them all since they range from pole to pole. Across every continent, ocean and sea. Some I expected to hear about were not there but there are lots more, I never did before. I knew that California - actually Baja California - was once considered an island. And apparently so was Korea. Many are considered the optical effects of a Fata Morgana - a mirage that distorts distant objects especially common in the polar regions. Then there are the desperately desired discoveries - the Northwest Passage, the Australian Inland Sea, the Terra Australis continent which is supposedly big enough to counter the 'weight' of the northern continents. Surprisingly, Google Earth still has a few of them listed - the island may not exist anymore or was never there but no one has gotten around to having it officially removed. When dealing with islands, mapmakers would place them on charts for the simple reason, what if they are there? And they were certainly not going to call any explorer - who may have some rather powerful supporters and backers - a liar. It would be better to list an island that may be imagined rather than leave off one that may be there. There is also a great deal of confusion caused with positioning errors. Pepys Island is an example of such - it is actually one of the Falkland Islands and about 240 miles from it's original location. Mayda or Asmaidas island was located about half way between Europe and the Maritimes of Canada, south of Greenland. In 1948, a ship was on it's way to London found itself in the area. The captain measured the depth - which was supposed to be at 2400 fathoms but sonar said 20. After repeated testing, a submerged land about 28 miles in diameter lay beneath the surface. Some geological event or the rage of the North Atlantic waves had scoured the island from the surface but at some point - it did exist. 2020-164

  13. 4 out of 5

    Susan Ferguson

    Fictitious places that have appeared on maps. Some are islands and lands reported seen by ships and explorers and been placed on maps. But turned out not to be when they were searched for. Some have not been removed from maps until this century - within the last 10 or 20 years. Other places have out of legends that were believed and sought for centuries. Some are just plain made up - occasionally for profit. There are pictures of maps showing all these places that don't exist - real maps. A thin Fictitious places that have appeared on maps. Some are islands and lands reported seen by ships and explorers and been placed on maps. But turned out not to be when they were searched for. Some have not been removed from maps until this century - within the last 10 or 20 years. Other places have out of legends that were believed and sought for centuries. Some are just plain made up - occasionally for profit. There are pictures of maps showing all these places that don't exist - real maps. A thing I thought interesting was that Google earth maps of the seas are a combination of satelllite images and old British Admiralty maps. Makes for an interesting combination.

  14. 5 out of 5

    John Eliade

    This book makes looking at maps a suspicious endeavor.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Rob Taylor

    I love maps. I have no decorative sense, but if I was a millionaire, I'd fill my walls with maps. I love maps. I have no decorative sense, but if I was a millionaire, I'd fill my walls with maps.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Stan Prager

