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.
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.
This is a very large, heavy and beautiful book, illustrating and giving key facts about each country in the world and a few places which are not really countries such as Puerto Rico and the Bahamas as well.
The photographs are amazing and the key facts tell you what to see, what to do, what to eat, and give a sort description of each country.
This is a big book - perfect for a large coffee table, and would make a great present for anyone with an interest in travelling. It has already sparked some ideas of where I would like to go...
on 18 March 2014
This is a great book if you are looking for a bit of information on each country. It is not a travel guide or an in depth resource for any country. I bought this as I wanted to be able to have a snapshot of every single country, and to learn a little bit about it, and that is exactly what this book provides. There is a two page spread for every country in the world and each one contains photograph(s), facts and information. The information provided for each country includes traditional food and drink, a word or pharse in the language of that country and a random fact. It also includes, where relevant, trademarks related to that country. As you can tell, this is not an informative travel guide but it is a great snapshot and very fun to read.
on 8 May 2012
The book is interesting for an overview, but there were a few bits for certain countries which were just catagorically wrong.
For example, Qatar. This is a small country, but that's no excuse for the misinformation. It seems to think that Palm Tree Island is Qatar's answer to Dubai's "The Palm". No. Palm tree island was an island which used to have a mini resort, but has been long closed and the island is now disused. The Pearl, however, is similar to Dubai's Palm, being an artificially engineered structure which is definitely worth a visit. Anybody who's been to Qatar would know this - it's evident that the authors have not. As another example, the picture for Ukraine appeared actually to be a picture of Russia... a pretty poor mistake, really.
A book like this has so much potential and I would enjoy reading it but I'm often wary that I'm being misinformed. Maybe a newer edition will correct these issues...