What's Where on Earth? Atlas: The World as You've Never Seen It Before by DK

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What's Where on Earth? Atlas: The World as You've Never Seen It Before by DK

Category: Reference
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: John Lloyd
Reviewed by John Lloyd
Summary: Without trying to be too trendy or with-it, this family-friendly atlas is very visually appealing, and can only teach a heck of a lot to a heck of a lot of people.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 160 Date: March 2017
Publisher: DK Children
ISBN: 9780241228371

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I dread to think how old the atlas we used when I was a child was, but at least we had one, and I didn't need to go to school or a library to check up on whatever bit of trivia I was seeking. I'm so old a lot of things about it now would be most redundant, but if you choose to risk your arm and buy an atlas for the family shelves that all generations will benefit from, as opposed to relying on electronic and updateable sources of information, then this is the one to have.

We start with a block of the book concerning our geographical prehistory – where the continental masses were millions of years ago – before hitting the contemporary data. Continent by continent we get the same array of large double-page spreads – we get the typical array of country borders with major cities marked, the topography and types of landscape, a spread of trivial factoids, a spiky population density graph, a map of famous landmarks, a climate chart, a map that locates major animals in random positions, and a satellite light image, showing our night-time influence and urbanisation. There's also a large feature on a geographical highlight, with no compass rose (boo hiss), such as the Grand Canyon or the Alps. Highlighted subjects get a bonus box-out or a caption, but the key thing is that every continent gets an equal and fair representation (minus the night-time skies of Australasia). There is also a ticker-tape data scrawl at the foot of most pages.

As expected, with all that info, there are a couple of editorial hiccups. Apparently Heathrow clocks in with 75 thousand million passengers each year (no wonder I prefer Gatwick…). The African maps don't label the Cape Verde Islands, and let them drift around – and you to check back to the full-planet projection to see what they are. Cyprus is now Asian. One page at the very beginning is quite awkward – it claims something might be this, it might be that, then claims it is that – all within inches of each other. Australia's population is either 22.9 or 24.3 million. Having said all that the care and attention doesn't seem to have suffered much, and I do include things like that not merely to quibble, but also to point out the range of data you can glean here. Truly, all the world is on these pages.

The most galling thing on them, which seems an error, however, is the use of the term Tibet, China. I guess I'm supposed to get off a hobby horse and accept the world moves on, but in this instance I'd rather not (especially as Kosovo is disputed). Let's face it, I rarely use the modernised names of Indian cities if I can help it, I had no idea Burma had moved capital city recently – and would always have said Colombo was the capital of Sri Lanka, when it hasn't been for decades now (although a sort-of suburb of it is, confusingly). I guess what I'm saying is that the world changes, and many people see major problems ahead for it in 2017. But surely it's a better time to buy a world gazetteer than it was a decade or two ago, when Yugoslavia was splitting, this country was at war, that country was in strife, and an Islamist outvasion was happening somewhere.

And, as I said, this is potentially the best volume to go for. The pages have a lot on, and still don't manage to look too messy (it is a typical thing of this type of book that you can't read a page's text from top left to bottom right, mind, and oftentimes will find the same fact or at least mentions of the same thing in different places). Yes, it will age a bit – and a couple of references sound so up-to-date they almost speak of yesterday, and not last year/2016 when this was being written – but it's a compellingly presented bundle of information, and shoots itself clear of the fusty old 'here be dragons' book I remembered as the family atlas.

I must thank the publishers for my review copy.

We at the Bookbag virtually subscribe to Pocket World in Figures 2015 by The Economist and its annual appearances for adult data on the world.

Buy What's Where on Earth? Atlas: The World as You've Never Seen It Before by DK at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy What's Where on Earth? Atlas: The World as You've Never Seen It Before by DK at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy What's Where on Earth? Atlas: The World as You've Never Seen It Before by DK at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy What's Where on Earth? Atlas: The World as You've Never Seen It Before by DK at Amazon.com.


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