    Review of: The Phantom Atlas: The Greatest Myths, Lies and Blunders on Maps, by Edward Brooke-Hitching by Stan Prager (3-31-19) A small island called “Bermeja” in the Gulf of Mexico that was first charted in 1539 was—after an extensive search of the coordinates—found to be a “phantom” that never actually existed in that latitude, or anywhere else for that matter. It turns out that this kind of thing is not unusual, that countless phantom islands, some the stuff of great legend, appeared on countles Review of: The Phantom Atlas: The Greatest Myths, Lies and Blunders on Maps, by Edward Brooke-Hitching by Stan Prager (3-31-19) A small island called “Bermeja” in the Gulf of Mexico that was first charted in 1539 was—after an extensive search of the coordinates—found to be a “phantom” that never actually existed in that latitude, or anywhere else for that matter. It turns out that this kind of thing is not unusual, that countless phantom islands, some the stuff of great legend, appeared on countless charts dating back well beyond the so-called “Age of Discovery” to the very earliest maps of antiquity. What is unusual about Bermeja is that its nonexistence was only determined in 2009, after showing up on maps for almost five hundred years! The reader first encounters Bermejo in the “Introduction” to The Phantom Atlas: The Greatest Myths, Lies and Blunders on Maps, by Edward Brooke-Hitching, a delightful, beautifully illustrated volume that is marked by both the eclectic and the eccentric. But the island that never was also later gets its due in its own chapter, along with a wonderful, detailed map of its alleged location. This is just one of nearly sixty such chapters that explores the mythical and the fantastical, ranging from the famous and near-famous—such as the Lost Continent of Atlantis and the Kingdom of Prester John—to the utterly obscure, like Bermeja, and the near-obscure, like the island of Wak-Wak. While the latter, also known as Waq-Waq in some accounts, apparently existed only in the imagination of the author of one of the tales in One Thousand and One Nights, it nevertheless made it into the charts courtesy of Muhammad al-Idrisi, a respected twelfth-century Arab cartographer. But The Phantom Atlas is not just all about islands. There are mythical lands, like El Dorado and the Lost City of the Kalahari; cartographic blunders, such as mapping California and Korea as islands; even persistent wrong-headed notions like the Flat Earth. There is also a highly entertaining chapter devoted to the outlandish beings that populate the 1493 “Nuremberg Chronicle Map,” featuring such wild and weird creatures as the “six-handed man,” hairy women known as “Gorgades,” the four-eyed Ethiopian “Nistyi,” and the dog-headed “Cynocephali.” That at least some audiences once entertained the notion that such inhabitants thrived in various corners of the globe is a reminder that the exotic characters invented by Jonathan Swift for Gulliver's Travels were not so outrageous after all. One of the longer and most fascinating chapters, entitled “Earthly Paradise,” relates the many attempts to fix the Biblical Garden of Eden to a physical, mapped location. The author places that into the context of a wider concept that extends far beyond the People of the Book to a universal longing that he suggests is neatly conjured up with the Welsh word “Hiraeth,” which he loosely defines as “an overwhelming feeling of grief and longing for one’s people and land of the past, a kind of amplified spiritual homesickness for a place one has never been to.” [p92] It is charming prose like that which marks Brooke-Hitching as a talented writer and distinguishes this volume from so many other atlases that are often simply a collection of maps mated with text to serve as a kind of obligatory device to fill out the pages. In happy contrast, there are enchanting stories attached to these maps, and the author is a master raconteur. But the maps and other illustrations, nearly all in full color, clearly steal the show in The Phantom Atlas. Because I obtained this book as part of an Early Reviewers program, I felt an obligation to read it cover-to-cover, but that is hardly necessary. A better strategy is to simply pick up the book and let it open to any page at random, then feast your eyes on the maps and pause to read the narrative—if you can take your eyes off the maps! From al-Idrisi ‘s 1154 map of Wak-Wak, to Ortelius’s 1598 map of the Tartar Kingdom, to a 1939 map of Antarctica featuring Morrell’s Island—which of course does not really exist—you are guaranteed to never grow bored with the visual content or the chronicles. There are, it should be noted, a couple of drawbacks in arrangement and design, but these are to be laid at the feet of the publisher, not the author. First of all, the book is organized alphabetically—from the Strait of Anian to the Phantom Lands of the Zeno—rather than grouped thematically, which would have no doubt made for a more sensible editorial alternative. Most critically, while the volume is somewhat oversize, the pages are hardly large enough to do the maps full justice, even with the best reading glasses. Perhaps the cost was prohibitive but given the quality of the art this well-deserves treatment in a much grander coffee table size edition. Still, despite these quibbles, fans of both cartography and the mysteries of history will find themselves drawn to this fine book. Review of: The Phantom Atlas: The Greatest Myths, Lies and Blunders on Maps, by Edward Brooke-Hitching https://regarp.com/2019/03/31/review-... MAP CREDIT: Tanner, Henry S. - A Map of the United States of Mexico, 1846, public domain, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bermeja... ILLUSTRATION CREDIT: A cynocephalus. From the Nuremberg Chronicle (1493) Hartmann Schedel (1440-1514), - Nuremberg Chronical (Schedel'sche Weltchronik), page XIIr, public domain, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cynocep...

  17. 4 out of 5

    Dave

    A fascinating book, detailing non-existent places that have appeared on the world's maps. For a variety of reasons, ranging from outright fraud through misunderstood geography to mythical lands. It is told in an engaging fashion exploring how the lands came to be on the maps and the debunking of them, often far later than you might think. The only downside is that with each only gets a few pages it can sometimes feel that there is much more to say about each one. A fascinating book, detailing non-existent places that have appeared on the world's maps. For a variety of reasons, ranging from outright fraud through misunderstood geography to mythical lands. It is told in an engaging fashion exploring how the lands came to be on the maps and the debunking of them, often far later than you might think. The only downside is that with each only gets a few pages it can sometimes feel that there is much more to say about each one.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Gary Slavens

