Mercator by Nicholas Crane

The great sixteenth-century cartographers, of whom Mercator would become the greatest, required two very different skills. They had to be able to garner, assimilate, adjudge and co-ordinate the geographical information provided by explorers and sailors who frequented the margins of the known. They also had to be able to imagine themselves suspended in the air, to achieve the visionary perspective of gods, gazing down on to the world from the amplitudes of heaven.Mercators name is most familiar to us because of the Mercator Projection: the solution he devised to represent the spheroidal surface of the globe on a two-dimensional plane. It is less well known that Mercator was the first man to conceive of mapping the entire surface of the planet or that he pioneered the idea of presenting multiple maps in bound books, to which he gave the name Atlas.

via Observer review: Mercator by Nicholas Crane | Books | The Observer.