CL2 -- Special Report

Special Report: Survey of World Atlases

Weltatlas: Atlas zum 21. Jahrhundert [World Atlas: Atlas for the 21st Century]. Ed. Jörg Radtke. 3d completely rev. ed. Leipzig; Mannheim: F. A. Brockhaus, 2001. 600 p. sep. pagination. ill. maps. 36 cm. (Brockhaus, Die Enzyklopädie: in 24 Bänden). ISBN 3-7653-3437-5: DM 298.00 (no longer available) [02-1-142]

Meyers großer Weltatlas: Atlas zum 21. Jahrhundert [Meyer’s World Atlas: Atlas for the 21st Century]. Ed. Jörg Radtke. Cartography: Hammond World Atlas Corporation. 7th completely rev. ed. Mannheim [et al.]: Meyers Lexikonverlag, 2001. 600 p. sep. pagination. ill. maps. 36 cm. ISBN 3-411-08827-3: EUR 99.95 [02-1-143]

Weltatlas: Atlas zum 21. Jahrhundert [World Atlas: Atlas for the 21st Century]. Ed. Jörg Radtke. Cartography: Hammond World Atlas Corporation. 3d completely rev. ed. Gütersloh: Bertelsmann-Lexikon-Verlag, 2001. 600 p. sep. pagination. ill. maps. 36 cm. (Bertelsmann-Lexikothek). ISBN 3-577-16031-4: EUR 198.00 (direct order only) [02-1-144]

Meyers neuer Weltatlas [Meyer’s New World Atlas]. Ed. Jörg Radtke. Cartography: Hammond World Atlas Corporation. 5th completely rev. ed. Mannheim [et al.]: Meyers Lexikonverlag, 2001. 328 p. ill. maps. 37 cm. ISBN 3-411-07495-7: EUR 45.50 [02-1-145]

DuMont’s grosser Weltatlas [DuMont’s Comprehensive World Atlas]. Ed. Andrew Heritage. Transl. (from English) Beatrice Janzon. Köln: DuMont, 2000. xxxvi, 480 p. ill. maps. 46 cm. Uniform title: Atlas of the Millennium. ISBN 3-7701-5429-0: EUR 155.00 [02-1-146]

Knaurs grosser Weltatlas [Knaur’s Comprehensive World Atlas]. Cartography: Bartholomew. München: Droemer Knaur, 2000. 219 p. 46 cm. Uniform title: The Times Comprehensive Atlas of the World. ISBN 3-426-66422-4: EUR 255.00 [02-1-147]

The first three titles listed above offer the same content in different binding: a topical section, satellite images, maps, an index, as well as a section of driving routes with its own index. Geographic and geopolitical thematic maps with well written commentary for the general public address some 30 topics, such as tectonics, population, and climate. Satellite images illustrate volcanism and types of coastlines, as well as provide topographical views of Europe, Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. Small insert maps positioned at the upper edge of pages serve to orient the reader to the location of the corresponding detailed images. At 224 pages, the map section of each edition is the most extensive part of the work. The high quality of the digital cartography by Hammond, the pioneer in digital map imaging, is reflected in the vibrant colors, clear elevation shading, and legible legends. The atlas can also boast improved functionality thanks to finding aids associated with each map, such as the overview map insets, coordinate divisions, and other search points, which are then listed in the index.

The three works suffer, however, from two weak points. First is the multitude of distance scales, which makes comparing distances among maps difficult. Second is the lack of uniformity in the use of geographical names. Generally, place names as they appear in the country of origin predominate, except when a German term exists.

Meyers neuer Weltatlas is a slimmed down version of the previous work. It contains only a selection of the thematic and satellite maps, and omits the driving routes section. The maps section, however, is virtually identical. With an affordable price and a compact format, this is a useful alternative to the titles above.

DuMont’s grosser Weltatlas is the German-language edition of Dorling Kindersley’s Atlas of the Millennium. Like the previous titles, it consists of a thematic section with topics such as population, world economy, and seas of the world, and a much larger section of regional maps. Satellite maps are integrated into the main map section. The inclusion of additional information, such as a dictionary of countries, a page of flags of the world, and various lists (of the highest mountains, etc.), suggests that DuMont’s may be most appropriate as a personal or home atlas. Several negative aspects need to be mentioned. The page layout with the map in the center surrounded by blocks of commentary and additional materials causes the maps to get lost in the shuffle at times. Even finding aids such as inset maps, coordinates, and page indicators are hard to pick out in the crowd of information blocks. And the variety of distance scales again makes it difficult to compare between maps. Finally, the labeling of place names is simply confusing. On the regional maps, the local designation is used; on the continental maps, however, the German equivalents of these same place names are used. The cartography is very good, but does not achieve the same level as the Hammond digital maps.

