John Thompson reviews 'The West and the Map of the World: A Reappraisal of the Past' by Matthew Richardson

The West and the Map of the World: A Reappraisal of the Past

by Matthew Richardson

Miegunyah Press, $69.99 hb, 278 pp, 9780522856071

Placed on a coffee table – its likely destination – this handsome book will have its greatest appeal to the idle browser. With its generous illustrations of remarkably beautiful early and antique maps of the world, Matthew Richardson’s book provides an elegant showcase for some singular treasures of early world mapping to be found principally in the collections of the State Library of Victoria, but with a number of illustrations also sourced from the University of Melbourne’s Cultural Collections. A product of Melbourne University Publishing’s Miegunyah imprint, the volume follows others of a similar type that have drawn on the unusually rich holdings of Melbourne’s State Library, one of this country’s great cultural treasure houses: Richard Aitken’s Botanical Riches: Stories of Botanical Exploration(2006); Des Cowley and Clare Williamson’s The World of the Book (2007); and Juliet O’Conor’s Bottersnikes and Other Lost Things: A Celebration of Australian Illustrated Children’s Books (2009).

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Published in November 2010 no. 326
John Thompson

John Thompson

John Thompson is a historian and writer now living in Sydney after a long career at the National Library of Australia in Canberra. He holds a doctorate in history from the Australian National University and has written for various journals. He is a frequent reviewer for Australian Book Review. The author of The Patrician and the Bloke: Geoffrey Serle and the Making of Australian History (2006), he co-edited (with Brenda Niall) The Oxford Book of Australian Letters (1998). His anthology Documents that Shaped Australia was published in 2010.

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