The Man Who Mapped the Planet

Book - 2003
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An enthralling biography of the man who created the first real map of the world and changed civilization

Born at the dawn of the age of discovery, Gerhard Mercator lived in an era of formidable intellectual and scientific advances. At the center of these developments were the cartographers who painstakingly pieced together the evidence to create ever more accurate pictures of the planet. Mercator was the greatest of all of them-a poor farm boy who attended one of Europe's top universities, was persecuted and imprisoned by the Inquisition, but survived to coin the term "atlas" and to produce the so-called projection for which he is known. Devoutly religious, yet gripped by Aristotelian science, Mercator struggled to reconcile the two, a conflict mirrored by the growing clash in Europe between humanism and the Church.

Mercator solved the dimensional riddle that had vexed cosmographers for so long: How could the three-dimensional globe be converted into a two-dimensional map while retaining true compass bearings? The projection revolutionized navigation and has become the most common worldview.

Nicholas Crane -a fellow geographer-has combined a keen eye for historical detail with a gift for vivid storytelling to produce a masterful biography of the man who mapped the planet.
Publisher: New York : H. Holt, 2003
Edition: 1st American ed
ISBN: 9780805066241
Branch Call Number: BIOGRAPHY 526 MERCATOR 2003
Characteristics: xiii, 348 p., [8] p. of plates : ill., maps ; 25 cm


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Apr 17, 2017

From a cobbler’s son to a Renaissance man, Gerard Kremer aka Gerard Mercator de Rupelmonde was obsessed with globes, cosmographies, maps and instruments for the span of his lengthy life. This book offers a great biographical piece with related geo, social and political elements that help to put in context how Mercator shaped his life, discoveries and work.

At times, the author goes heavy on digressions, making it difficult to follow on subject’s life. Despite this, the book is enjoyable and opens many other ways for the reader to continue exploring the life and work of this extraordinary man.

Totally recommended as an introduction to modern cartography and to complement any historical and cultural study of the Low Countries.

Jan 10, 2011

I found this to be a fascinating book, but I’d better admit up front that I have a penchant for history and cartography so unless you share these interests this book may not be able to hold your full attention. Crane provides ample detail on the life and time of Gerhard Mercator; he paints a captivating picture of the cultural, political and religious constrictions Mercator worked under. In our times when we can view the world entire via GoogleEarth, one can’t help but marvel at the extraordinary effort it must have taken for Mercator to create his works.
I won’t call this book a “page turner”. Rather I have to admit that I often found myself setting the book aside for a few moments to contemplate on how much I took for granted a body of knowledge that men such as Mercator expended their lifetimes compiling.


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