Knaurs grosser Weltatlas, the “classic” among atlases, is based on the Millennium Edition of the Times Atlas of the World and uses state-of-the art digital cartography. Like the other titles discussed here, it also begins with satellite photos, followed by a thematic section with information on earthquakes, climate, population, etc. Unlike the other works, Knaurs uses the local name of locations exclusively, but includes the German designation in parentheses. The regional maps are the real strength of Knaurs, and there are five pages of maps of the oceans. Despite its positive aspects, Knaurs is not perfect. The use of different shades of a color for the relief maps makes these maps difficult to interpret compared to the distinct color scheme used in the Brockhaus atlas. The negligible difference in color shading from one elevation to the next makes distinguishing one geographical entity from another nearly impossible. The variety of distance scales still makes comparison difficult, though Knaurs has fewer such scales than the other titles. The real strength of this work is the 200-plus page index. More than 200,000 entries are listed, now integrated into a single index (no longer divided into the main index and a special index for German terms as in previous editions). Entries include map plate number, search field, administrative affiliation, alternative forms of the name, and exact coordinates of the location. Knaurs is unmatched as a reference atlas and belongs in every library. [hdw/jb]

Der historisch-topographische Köln-Atlas [The Historical-Topographical Atlas of Cologne]. Ed. DorotheaWiktorin. Köln: Emons, 2001. 221 p. ill. 34 cm. ISBN 3-89705-229-6: EUR 48.00 [02-1-148]

Although there is an extensive literature about Cologne, a historical-thematic atlas has not been available until now. This work, which fills the gap, is out of the ordinary in both design and content. The emphasis of the current over the historical is unusual, as is the enormous breadth of what is included. The special strength of this atlas lies in its varied and well-made thematic maps. The classic areas such as climate, population, transportation, and economy are covered. But in addition, there are many maps that treat unusual and unexpected topics—for example, “Green Cologne” includes the location of cemeteries and private gardens (“Schrebergärten”), as well as parks and nature preserves. Perhaps the most original map shows the routes of the processions for Corpus Christi Day, the carnival parades, the Christopher-Street-Day parade, and the Cologne marathon! The accompanying text is well written and offers new information even to the knowledgeable reader. Photos and satellite images are also included. This unconventional work is a valuable addition to the literature on Cologne. [hdw/vh]

Lexikon der Kartographie und Geomatik: in zwei Bänden [Dictionary of Cartography and Computational Earth Sciences in Two Volumes]. Ed. Jürgen Bollmann and Wolf Günther Koch. 2 vols. Heidelberg: Spektrum, Akademischer Verlag, 2001–2002. xv, 453, viii, 455 p. ill. 25 cm. ISBN 3-8274-1136-X (set): EUR 298.00, ISBN 3-8274-1149-1 (book + CD-ROM): EUR 447.00 [02-2-435]

There hasn’t been a new comprehensive German-language technical dictionary of cartography published since the 1980s, e.g., the Brockhaus-ABC-Kartenkunde in 1983. This probably has to do with the tremendous changes the field has been undergoing. This exciting new reference work attempts to integrate the new developments of the field, even when an area itself is so fresh that its terminology has not yet been standardized. The scope of the dictionary, which also appears as a full-text searchable CD-ROM, is wide, from the theoretical to the applied, from the mathematical to the social, and English translations are given for the over 5,000 German terms. Inconsistencies in the cross-referencing of synonyms and antonyms will need to be corrected in the next edition.

The Lexikon der Kartographie und Geomatik is a project of the Kommission für Kartographische Terminologie [Commission for Cartographic Terminology] of the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Kartographie [German Association for Cartography] and as such carries the highest scholarly authority. It is a new core resource for the field and belongs in libraries of all types. [hdw/ldb]

Durch Wüste und Steppe: Entdeckerlexikon arabische Halbinsel; Biographien und Berichte [Through Desert and Steppe: Encyclopedia of Explorers of the Arabian Peninsula; Biographies and Reports]. Uwe Pfullmann. Berlin: Trafo-Verlag Weist, 2001. 562 p. 25 cm. ISBN 3-809626-328-5: EUR 45.80 [02-1-150]

The scope of this collective biography covers researchers and travelers in the Arabian Peninsula from the 14th to the 20th centuries. The most serious of many shortcomings is the content of the entries. Many well-known explorers are given short shrift, while entries for others seem downright random. The entry for Leopold Weiss, for instance, includes nothing about the many publications of this convert from Judaism to Islam (his critical English translation of the Koran, his autobiography, his early travel writings) or about his longtime position as Near East foreign correspondent for the Frankfurter Allgemeine newspaper. Roughly half of the single-page entry for Weiss consists of a single quotation from an assessment of the economic situations of Arabian pilgrimage sites. Given the unclear criteria for inclusion of material, the clumsy disposition of articles, and the inferior quality of article content, this volume should be passed up. There are enough serious reference works on explorers in which the important figures for Arabia may be found, for example the Enzyklopädie der Entdecker und Erforscher der Erde [Encyclopedia of Explorers and Discoverers of the World] (Graz, 1978– ). [sh/rb]

Next Section

Previous Section
Table of Contents

Comments, suggestions, or questions
Last update: March 6, 2006 [BG]
2006 Casalini libri - VAT no. IT03106600483