This rather wonderful synthesis of cartography, art and social comment is both beautiful and intriguing. Its large format allows the reader to savour fully the attention to detail and the stories that Adam Dant has to tell. We begin, for instance, with a series of maps showing four stages of the development of Shoreditch, that now achingly trendy hipster enclave, but which has had what might be termed a chequered history. The captions explain what has been lost and what has appeared, the style of each map reflecting that of the period it covers, from the rural area of Tudor times to its modern incarnation.
This is not, though, conventional map-making and London Enraged – a map of the riots from AD60 to the present comes as an explosion surrounding a central colossus. The Centrally Planned London Underground is, entirely fittingly, circular, but without captions or station names and with the symbols looking even more like the electrical circuit diagram that inspired Harry Beck’s original. London Digested, a simplified layout, comes as an anatomical dissection.
Although this is a book probably best appreciated by those with some connection to London, the inventiveness and jeu d’esprit of the artworks reflects Adam’s imagination. It’s a book to pick up again and again for the joy of discovering new angles and details.
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