I only recently learned anything about the controversy surrounding the Mercator Map and it's North/South distortion. It hard to get your head around the fact that something you've taken for granted as being true since grade school isn't actually what it seems to be at all.
Did you learn about it through the "West Wing?" I did!
Interestingly enough, the Islamic way of showing the map of the world is "upside down" like in your picture. Don't know why. I think it's also centered on Mecca.
Darth Phil,Now you've given me something to research. It never ends! Here is a link to more reading of "upside-down" maps:http://www.flourish.org/upsidedownmap/According to this (and other sources I've skimmed), the Islamic map has South as "up" because when a person woke up facing the sun, South was on the right. The perception that right=good made for a favorable map in which South was up.
P.S. I like this a non-fiction picture-book about Ibn Battuta, a Muslim traveler of the 14th century. It's calledTraveling Man: The Journey of Ibn Battuta, 1325-1354, and it's written and illustrated by JamesRumford. While it's not a map book per se, I would use it to garner more interest in maps.
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