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Traveller's Guide to Planet Earth (Lonely Planet Traveller's Guide to Planet Earth) Paperback – 5 Nov 2010
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The "Planet Earth" TV series from 2006 set out to film some of the most remote and uninhabited (by humans) places on the planet, so a guidebook that attempts to give you tourist information about all of them is always going to have a tough job. If you were serious about a 'holiday' in any of these places, you would be looking at many thousands of pounds, and several weeks of travel- there are no weekend breaks here.
Such holidays are so unique and usually customised by expert travel agents that there's very little real 'guidebook'-style information here- there are almost no hotel listings (because there are usually no hotels in these places), very little travel information, and certainly no prices. As the book itself says, "you can't put a price on adventure" (p146), though it's probably also a case of "if you have to ask then it's out of your range" as well. What you do get is a few web addresses for some travel operators, and that's it. As well as feeling a bit short of useful information, it's also a little bit lacking in real character- there's not a lot of proper travel writing in it and what there is doesn't often invoke a real sense of any of the places being discussed. So as a Lonely Planet guidebook, it's a bit thin on the ground.
As a TV tie-in book it works better. The book is sorted into ten chapters, each one corresponding with a different episode in the series (with the exception of episode 1, "Pole To Pole", which is ignored as it is more of an overview of the breadth of the planet), and within each chapter different sections of the programme get six pages each- firstly a brief explanation of where the Planet Earth team filmed and then a travel writer's notes on the "experience" (which range from insightful to pretentious, and sometimes make you think the writer has just watched the TV show rather than actually been there), each accompanied with a handful of stunning photographs. The print quality is excellent and the production values of the publication are high so as such it makes a very nice coffee table book. Then each section has two pages of text that are a brief introduction to what would be involved if you wanted to get there yourself, which in some cases is simply not possible, so occasional alternative destinations are suggested. Chapter 11, "Deep Ocean", predictably isn't as long as the others.
So this book is a little bit short of scientific detail and depth to support the series (for that you could try the other tie-in book Planet Earth: As You've Never Seen It Before). The photographs are not as good as watching the show in high definition (if you can, buy the Blu-Ray Planet Earth - Special Edition [Blu-ray]- absolutely the best way to show off your HDTV if you've got one), and there is another, larger and more extensive Planet Earth photography book already- Planet Earth: The Photographs. And by Lonely Planet standards it barely serves as a real guidebook to anywhere, only the briefest of introductions, and a bit more text about the character of the travel experience would've been welcome.
Despite my criticisms it is still a lovely book, more inspiring than useful but definitely inspiring, and very tempting to pick up and dip into regularly, and I'm probably just jealous because I'll never get to go to most of the amazing places in the book.
Some of the destinations featured might be beyond the reach, physically or financially, of most of us but it doesn't mean we can't dream about visiting them and the book is also full of extraordinary photographs to aid the fantasy. Maybe that's the perfect use for this book, sitting on your bedside table ready to stimulate dreams of far-off places? Of course, it also works as an excellent souvenir of an excellent TV travel series...
This is supposed to be a companion to the series, which was billed as part of the BBC's science/nature output but was really a very luxurious travelogue. Younger children will like the book as it's a wonderful visual feast, older children will look at it once and then ignore it as there is nothing really informative in it. Adults will find it migrates to the toilet library and stays there until you throw it way. A missed opportunity, again, just like the series.
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It takes some breathtakingly natural beautiful places around the world, and creates a sort of...Read more
Great as a gift or as a coffee table book!
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