Book Review: Off the Map by Alastair Bonnett

or to give the book it’s full title – Off the map: Lost spaces, invisible cities, feral places and what they tell us about the world.


I do love looking at a map; looking for routes to run or cycle, new places to explore or week long touring holidays. Off the map took me a while to read, not because it wasn’t very good, but because it is split into eight different sections, each with numerous chapters. I would read a chapter most evenings, sometimes looking at the world map on our bedroom wall, and as each chapter was it’s own little island there wasn’t a ‘plot’ to lose if I didn’t pick up the book for a few days. Nearly every chapter has the latitude and longitude, making it easier to open Google Maps to find it.

There are the cities that no longer exist, for example Leningrad, there are hidden places, for example the underground city of Cappadocia, there are no man lands, dead cities, breakaway countries, floating islands and ephemeral places. Two chapters that particularly grabbed me was Camp Zeist in Holland. This was where the trials for the Lockerbie bombers were held, under Scottish law, but in a neutral place that was for the period of the trial, in effect, Scotland. I was also intrigued by the LAX carpark, where numerous people who worked in the air would live in caravans.

Overall a thoroughly entertaining book which I gave 4 out of 5 on Goodreads.