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H-NET BOOK REVIEW Published by H-HistGeog@h-net.msu.edu (November, 2004) David Buisseret. _The Mapmaker's Quest: Depicting New Worlds in Renaissance Europe_. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003. xxi + 227 pp. Illustrations, maps, notes, bibliography, index. $35.00 (cloth), ISBN 0-19-210053-X. Reviewed for H-HistGeog @h-net.msu.edu by Denis Cosgrove, Department of Geography, University of California Los Angeles. European Mapping and Modernity Map making, map use and map consciousness are at once agents of modernity and among its most characteristic products. David Buisseret does not make this claim explicitly, but his book demonstrates its truth with unusual clarity of narrative and illustrates it through a masterly selection of examples. The book's emphasis is European mapping between 1400 and 1800, although there are forays into nineteenth-, twentieth-century and even contemporary mapping examples and questions. This flexibility makes the appearance of the term "Renaissance" in the book's subtitle somewhat misleading, and accounts for my own use of "modernity." For while Buisseret's focus and expertise undoubtedly lie in the years between 1500 and 1650, the book is not governed by any particular strain of Renaissance historiography and its principal import is the central and continuing role that the mapping impulse has played in constructing and representing Western modernity. In fact, Buisseret's opening question is why Europeans began to make and use maps with such accelerated intensity and in so many areas of daily life from the early years of the fifteenth century, and why this has continued up to the present, overwhelming the various other cartographic traditions that we now recognize from China, South Asia and the Islamic world, for example, to become the cartographic language of the world. While he recognizes the significance of traditional explanations for the mapping revolution: the "rediscovery" of Ptolemy's technical writings on coordinate systems and projection, a secular humanist interest in the material world, oceanic navigation, and the demands of warfare, taxation and administrative bureaucracy emerging from new territorial scales and arrangements, for example, he demonstrates that in many respects Europe's _furor cartographicus_ predated these historical processes and events, and indeed that they depended in large measure upon ma ps and map skills. The book is structured by these various realms of social life in which the European map operated. Its opening chapters deal authoritatively with influences, legacies and differences from medieval and classical mapping and cartographic knowledge. The body of the work however is the four chapters dealing respectively with the interest in cartography displayed by Europe's ruling elites as they sought better to know, defend and administer their territories (a principal subject of the author's previous work), the role of mapping in European mercantile and territorial expansion overseas, mapping's close attachment to warfare as its practice was transformed by artillery, and the relations between cartography and changing economic relations in town and country. In each of these studies, Buisseret offers sensible arguments and plausible explanations. These are governed by a commonsense understanding of maps as complex social products with more than merely instrumental value, an un derstanding based on intensive study and characterized by generous acknowledgement of sources. Perhaps the most pleasing feature of the book is Buisseret's selection of images to illustrate his arguments. There are 83 figures and twelve beautifully reproduced color plates. While some of these will be familiar to most historians of cartography (although the author frequently presents them in a novel light), many will be new. They reflect Buisseret's command of the source materials and they are accompanied by informative text inserts that allow them to be consulted as a parallel narrative to the written argument. The text itself is written with the clarity of great knowledge carried lightly. Buisseret's book should appeal to readers well beyond the confined fields of Renaissance and cartographic studies. Scholars in those fields may be slightly disappointed that, rather than wrestling in his conclusion with the historical question with which he opens, the author is content to offer some rather random comments on garden, city and national maps, on maps and science, maps and flight, and on satellite mapping. By comparison with the elegance and depth displayed in the body of the book, such a concluding chapter cannot help but appear superficial. This should not however discourage readers from enjoying a masterly and beautifully produced book. Purchasing through these links helps support H-Net: http://www.powells.com/cgi-bin/partner?partner_id=28081&cgi=product&isbn=019210053X http://service.bfast.com/bfast/click?bfmid=2181&sourceid=41034484&bfpid=019210053X&bfmtype=book Copyright © 2004 by H-Net, all rights reserved. H-Net permits the redistribution and reprinting of this work for nonprofit, educational purposes, with full and accurate attribution to the author, web location, date of publication, originating list, and H-Net: Humanities & Social Sciences Online. For any other proposed use, contact the Reviews editorial staff at firstname.lastname@example.org.