    Beautiful maps The maps are beautiful. The stories become pretty similar after awhile: “So-and-so discovered this island/country/continent, but later explorers were unable o locate it.” Still, the beauty of the maps (especially the ones that filled in blank spaces with sea monsters and other fanciful creatures) are well worth your time. And the artistry of the map makers - whether or not the lands they depicted were real - is incontestable.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Shonn Haren

    This is a gorgeous book, but it is essentially an encyclopedia listing unreal places on former maps. The entries are short, and largely reproduced from earlier works. There are some considerations of fantastical places such as Atlantis, Mu and Lemuria, but it is only enough to whet one's appetite. This is a gorgeous book, but it is essentially an encyclopedia listing unreal places on former maps. The entries are short, and largely reproduced from earlier works. There are some considerations of fantastical places such as Atlantis, Mu and Lemuria, but it is only enough to whet one's appetite.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Travis

    Overall an interesting book, albeit one that was a bit disappointing and at times lacking in scholarly rigor. Things that I liked: 1) Lots of beautiful old maps with attention given to details on them, and explanations of some of the odd or inaccurate features they contain. 2) A few chapters devoted to describing the monsters and such illustrated in certain famous old maps (a sort of particular case of the above point) 3) The overall theme of the book: these descriptions of familiar but not-quite-r Overall an interesting book, albeit one that was a bit disappointing and at times lacking in scholarly rigor. Things that I liked: 1) Lots of beautiful old maps with attention given to details on them, and explanations of some of the odd or inaccurate features they contain. 2) A few chapters devoted to describing the monsters and such illustrated in certain famous old maps (a sort of particular case of the above point) 3) The overall theme of the book: these descriptions of familiar but not-quite-right geographies are especially interesting and suggestive of alternate realities. 4) It was kind of fun seeing information about some obscure false geographic features I had heard of elsewhere. In particular, the Straits of Anian (the name of a unique but short lived gaming blog) and the Aurora Islands, which were central to the book Hippolyte’s Island: An Illustrated Novel; I don't believe I knew at the time that the were "real" invented islands, and too bad it wasn't actually a good book. Things that I found disappointing: 1) Frequent mismatch between the text and accompanying maps. The text would often describe something referencing a particular map (perhaps the first where a given feature/error was depicted, or just one that illustrates it particularly well), but the accompanying images would be of other maps that often didn't seem as clear as what the text described. I don't understand this at all: if a map exists that clearly depicts the fake location, why not include the map in the book? Conversely, if certain maps were chosen to illustrate the book, why not construct the narrative referencing them? My one thought is if there were somehow licensing issues for different versions of the book; according to a question here on Good Reads, an abrupt cut-off of the text on the entry for Buss Island is unique to the American edition, so perhaps other parts of the content were changed as well. 2) Lack of scholarly rigor. This is kind of hard to define, more of an overall impression from reading the book, but a sense that the author's knowledge or depth of research fell short of providing a clear and accurate description of things. One example: in the entry on Crocker Land dates and descriptions of various arctic expeditions are confused; Donald MacMillan is important to the events depicted, and the text seems to indicate that he accompanied an early expedition of Peary's where the spurious land was sighted, but it appears that he actually befriended Peary at a later date and was part of future expeditions. Another example: at the end of the entry on the Lemuria and Mu, he calls the de Landa alphabet a "spurious invention of the bishop," evidently unaware that it actually proved useful in the decipherment of Mayan hieroglyphics; the only thing spurious about it was the assumption by de Landa (and others who followed him) that the writing system could be understood as alphabetic. Maybe this sounds like nitpicking, but as I said, it is hard to define. But on the whole, the writing was full of various little errors that left me doubting the overall accuracy of the narratives presented by the book, especially since it implied that there were other errors that I did not recognize. 3) The organization is not great. For the most part the entries are arranged roughly in alphabetic order of proper nouns in their name (such that the Straits of Anian I referred to above are near the beginning of the book among the A's). One problem is that some spurious geographic features are close to others, and are often featured in the same maps (sometimes the book even acknowledges this and sends you off to see a map in a different entry), so I think some sort of arrangement by geographic proximity would make more sense: maybe sections on North America, South America, Australia and Antarctica, Africa, and Asia. And it might have provided a smoother reading experience; I read the book front to back and it seemed a bit distracted jumping around so much in time and space.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Tanya

