Author: National Geographic Society
Source: from publisher for review
I’m not quite sure what to make of this book. It wasn’t what I expected. Perhaps people who have used atlases more in their life will be less surprised than I by the amount of interesting natural history information it began with. This part of the book was a lot of fun. There were also some fascinating maps at the beginning of the section for each continent. These showed interesting things like human energy consumption; past tectonic events; and population density. In these ways, it was more and better than I expected.
On to the not so good… A lot of the book was devoted to quite ordinary (if detailed) maps of the world. Over 100 pages were just an index of place names. There were only five full page pictures taking advantage of the fact that this book was 1 by 1.5 feet in area! These five pictures were fantastic. They were large enough the spine of the book didn’t even bother me. They made me feel the scale of the objects in the pictures and inspired the awe I hoped for from Spectacle. I was extremely disappointed there weren’t more. Throughout the rest of the book, only about a quarter of each two page spread was devoted to pictures. Three pictures were crammed into that space. Even in a book this big, that made for some pretty small pictures.
I don’t know how the creators of this book imagine people using it. For me, it’s a coffee table book. I’d have been interested in more artistic maps. That may be an unfair ask for an atlas. On the other hand, for something described as a visual atlas, I definitely think it was reasonable to expect more space be devoted to pictures of places. I’d also have liked more fun facts and maps showing fascinating statistics. Basically, I wanted something that would be fun to page through. Given the existence of the internet, it’s not something I anticipate using as a reference book, so the 100 pages of index were wasted space for me.
For other opinions on this book, check out the other stops on the tour.