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4.4 out of 5 stars127
4.4 out of 5 stars
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on 7 July 2013
I absolutely love this book and cannot rate it high enough! I am an avid traveller and am always excited to get my hands on a new travel book. This is far by my favourite of any travel books I have read, what makes it even better is how the book has been presented. It has beautiful photographs of over 200 countries in the world. If you didn't want to visit anywhere before you got your hands on this, you certainly will once you have read it!

I like this book as it runs through countries alphabetically and not by grouping them together, I find that this makes it smoother to read and if you do choose to read this as a fiction book then you get a surprise on the turning of every page.

This book allows you to get a `taster' for the country on the page identifying facts and stats as well as having photographs that draw you in. I have come across countries in this book that I had never even thought about visiting, but I found it so inspiring they have become a part of my `countries to visit' list. The book also has sections on the countries for you to get a more in depth opinion on it. Called `under the skin' this allows you to read about what you may hear there, watch, drink, eat and `in a word'. There is also a section on when to visit the country - always useful when you a planning a visit!

I always keep this book out on the coffee table when I have guests and so far I have not come across any who have been able to resist a peek at it. Once they have done, they fall in love with the book and rave to me about it afterwards.

As lonely planet go, I am not a big fan of their individual country guides/books, however I absolutely love their big books which capture the moment in the photograph and make you wish you were there.

I would urge everyone to purchase this book as once you have you would not regret it, mine is currently sitting on my coffee table stuffed with post it notes on pages I wish to now visit.
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Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This is a review of the Second Edition, first published September 2010 which replaces the First Edition of 2004. Apparently it has been 100% re-written and updated with totally new photographs, so it is a thoroughly new book in effect, and not to be confused with the First Edition (which is still on sale). The two editions, while similar in style, are comprehensively different from one another, and any review posted before September 2010 is likely to refer to the First Edition. I just wish Amazon could separate the two for reviewing purposes! They are not the same!

I'm rating this 5 stars because it's exactly what I wanted and expected - but that does not necessarily mean that it's the perfect travel guide. I wanted something for my children to use over the years to learn about all of the countries of the world, at least in outline terms, and this does exactly that very satisfactorily. But to call it a Travel Book is possibly misleading, because at 4kg it's not something you would want to carry around with you on holiday (or even take with you in the first place) and as a comprehensive guide to planning your holiday in advance, it has to be said that the information provided for any given country is pretty light and of limited use. Since every country is allocated the same page space (two), most of which is taken up with beautiful photographs, you are then left with less than half a page of text to summarise a complete nation. It has to be said that this information, while interesting at all times, will be of limited use to the would-be traveller.

But what you do get, if looked at a different way, is an absolute gold-mine of information for the world as a whole - and I really do mean all of it. Among its near 450 pages you get to read about all of the 192 member states of the United Nations, quite a few of which you may not have heard of. On top of that is a summary of each of 37 more smaller states and principalities, most in far-flung or remote corners of the world. So 229 countries in all with a total of 817 images, many of which are just stunning and informative in their own way. As a means of educating our children of the geography of the planet and enabling them to learn where each country is with a good deal of information about every single one, it's an almost indispenible reference book that will entertain, amuse and educate.

The format is consistent throughout. Each country is allocated the same space in terms of overview, information and advice. First there is a general description of about 125 words, and this is followed by:-

Best time to visit
Top things to see (typically six)
Top things to do (typically four)
Suggestions for books to read, typically just one but not necessarily non-fiction - some novels are recommended
Suggestions for music to listen to that typifies or originates from that country
Suggestions for films to watch (typically one) that best represents that country's identity
Traditional food and drink to sample
An example of a word in the language of that country, with a translation (if applicable)
Trademarks relevant to that country (for example paprika, the Rubik's Cube, goulash and thermal baths all come from Hungary)
A random fact to educate and/or amuse
Finally a small map of the country with most of the key cities, rivers and lakes all named, as well as bordering countries

And of course every country has at least one high-quality image, in some cases there is only one (as in the case of Andorra), but usually there are four or five showing such things as landscapes, architecture and the naturalised inhabitants of that nation

Four bullet-point 'specifications' for each country include the capital city, the country's population, the area in square kilometers, and the official language/s.

I would imagine it would be impractical if not impossible to publish a book of every country that offered all the information a would-be traveller would need, but this is as good an attempt as could be achieved, and probably provides enough to generate sufficient interest in any one country to prepare oneself for reading a single book dedicated to that country of choice. In a way this is an exotic and comprehensive 'list of contents' of the planet, it won't tell you everything about every nation state but it offers enough to help you decide whether or not you want to know more. What it does offer in completion however, with little need for any supplementary publications, is an overview of the world in good detail and with captivating imagery that would be a wonderful educational guide for all the family, not just children. It would also make for a perfect gift for all ages, so with Christmas approaching this will probably appear on many a Wish List.
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on 15 November 2010
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
The usual high quality Lonely Planet photos and humour mixed with basic information (things to see, do, eat, etc.) spread across more than four hundred gloriously large glossy pages make this the ideal reading material for the traveller looking to stave off a bout of wanderlust, or to serve as inspiration for your next holiday.

