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In a world of Google Earth where we think that the world is fully mapped out, every discovery and adventure made, Off the Map is a journey through the remaining hidden geographies – from disappearing island to gutterspaces, invisible cities and floating landmasses – and is a stunning testament to how mysterious the world remains today. In the great tradition of pyscho-geography – the history of places and what they tell us about ourselves – Off the Map follows Iain Sinclair, Will Self, Robert Macfarlane and Judith Schalansky's Atlas of Remote Islands to give the real-life answer to Italo Calvino's Invisible Cities by weaving together what we see on maps to what the world is really like. It is celebration of both our love of places and the desire to imagine new places.
Whether it is Sealand, an abandoned gun platform off the English coast that a British citizen claimed as his own sovereign nation, making his wife his princess, or Baarle, a patchwork of Dutch and Flemish enclaves where crossing the road can involve traversing multiple national borders; or moving villages, unclaimed deserts, secret cities or underground labyrinths, fully illustrated with original maps and drawings, Off the Map shows the modern world from surprising new vantage points that will inspire urban explorers, and armchair travellers alike to consider a new way of understanding the world we live in.
Alastair Bonnett is Professor of Social Geography at Newcastle University. Previous books include What is Geography? (Sage, 2008) and How to Argue (Pearson, 2001). He has also contributed to history and current affairs magazines on a wide variety of topics, such as world population and radical nostalgia. Alastair was editor of the avant-garde, psychogeographical, magazine Transgressions: A Journal of Urban Exploration between 1994-2000. He was also involved for many years in situationist and anarchist politics. His latest research projects are about memories of the city and themes of loss and yearning in modern politics.
"Alastair Bonnett's high-speed world tour of places and non-places whose stories would bring the most somnolent class to life. Bonnett zooms effortlessly around far-off spots – sometimes in person, more often via the internet – but he does not ignore those closer to home. Fizzingly entertaining and enlightening book."
- Tom Fort, Daily Telegraph
"A mesmerising study of ambiguous temporary places."
- Geographical Magazine
"Fearlessly explores the dark side of humanity while constantly challenging our conceptions of place, borders and boundaries, and how we as humans use locations and geography to define ourselves and the world around us. Importantly, Bonnett's careful research and fascinating theories are complemented with passages of wonderfully written prose. A thought provoking triumph."
- James Reader, The Great Outdoors
"A fascinating delve into uncharted, forgotten and lost places. But it's not just a trivia-tastic anthology of remote destinations but a nifty piece of psycho-geography, explaining our human need for these cartographical conundrums."
"Bonnett dares us to rethink exploration in a world that has been fully charted, taking us from micronation Sealand – a forsaken sea fort claimed by a Brit as his own sovereign nation – to Arne, a Second World War decoy city that saved thousands of lives. Forty-seven fascinating essays prove why "our topophilia can never be extinguished or sated" and how these locations over insights into our history and society."