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This was a brief but fun read. Ramsay manages to piece together the rather thin gruel of rumor, myth and legend surrounding a variety of places that appeared on maps but either never really existed, or (like the Island of Mam or Mayda) once may have existed, but have long since sunk.Cartography and its evolution plays an outsize role in this book. Ramsay discusses locations such as Freisland, Quivira and Norumbega, which once upon a time featured prominently on maps, until explorers definitively proved their non-existence. He also recounts the mapping and exploration of the Straits of Anian, the Northwest Passage and Greenland, all of which exist (In the Straits of Anians case as the present-day Bering Strait) but not exactly in the form they first appeared.Even stranger are the Ramsays discussion of places that really do exist, but proof of their existence was gained only with great difficulty, perhaps most strangely in the case of Bouvet Island. I had first heard of Bouvet Island while looking at a world map in my bedroom as a boy. It is a small, isolated Antarctic rock SSW of Cape Town, roughly 1,000 miles from the nearest landfall in any direction. Apparently it was originally discovered in the 18th Century by a French captain who gave it its name. However, numerous subsequent voyages failed to find it (not hard to imagine as it sits in one of the most Godforsaken parts of the planet) and it vanished from maps, only to be rediscovered in the early 19th century, claimed by the British, once again fail to be located by subsequent voyages and only fixed in location in the early 20th century by the Norwegians (who were looking for whaling stations in the Antarctic) and subsequently claimed by Norway in the 1920s. Thus Norway has territory (as it is uninhabited and uninhabitable it cannot be considered a colony) on the opposite side of the planet from its Nordic homeland, on an island that for much of its history was doubted to exist.

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