    The Phantom Atlas: The Greatest Myths, Lies and Blunders on Maps represents a large body of research, and is filled with beautifully reproduced full-color maps. I won this attractive oversize hardcover book on a Goodreads giveaway, and have been excited to read it. After having spent several hours between its covers I can say that it is visually pleasing, and has a lot of interesting information, but Brooke-Hitching could have been much more effective in presenting his findings. This book is pres The Phantom Atlas: The Greatest Myths, Lies and Blunders on Maps represents a large body of research, and is filled with beautifully reproduced full-color maps. I won this attractive oversize hardcover book on a Goodreads giveaway, and have been excited to read it. After having spent several hours between its covers I can say that it is visually pleasing, and has a lot of interesting information, but Brooke-Hitching could have been much more effective in presenting his findings. This book is presented as a series of 2-6 page entries on all the misidentified, legendary, and imaginary places that were perpetuated for centuries on maps. There is no thematic organization. Rather, there are just disassociated alphabetical listings, which make for terrible reading. For example, pages 54-75 cover "Sea Monsters of the Carta Marina (a medieval map of Scandinavia showing mythical creatures), "Island of California"(16th and 17th century misrepresentations of California as an island), "Cassiterides" (legendary tin islands written about by Strabo in the first century B.C.), and "Crocker Land" (a 20th century mirage in the Arctic). All interesting, but presented in such a way that nothing connects to anything else. If I were Brooke-Hitching's editor, I would tell him to put in more effort and created some sort of narrative arc, whether that be through a chronological approach or geographical organization. He could have a section on myths perpetuated by classical writers, another on wishfully-thought New World islands identified by Spanish and Portuguese explorers, one about legends in the Far East, yet another detailing explorations in the Arctic, and so on. As it was, I just took in a whole bunch of unconnected information, jumping all around the globe and through millennia of time, and will remember very little of it. So... The Phantom Atlas is very pretty, but could have been so much better had Edward Brooke-Hitching not taken the easy way out. 3 stars.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Shay Rose

    The past two years have been extremely tough for me. Many crazy things occurring at home, I have entered some of the Goodreads giveaways and have been blessed to win books. However, due to a hectic life-style called; "trying to painfully get my life back together," it was very difficult for me to read the books I had won. It made me feel awful to think there was someone out there who awaited some winners review & I didn't have the time or the heart to sit and read a book. Well finally, I decided The past two years have been extremely tough for me. Many crazy things occurring at home, I have entered some of the Goodreads giveaways and have been blessed to win books. However, due to a hectic life-style called; "trying to painfully get my life back together," it was very difficult for me to read the books I had won. It made me feel awful to think there was someone out there who awaited some winners review & I didn't have the time or the heart to sit and read a book. Well finally, I decided to put an end to that. I am honestly trying to start reading again, to just start reading no matter how crappy I am feeling that day. This was the first book I picked from my TBR-list due to the beautiful almost professional encyclopedic covers adorned with beautiful maps all through cover, and I knew this book was going to be the one that gets me out of my reading funk. Once I opened the book, I was transported into mystery, unknown knowledge, and interesting myths that seemed to have to much factual information to almost make you think, "Wow, that place could've existed," (forgive me for the lame line). Not to mention you learn of the geography from centuries ago, and learn how much the landscape throughout the world has change, (For example, you learn of bodies of water that apparently don't exist anymore that were once integral for those who use local waterways and rivers to do much of their commuting.) The maps and details in this beautiful book are eye-opening and extremely informative, plus it is almost a bit of a fantasy read; learning of place that might or might have not existed. This is an amazing book, it took me months to read cover to cover and it was absolutely worth it. Buy this beautiful book if you ever see it on a bookshelf. Despite what it might look like it is in no way some sort of decorative or coffee book, there is wonderful information inside. Something you will thoroughly enjoy. Sorry for the late review. -Shay Rose

