Edward Brooke-Hitching: The Phantom Atlas: The Greatest Myths, Lies and Blunders on Maps
Nine-foot giants were once thought to stalk the Patagonian landscape.
The Island of California was known to drift off the coast of North America.
The Mountains of Kong were believed to stretch across the continent of Africa.
The Phantom Atlas is a guide to the world not as it is, but as it was imagined to be. It’s a world of ghost islands, imagined mountain ranges, mythical civilizations, ship-wrecking beasts, and other fictitious features introduced on maps and atlases even up to the present day through mistakes, misunderstanding, fantasies, and outright lies. This richly illustrated book collects and explores the colorful real histories behind a striking range of antique maps that are all in some ways a little too good to be true. Author Edward Brooke-Hitching investigates the places where exploration and mythology meet, using gorgeous atlas images as springboards for tales of deranged buccaneers, seafaring monks, heroes, swindlers, and other amazing stories behind cartography’s greatest phantoms.
Size: 7 ½ x 9 ¾ in;
Pages: 256 pp;
Publication: April 2018
Edward Brooke-Hitching is a map collector and author of Fox Tossing: And Other Forgotten and Dangerous Sports, Pastimes and Games. A Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society and a writer for the popular BBC TV show QI, he lives in a dusty heap of old maps and books in London.
"The Phantom Atlas is charmingly written, stunningly illustrated, and elegantly presented (kudos to designer Keith Williams). Even if your passport is stamped to a fare-thee-well, this beguiling book will be an eye-opener—one eye for Arimaspi, four for Nisyti. It tempts travelers toward destinations they will never reach." —The Santa Fe New Mexican
"What makes Brooke-Hitching’s book more than just a collection of oddities is the emphasis on why these errors happen, and how relying on religion at the exclusion of science, or valuing outsider reports ahead of indigenous knowledge, detrimentally impacted centuries of exploring." —Hyperallergic