This is a book that you will dip into time and again. A true must have!
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on 31 July 2013
It's a beautiful book, great talking point and an inspiration for anyone to want to travel more.

Love the 'random fact' for each country.
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on 14 December 2015
I love travel but am often faced with trouble when planning a trip - what season will be best to go? What hidden highlights can I visit? What parts of the culture can I not miss trying? This book answers all of that and more.

Every country has two pages dedicated to it - one with photos and one with info. A brief description of the country is provided and then there is a bullet point list of must knows / must sees / etc.

I love that there is a food / drink / music / movie section that will allow you to further throw yourself into a specific culture.

A bible for any traveler.
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on 2 April 2013
This book is fantastic and has given me itchy feet. As other reviewers have said, every country in the world is given the same space and as far as I can tell the info is fairly accurate. It's also respectful of troubles etc, but usually manages to cast a positive light on all countries, making us see that everywhere has normal people who are just like us. Unlike some other westerners' look at the world, I don't find it patronising,

Significantly, I think they've done a good job in portraying the 'nicer' side of many countries- e.g. no pictures of poverty or war, but of normal people going about their daily lives, which counteracts many western peoples' prejudices about many countries, and as according to their portrayal by our media. I think they have made an effort to get to the heart of each country. The only Australian person pictured on their page is a happy, healthy aboriginal girl. I like that!

The best bit for me is the 'read' section, from which I am making a list of travel books. I'm just now making a new wish list on Amazon, looking up the recommended book or two, which so far have almost always had very high review ratings, and for the countries I know well, they have chosen the books I would too (they are, it seems if possible, by a local author/poet). I can't wait to start reading! (I used to travel widely- now I have young kids and no money, I still travel widely, but through books!). The 'watch' section (usually a film) is similarly useful for films you might not otherwise be aware of.

I have only given 4 stars because for me almost 75% of the space taken up for the photos is too much- half of the double page spread each country gets would be enough. This would have given more room for more information or a larger more detailed map (many places in the things to see/do sections are not marked on the tiny country map), show the flag etc. But I suppose, maybe the publishers know that its the big pictures, that are excellent, that sell the book.
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Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
`The Travel Book' is a stunning coffee table book from Lonely Planet which showcases 229 countries with bright, inspiring images and various facts and figures of note. This isn't the kind of book you read from cover to cover, but rather one you dip into at odd moments and it's large size means it will look incredible laid out on a table top for guests to browse through.

Each country is given a two page spread which features an array of images (usually one large image and three - four smaller images), a paragraph introducing the country, info on the capital, population, land area and language, before looking at best times to visit, things to see and do, resources of things to explore to find out more about each country (things to read, listen, watch, eat and drink), typical things that epitomise the country in question and a random fact to interest you. It also includes a map of the country and surrounding nations.

The photography is incredible throughout and after flicking through the countries I have personally visited I found them to be fairly representative. This is a great way to inspire you to visit particular locations and I soon became engrossed with flicking through each page and soaking up the info on offer. The only problem with this format is that small countries get equal coverage to large countries and when a country is as vast and diverse as, say the United States or China, the imagery doesn't do true justice to how varied the country truly is. This is a minor niggle with the format though and one that is hard to counter in a book of this size and type.

All in all this book serves to whet your appetite to make you want to visit some of the stunning places around the world and it will introduce you to some of the lesser known countries as well. It is well laid out and informative and makes for a delightful coffee table book for your home or, alternatively, office environment.

Feel free to check out my blog which can be found on my profile page.
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on 17 August 2013
I gave this book to a colleague who was thinking about travelling somewhere and she loved it . it is not a book to take with you but helps with the initial "where shall I go ? " . excellent value for money.
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on 31 October 2011
If you need to get inspiration to travel, or just want to enjoy a good browse, this is a real gem. First saw it in a doctors surgery and just had to have one. Don't wait...do the same.
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VINE VOICEon 23 November 2010
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
...you could attach a leg at each corner and it'd make a nice one. Seriously, its nice for a browse / flick thru but thats about all. The tone is relentlessly upbeat - everywhere the natives are warm,friendly and generous, despite wars, hardships and repression. The only country we are actively cautioned against visiting is Iraq - North Korea, Somalia, Burma (sorry - Myanmar) are all just fine. The political correctness (or incorrectness in this case) even extends to listing the island of Ireland as a single country - something many natives of Northern Ireland may just have some issues with. I like the way each country, huge or tiny, get the same amount of space - 2 pages, with half a page of text, each. The text is necessarily sketchy and sometimes glib, but mostly interesting, being impressions and random references rather than facts and figures - no statistics here. The photos are, of course, of the highest quality and frequently stunning but as others have noted, very people-oriented. Personally, in a book of this type, I'd be looking for landscapes, street scenes, architechture and natural beauty - but the editors selection of craggy goatherds, cute schoolkids and dreadlocked fishermen gets a bit cliched and wearying for me. If you're more a people person this may be a positive for you. It's a beautiful book, it's fun, it's very positive and uplifting - buy it if thats what you fancy, but not if you need a travel guide or encyclopedia.
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