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The World's Great Wonders: How They Were Made & Why They Are Amazing (Lonely Planet) Hardcover – 14 Mar 2014
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As with their other similar books, the information provided within is succinct and thus is best seen as a great source of inspiration rather than a guide to any specific place. Each section follows a similar format, containing an introduction to the wonder, a section on getting there, another paragraph on while you are there and then further information that is more specific to that particular wonder. The only downside for me is that there are quite a lot of diagrams, which whilst useful, take away opportunities for more beautiful photos. From Mount Everest to the Dead Sea; The Eiffel Tower to the Terracotta Warriors, there is something for everyone.
Both the author, Jheni Osman, and Dan Cruickshank (who provides the foreword) admit that the list is highly selective and it cannot be anything but, given the page count. But Osman has managed to cram in a broad selection of old favourites that will surprise no-one by their inclusion (the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, the Taj Mahal and the Great Wall of China, for example) and a host of slightly more offbeat choices, such as the Maglev train and the Large Hadron Collider.
Split into two sections (Natural and Man-made Wonders), each entry starts with a quirky first-person introduction, followed by information on how to reach the destination and a few alternatives to view whilst in the neighbourhood; an explanation of the wonder then follows, complete with sidebars and graphics and a few alternatives from around the globe. In some cases, these are frustratingly short, teasing you with interesting information before jumping on to the next thing. The world-wide alternatives are not always given anymore page space than a photograph, leaving you wondering why those particular places had been chosen over any others.
But this really is a minor point – the book is interesting, and serves as a pretty introduction to a host of intriguing places. You would need to carry out further research before visiting any of the locations mentioned, but the book never pretends that its job is to do anything more than whet you appetite as to what is out there for the enthusiastic traveller.
In some cases, you even get to hear about the weather-- and I feel that the essence of such a book is to make you wish you were there even if the writers don't actually say "Wish you were here!"
The Great Wonders covered by the compiler comprise 20 natural and 30 man made (or maybe alien-made in the case of the Nazca Lines!)--and Oh! for the chance to see just a few of them!! This is exactly the sort of book that makes you want to get on a plane tomorrow.
Many of the sights are very well-known such as The Great Barrier Reef and The Colosseum, but the information about each is so detailed and atmospheric it feels as if you are hearing about these places for the first time or that you are with a very knowledgeable tour guide. You are brought right up to date with efforts to preserve these Wonders against environmental or natural entropy.
Some are less well-known such as the rock Church of St George in Ethiopia and the Three Gorges Dam in China . Modern constructions such as the Burj Khalifa and the Large Hadron Collider are fascinating contrasts to the Alhambra or The Great Mosque of Djenne.
It is a small book (A2 I think) but a high quality publication which is a joy to flick through and fascinating to study. Obviously there is not the space in this format to satisfy someone studying such things in depth, but this is an appetiser for anyone planning an adventurous holiday and is suitable for early teens and up.
I acquired this for my grandson but he will have to wait for it as I can't put it down! Highly recommended.
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