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VINE VOICEon 7 October 2013
Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I already own the large (very large!) version of The Cities Book, so I thought I'd take a look at this mini version and see whether there were any improvements. It turns out the books have almost exactly the same content, but there's a little less in the mini version, with the most obvious exclusion being the Imports and Exports lists and the Urban Myth paragraphs that feature in the larger edition. These were mildly interesting but didn't help you decide whether to visit a city, so I don't miss their presence too much in this edition. The only other difference I can see is that the space has been used a little better in the mini edition, with less white space left (in the larger book there are spaces left blank which looks as though the writers ran out of ideas). Whether you choose the smaller or larger edition will be a matter of personal preference and will depend more on whether you want a cute, chunky little doorstop of a book to put on your bookshelf, or an impressive coffee table book.

So, onto the content itself. The book contains information on the world's 200 Best Cities. Each city has a four page spread, of which over half the space consists of photos. The information is split into small paragraphs entitled Anatomy, People, Defining Experience, Strengths, Weaknesses, Gold Star, Starring Role In, and then a short section giving one thing to see, eat, drink, do, watch and buy. My favourite section is the Starring Role In which tells you some of the films that have featured the city.

I found the information in general to be quite lacking and often poor quality. The strengths and weaknesses are useful but the section giving things to see etc seems to miss out important things. Looking at the pages for the cities I've been to, they seem to have selected some quite drab things to see and do compared to the amazing things that I know are there but aren't mentioned in this book.

The photos are disappointing too. Often just close ups of people, cars or the side of one building, they don't give much of an idea of the city at all and sometimes seem quite amateurish.

This is a nice book to flick through but it probably won't be a great help in deciding which cities to visit. It is nicely produced with thick, glossy pages, but there's just not enough relevant information included and the photography didn't give me enough of an image of the cities. I wouldn't particularly recommend either this book or its larger counterpart.
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on 15 May 2016
Covers over 150 cities around the world. The information on each is very limited but includes cities you may never have thought of visiting but may want to after reading this, though you would need to find out more elsewhere as this isn't a guide book. Some nice photography too.
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My wife gave me this book as part of a Christmas present last year and sadly it is not as good as either of us had hoped it would be.

The book contains information on 200 cities, most cities span across two pages with at least one photo and the following information for each city:

Nickname
Date of birth
Address
Height
Size
Population
Lonely Planet Ranking
Anatomy
People
Typical people (e.g. for LA this title says ‘typical Angelino’)
Defining Experience
Strengths
Weaknesses
Gold Star
Starring Role In… (list of films)
See
Eat
Drink
Do
Watch
Buy
After Dark

Whilst this formula makes it easy to compare cities should you wish to, it can sometimes feel like the authors have had to improvise somewhat with the truth for certain cities and certain categories. As an example of this, certain cities that I think I know well, e.g. London and New York; the lists of strengths and weaknesses for these two cities are just misleading or often a matter of opinion I don’t agree with (e.g. a strength of London is just ‘the congestion charge’ which with no explanation I find a little random for a travel book?). Which then makes me mistrust information about other cities I do not know.

So hence my middle of the road rating of three stars; this book would have been perfect for me if it contained more visuals and actual facts, rather than trying to put in snapshot ‘strengths’ and ‘weaknesses’ without have the page space to back them up. A shame. So all in all this book is only OK and falls short of expectations, there are definitely better and more inspirational travel books out there.
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VINE VOICEon 6 June 2013
Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Firstly, this is a big chunk of a book, over 2 inches thick, not sure why it's called mini. I did find it interesting for a short while, mostly looking up places I had already been to, and especially UK cities. The pictures are nice, but the content is very basic and very cliché.

One thing I have to say in its favour, I found the `typical Londoner' section amazingly accurate, which makes me think other similar sections may also be acute and there is more substance behind the content than there appears.

I don't see this being of any serious help to the traveller, but as a book to keep in the toilet, for those short morning reads, it's just fine.
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Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Some great pictures to look at, some clichès as expected (for example the main picture for Manchester is the inside of MUFC old Trafford stadium; an the other is inside an art gallery; the city itself is very good looking so why not a city skyline shot?). It's fun to thumb through, and dream of city holidays you've been to or want to go to. It's described as mini, but it's actually a very chunky heavy book. The mini description must be that it is that square shape but other than that it is not something you'd easily want to carry with you. It's definitely a lounge table book.
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VINE VOICEon 27 April 2013
Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I must say I was disappointed when I received this book. I was expecting lovely inspirational city pictorials with some descriptive and inspirational copy on things worth seeing or doing - known and unknown highlights basically... The usual fare that you get with Lonely Planet really.