  23. 5 out of 5

    Raj

    This is a quite interesting book of maps of places that don't exist. Whether by mistake, through hearsay or just plain lying, people were persuaded that these places were real enough to draw maps of, and Brooke-Hitching has collected a number of these, which he presents, along with their stories. The book itself is lovely, with large, colour reproductions of the maps, often with boxouts of details (if the mistake is a tiny island on a map showing the whole Atlantic ocean, for example). I do feel This is a quite interesting book of maps of places that don't exist. Whether by mistake, through hearsay or just plain lying, people were persuaded that these places were real enough to draw maps of, and Brooke-Hitching has collected a number of these, which he presents, along with their stories. The book itself is lovely, with large, colour reproductions of the maps, often with boxouts of details (if the mistake is a tiny island on a map showing the whole Atlantic ocean, for example). I do feel that some of the entries could do with being longer, and I did get a bit tired of islands in the Atlantic that were probably just cloud banks. The book itself says that mythical islands are as abundant in the mythologies of Eastern cultures as that of the west, but it only devotes a single entry (Wak-Wak) to any of them. I would have happily lost a few of the Atlantic islands in favour of some stuff that wasn't centred around the West. There was a lot of interest, though. The story of Gregor MacGregor and his shameless invention of a territory in Latin America is fascinating, not to mention heartbreaking for the people he hoodwinked. And the idea that people for a long time thought that California was an island isn't something that I had encountered before. Nor the belief that Australia had a huge inland sea, fed by a huge river network. So a lovely book to dip into at random, but could have done with being a bit more balanced and less Euro- and American-centric.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Arcuro Shelton

    This is probably the last traditionally published book that doesn't belong to a certain gaming franchise that I purchased. I thought the $10.00 price tag was a bit hefty, and--honestly--if I had gotten this in print, I'd have held out for a paperback copy, and, if no such thing ever came out, never bought the book at all. But a friend mentioned reading it, and how she was enjoying it, and I had the money, so I shelled it out for the ebook. I don't regret that decision. This book was entertaining, This is probably the last traditionally published book that doesn't belong to a certain gaming franchise that I purchased. I thought the $10.00 price tag was a bit hefty, and--honestly--if I had gotten this in print, I'd have held out for a paperback copy, and, if no such thing ever came out, never bought the book at all. But a friend mentioned reading it, and how she was enjoying it, and I had the money, so I shelled it out for the ebook. I don't regret that decision. This book was entertaining, interesting, and often surprising. For instance, I never would have considered how map makers in the past ensured their maps were identifiable as definitively *theirs*, and it gave me an idea for the world building in my own fiction and my gaming. A number of the mistaken locales included descriptions of the peoples who lived there and the societies that supposedly developed. It was also interesting to see what kinds of beliefs people held in the past as world exploration developed. Overall, I feel this book was worth the hefty price tag for an ebook, but I would recommend readers who are tight on funds look first to see if they can find it from their local library system, either in print or through Overdrive.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Doug Brunell

    Brooke-Hitching's book seemed like a natural pick for me. I love the way old maps look, as they were works of pure art. I also love that they had cryptids scattered about on them, and they also contained lands that may have never existed. A book dedicated to all of that is idea gold, and Brooke-Hitching pulled it off. Not only does the author go into the story behind the phantom lands, he gives directions to "finding" them, includes multiple maps that they were drawn on so you can see exactly wha Brooke-Hitching's book seemed like a natural pick for me. I love the way old maps look, as they were works of pure art. I also love that they had cryptids scattered about on them, and they also contained lands that may have never existed. A book dedicated to all of that is idea gold, and Brooke-Hitching pulled it off. Not only does the author go into the story behind the phantom lands, he gives directions to "finding" them, includes multiple maps that they were drawn on so you can see exactly what people were looking at back in the day, and he does it all in a very entertaining way. In fact, some of his research is going to find its way into some of my novels someday. Of that, I'm fairly sure. If the phantom lands and strange creatures of old interest you, you simply must purchase this. It is worth every penny you'll pay.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Tom Darrow

    I like the concept of this book. I have always liked stories of discovery, old maps and seeing how those maps change over time as more about the world becomes known. So this book has a lot to like there. The entries are short (2-4 pages each) and have some nice pictures of the maps. This book would work well as a bathroom read, because each entry is independent of the others. On the negative side, there are some editing problems. For example, in numerous entries he makes references to other entri I like the concept of this book. I have always liked stories of discovery, old maps and seeing how those maps change over time as more about the world becomes known. So this book has a lot to like there. The entries are short (2-4 pages each) and have some nice pictures of the maps. This book would work well as a bathroom read, because each entry is independent of the others. On the negative side, there are some editing problems. For example, in numerous entries he makes references to other entries and the page numbers don't match up. Same thing with some of the maps. Also, the entries are a little inconsistent in their contents and quality. Some consist largely of quoted bits of mythology and very little about the actual geography. So, overall, good concept for the book but needs some polishing.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Jeff

