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National Geographichas used the same illustration-rich concept for this small-format (16" × 6.7" × 5.1") volume as for its larger National Geographic Visual History of the World(2005), although it claims this work is all new. The text is divided into eight sections, or epochs-"Prehistory," "First Empires," "Ancient World," "Middle Ages," "Early Modern History," "Modern History," "The World Wars and the Interwar Period," and "Contemporary World"-each of which opens with a double-page introduction. Every topic is covered in a double-page layout, although some topics (e.g., ancient Egypt; Napoléon) have been subdivided to give them several pages' coverage. The double-page layout includes a time-frame heading, a colored tab indicating the section, a time line, the main text, colored sidebars or additional boxes focusing on an aspect of the topic, cross-references, and four to seven high-quality color and black-and-white illustrations-portraits as well as photos of artwork and artifacts (1500 in all). The photos have the clarity and color intensity we have come to expect from this publisher, but they are frustratingly small. As in the larger Visual History, maps are conspicuously absent. The general index includes no subdivisions, which makes some entries (e.g., on the United States, Great Britain, and the Holy Roman empire) essentially a long list of undifferentiated page numbers. Certain index entries one might expect as subdivisions (e.g., those on individual U.S. presidents) are given separate entries rather than drawn together under a main heading.
—Rosanne M. Cordell