But what you get, per city, is basically 2 pages of photos (about 2-4 photos) and about a page of text over the span of 4 almost A5 sized pages. The copy is very la-di-da in terms of tone-of-voice and not really helpful, practical or inspirational at all. Only opinionated and terribly pretentious.

I have a couple of other coffee table sized Lonely Planet books (Great Journeys, Great Adventures) and these really are interesting books as they contain some great photography and destination information, as well as travel inspiration and suggested itineraries etc. Yet with this The Cities Book, I cant really find a point to it or a niche that it fills.

If you're after an inspirational, coffee table style book, this isn't it. If you're after something useful and descriptive this isn't it. In fact I don't know what it is. But I will guess that it's a badly executed, Lonely Planet spin-off, only published because they'd gone too far with the project before realising it was awful, yet decided to release it anyway for some potential easy dough.

For me, it's a let down given Lonely Planets humble origins and the good guide books and inspiration coffee table books that they're known for. Avoid.
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VINE VOICEon 15 May 2013
Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
As others have said this isn't a 'mini' book. It may A5-ish in size but it is a heavy book with almost 900 pages.

200 cities are included and given 4 pages each. Each city has some lovely photos and a brief set of facts in categories such as 'people', 'strengths', 'weaknesses' etc.

The information is too brief to really get an idea of whether the city is worth a visit or not, but it makes for a nice book to just flick through.

My only problem is that the categories of 'strengths' and 'weaknesses' are presented in a bullet list which is sometimes so brief they don't mean anything. For example a weakness of Memphis is 'mud island' and a weakness of Belfast is 'July'. I'm not sure what is being referred to in many cases and they aren't explained anywhere else in the book.

Overall this is a nice coffee table book to flick through when you have a spare moment, with some interesting facts and lovely photos.
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VINE VOICEon 27 July 2013
Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
A chunky coffee table weight,....this will probably be used more as a doorstop. Approaching 900-pages, my copy has already experienced a spinal injury from which it will not recover. It's not a mini-volume, and will not travel.

Wonderfully accurate and creative. Smart categories, neat detail, and attractive photography throughout.
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VINE VOICEon 30 July 2013
Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This is a beautiful book both for a coffee table and the armchair traveller. I found it interesting to read and whilst doing so really enjoyed agree/disagree with the comments on cities I have visited and storing up ideas for places I should like to see. Although there is not space for enormous detail about each City what there is was absolutely adequate and I loved the terse descriptions under weaknesses - for example under Bogota it simply states `weaknesses - `guerrillas, cocaine thugs, vast shanty towns, street urchins'. Just reading that would remove the city from anyone's list of places they want to visit! The flash on the cover states that the book is `a journey through the best cities in the world'. Really? I know these things are subjective but for eg `Austin' in Texas? On what other list of `best cities' would this feature? I suppose it is simply an indication that the book is meant for the American market. I also thought there were some very surprising omissions but am aware that this stems from my own prejudices and beliefs in what makes for a `best city'. Overall I enjoyed this book enormously, it has wonderful pictures and certainly avoids the obvious - to take but one example the main picture for Athens is a truly delightful picture entitled `Father and son frolic on Filopoappou Hill overlooking the Acropolis'. The father and son are in the centre of the picture whilst the Acropolis is in the far distance whereas it is almost always the only object in a picture featuring this beautiful city.fjs
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VINE VOICEon 23 September 2013
Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I am huge fan of the Lonely Planet photographic series of books. They are always filled with sumptuous photography and importantly the editorial is always personal, well researched, practical and useful. Lonely Planet obviously produce guidebooks for individual countries and cities and this is not to be confused with those. This falls under the side that is inspirational rather than for being stowed in your backpack. Every couple of pages is dedicated to a new city: in total covering 200. Many of your personal favourites will be missing, for example in the UK, Bath is covered but Bristol is not. This may also help to indicate that this is a traditional collection of destinations and possibly not the one to buy if you are looking for hidden gems or quirky alternatives (Such as 1000 Ultimate Experiences (Lonely Planet General Reference)). However, as always the book is well produced and lovely to look at. This very weighty tome is compressed to the size of a small cube (each page smaller than A5), which does help with its portability but if you are looking for a large coffee table book I would suggest to try elsewhere in the Lonley Planet series such as The Travel Book: A journey through every country in the world (Lonely Planet Travel Book)
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