    I won this in a goodreads giveaway and this is the first thing I've read by the author. At first I thought this was going to be a book of entertaining stories about how strange and wrong items got on maps. It was obvious, after the first chapter, that this was more of an academic study of fictitious cartography entries and on this I think it fails. The longest chapter lasts about 6 pages (the shortest is 2 pages), this is barely enough to scratch the surface of any of the topics. At best, this is I won this in a goodreads giveaway and this is the first thing I've read by the author. At first I thought this was going to be a book of entertaining stories about how strange and wrong items got on maps. It was obvious, after the first chapter, that this was more of an academic study of fictitious cartography entries and on this I think it fails. The longest chapter lasts about 6 pages (the shortest is 2 pages), this is barely enough to scratch the surface of any of the topics. At best, this is a starting point for research and may be most useful for it's bibliography. Add to this each chapter changes font size at least once and 1 chapter ends in the middle of a sentence and the book disappoints.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Brad Barnes

    This was quite the antidote for the uber-heavy novels and biographies I read this summer. It's episodic in nature, with all the phantom lands, islands, seas, mountains, et al, organized alphabetically. I'm a sucker for old maps, and this book is a treasure trove of them, including several gorgeous gatefold or two-page spreads. I read the American edition (which was produced after the British one) and was very surprised to see one entry dead-stop at the bottom of a page, mid-sentence. I have no i This was quite the antidote for the uber-heavy novels and biographies I read this summer. It's episodic in nature, with all the phantom lands, islands, seas, mountains, et al, organized alphabetically. I'm a sucker for old maps, and this book is a treasure trove of them, including several gorgeous gatefold or two-page spreads. I read the American edition (which was produced after the British one) and was very surprised to see one entry dead-stop at the bottom of a page, mid-sentence. I have no idea how much copy was left out — a word or two, or an entire page — but in the end, it's a small flaw. If you enjoy either historic voyages of discovery or historic fraudulent claims of fame, this is the book you'll want to read.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Anson Cassel Mills

    A nicely illustrated book of 58 short chapters, organized alphabetically (rather than chronologically) and written for the general reader. Some of the chapters concern map errors, especially reported islands, and fata morgana retained by mapmakers—sometimes for centuries—frequently out of an abundance of caution. Other chapters have nothing much to do with maps: Atlantis, for instance, or the Garden of Eden, or the notoriously cruel hoax of Poyais. Furthermore, I am annoyed with Brooke-Hitching A nicely illustrated book of 58 short chapters, organized alphabetically (rather than chronologically) and written for the general reader. Some of the chapters concern map errors, especially reported islands, and fata morgana retained by mapmakers—sometimes for centuries—frequently out of an abundance of caution. Other chapters have nothing much to do with maps: Atlantis, for instance, or the Garden of Eden, or the notoriously cruel hoax of Poyais. Furthermore, I am annoyed with Brooke-Hitching for trying to resurrect the myth that any significant number of medieval scholars believed the earth was flat, an error debunked more than 25 ago by Jeffrey Burton Russell in Inventing the Flat Earth: Columbus and Modern Historians (1991).

  30. 4 out of 5

    Jonathan

    If you like maps you will like this book, and if human folly amuses you, you will like it even more. Here are accounts of places that do not exist, the people who “discovered” them, and those who kept them on the maps. Many resulted from sailing ships mistaking cloud banks for land, but many are also fraudulent claims made by explorers naming their bogus discoveries after their sponsors in the hope of obtaining future funding. It may be surprising how long it takes, possibly centuries, for a fic If you like maps you will like this book, and if human folly amuses you, you will like it even more. Here are accounts of places that do not exist, the people who “discovered” them, and those who kept them on the maps. Many resulted from sailing ships mistaking cloud banks for land, but many are also fraudulent claims made by explorers naming their bogus discoveries after their sponsors in the hope of obtaining future funding. It may be surprising how long it takes, possibly centuries, for a fictitious island to be removed from maps, but for the individual mapmaker the difficulty of proving a negative is a major deterrent to its removal. Besides the wonderful old maps, there is a wealth of history to be learned from this book. In the end there is more fact than fiction here.

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