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Making Connections Between the World's Newest and Oldest Maps

An interview with John Hessler, a cartography expert at the Library of Congress and one of the people behind the new book, Map: Exploring The World.
Left: A Map of Vesuvius (1832) by John Auldjo. Right: Hurricane Katrina Flooding Estimated Depths and Extent (2005)
Left: A Map of Vesuvius (1832) by John Auldjo. Right: Hurricane Katrina Flooding Estimated Depths and Extent (2005)University of Otago, NOAA

Few people in the world know their way around a map like John Hessler does. The Library of Congress’s “Specialist in Modern Cartography and Geographic Information Science” can look at a Renaissance, bit matrix, or Minecraft map and explain what each signifies and how they all relate.

Hessler and a team of contributors have put together a stunning cartographic encyclopedia titled, Map: Exploring The World ($59.95, Phaidon). In it, 300 maps tell the story of 5,000 years of human history, just not in chronological order. Map’s layout draws connections between eras, places, and themes with each turn of the page.