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The Times of London Concise Atlas of the World

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 1, 2001

    A new landmark in printed world atlases

    Of the dozens of recent world atlases that I have seen in the past seven years, this one overall speaking offers the most value of all. This world atlas is advertised as 'an abridged version of the famous Times Comprehensive Atlas of the World', but it is absolutely more than just that. Without doubt, this 8th Concise edition is by far the best rendition of the world on paper available in 2000 (fully generated from digital GIS databases). New maps in this set of unbelievably accurate plates include central Japan, the Washington-New York area, and Central Mexico. Also, urban center maps of the world's largest cities have now been included on the reference maps themselves, something that is missing in the Comprehensive edition. The color coding has improved considerably compared to previous editions; though not completely consistent overall, most maps are beautiful to look at, and provide for a very high level of legibility because of the subtle coloring (no relief shading, but layer tints are used, which reduces the 3D effect, but does add to the overall legibility of the maps). The font sizes have been reduced too, allowing for the available space to be used much more efficiently (though some elderly people may find the fonts too small). This results in an index size of over 125,000 entries, which is absolutely stunning for a world atlas of this size (the nearest competitor reaches 112,000, most are stuck at 100,000 entries). The maps include many local roads, points of interest, national parks, nature reserves, and, amazingly, lots of villages with a population of less than 1,000. The thematic section has been expanded as well to include highly detailed satellite images of the continents, topics such as earthquakes, volcanoes, climate, oceans, population, urbanization, and modern communications. There is also a nice section on revolutions in cartography, comparing the time-consuming process of using copper plates for map production to the current digital database possibilities. There is also an elaborate section on the states and territories of the world. The atlas also has a few minor negative points: the gutter between the pages is sometimes so small that some data is lost between the pages; and, the focus is mostly on Europe; especially North America should have deserved a bit more attention. Since this world atlas is marketed in North America only, the publisher apparently assumes that customers do not need more U.S. maps, but are interested in other parts of the world. If that is true, this world atlas is bound to become a bestseller. The atlas comes in hardback format including a protective slipcase and may be considered a very large book, but not so large that it becomes un-handable. Kudos to Times!

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