CL -- Geography; Cartography; Travel

Meyers großer Weltatlas: Der Atlas des 21. Jahrhunderts [Meyer’s Great World Atlas: The Atlas of the 21st Century]. Project leader: Ulrike Emrich. Cartographic preparation: Hammond World Atlas Corporation. 8th rev. and updated ed. Mannheim [et al.]: Meyers Lexikonverlag, 2005 [i.e., 2004]. 600 p. ill., maps. 37 cm. + 1 CD-ROM. ISBN 3-411-08828-1: EUR 99.95 [05-1-206]

The eighth edition of Meyer’s world atlas intends not only to meet the needs of our mobile society for accurate information, but also to allow the reader to undertake virtual voyages of discovery around the world. The accompanying CD-ROM, which updates the seventh edition (Mannheim [et al.], 2001, see IFB 02-1-143) provides direct access to digital maps of various scales. Additional functionalities are day/night views, alternation of political and topographical maps, and the ability to overlay, through dissolving, networks of waterways and pro?les of elevations. One problem is that the resolution and geographic detail are too low, and excerpts from the maps are too small to allow comfortable use. The CD-ROM, however, is a welcome innovation and holds potential for increasing the multimedia components of popular atlases.

The heart of the atlas remains the conventional printed version, which is divided into four sections. The first is the thematic section, which treats subjects from physical and cultural geography. As befits a popular work, it discusses subjects relevant to politics or tourism (climatology, geo-ecology, population growth, etc.). Articles are precise and informative. Section 2 contains satellite photos; section 3, the main maps and index; and section 4, routes and roadmaps of German-speaking countries with an index. This title is in all respects a monumental and important work. The satellite photos are of high quality and a valuable addition to the maps, which are based on the cartography of Hammond World Atlas Corporation and leave nothing to be desired in their quality and ease of use. A few minor criticisms are in order: the form of place names is inconsistent—they are usually in German but sometimes in the local language; the commentaries accompanying the maps are so brief as to be too superficial and sometimes even misleading; and the fourth section might just as well be omitted, as the maps are not detailed enough to use for trip or route planning.

Aside from the few criticisms, Meyers Großer Weltatlas is a standard cartographic work, aesthetically pleasing, and a valuable addition to any bookshelf. Despite its high cost, it should also be included in smaller libraries. [jh/mjc]

Atlantica: der neue grosse Satelliten-Weltatlas [The New Comprehensive Satellite World Atlas]. Ed. Armin Sinnwell. Gütersloh; München: Bertelsmann-Lexikon-Institut; Wissen-Media-Verlag, 2004. x, 486 p. ill. maps. 36 cm. ISBN 3-577-07215-6: EUR 68 [05-1-207]

Atlantica strives to deliver "exciting views and fascinating insights into the spatial structure of the Earth" through the juxtaposition of conventional map pages and large-format satellite images. In the general thematic first part, the atlas presents the earth as a whole, showing continents in maps (1:30,000,000) and satellite images (1:4,500,000) as well as selected details of this large area in the satellite image. The organization of the second part provides a structured survey: after a double-page map come one or more double pages of satellite pictures, which show clearly defined or representative excerpts from the large area depicted. There is no Eurocentric bias: Europe receives 60 pages, Africa 68, and Asia 88.

Through the use of identical scales the maps provide a good comparison among the individual regions in a broad overview, but they are much too poor in details. There is not enough differentiation among individual images, and the layout of the maps is hard to adjust to. Highlands, lowlands, and deserts are almost identically shaded and colored. Excerpts from satellite images are accompanied by fairly brief and superficial explanatory texts. The excerpts are also shown in the same scale as the broader source map; a larger scale would have been more helpful.

The satellite photographs are of high quality and leave a lasting impression on the reader. But many maps are lacking in details and suffice only for a broad overview. One wishes for a balanced depiction of respective large areas in lower-scale and for clearly defined geographic details in high resolution. Although many of the satellite pictures satisfy this expectation, the assemblage is like a chance potpourri. In the Europe portion, except for the Scandinavian tundra, the new Öresund Bridge, Mallorca, and the Danube Delta, the photographs are of large cities. For other regions the selection is more balanced, although many familiar landmarks (e.g., Mt. Kilimanjaro, the Great Wall of China, the Aral Sea, and the Ganges Delta) are regrettably missing.

Thus, this work cannot be considered to be a complete or even representative picture of the earth. Regettably there is no index to the satellite images and the accompanying texts. As a photo album, the Atlantica holds a certain charm. Readers searching for geographic information will want to look for conventional atlases like the Meyers grosser Weltatlas [Meyer’s Great World Atlas— see RREA 11:169) or atlases reviewed in RREA 8:223-228. [jh/ga]

Der grosse Wissen.de-Weltatlas [The Great Wissen.de World Atlas]. Ed. Glenn Riedel. Gütersloh; München: Wissen-Media-Verlag, 2002. viii, 488 p. ill. maps. 36 cm. ISBN 3-577-13506-9: EUR 49.95 [05-1-208]

A number of reference works published by Wissen-Media-Verlag bear the name of the Internet portal wissen.de in their title, although the relationship of this atlas to that site remains unclear. Also, the statement that all maps show regions in the same scale is untrue. The largest scale, used for Europe alone, does not actually produce more detail, but only enlarges the reproduction of the map to increase readability (e.g., makes the type larger). The cartography attracts attention through its relatively strong colors and shading. The supplementary maps of Germany, Austria, and Switzerland are useful. The index and use of pictographs to indicate items of geographic interest are confusing. Symbols are not self-explanatory, and nations are identified by the international country-of-origin code used on vehicle license plates. The index, however, is not arranged by the country code, but alphabetically by the name of the country. Cross references in the index are insufficient.

In the current market for atlases, satellite photos have become indispensable, and those in this one are of large areas with little detail. The perspective is panoramic rather than aerial. Commentaries are pedestrian and sound more like what one would find in a tourist brochure.

Included is a section called a "knowledge trainer": it contains a geography test (similar to a quiz show with multiple- choice answers), crossword puzzles, board games, and similar items. Altogether, the cartographic material is passable, though the atlas shows many weaknesses in concept and product quality. It is worthwhile for the potential purchaser to examine other products, especially the Illustrierte Weltatlas [The Illustrated World Atlas] (Osterfildern, 2003—see RREA 11:172) before making a decision. [hdw/mjc]

Illustrierter Weltatlas: das neue Bild der Kontinente [Illustrated World Atlas: The New View of the Continents]. Ambros Brucker. Ostfildern: Falk, 2003. xvi, 241, [119] p. ill. 37 cm. (New world ed.). ISBN 3-8279-0011-5: EUR 34.95 [05-1-209]

Somewhat slimmer and noticeably less expensive than the competing Großer Wissen.de-Weltatlas [Great Wissen.de World Atlas] (see RREA 11:171), the Illustrierter Weltatlas offers other advantages as well. Among these are: three two-page maps of the oceans (nothing comparable in Wissen.de), maps of the Arctic and Antarctic on a larger scale than in Wissen.de, and a time-zone map. Also offered are 1:13,000,000 maps of such world regions as north Asia, Polynesia/New Zealand, and northern and southern Africa. Physical maps of continents are placed at the head of the respective continent sections, rather than together in the "World" section as in Wissen.de.

The layout and sequencing of text introductions, thematic and generic maps, tables, etc., are also strong; texts in particular are noteworthy for their grace and readability. In comparison with Wissen.de, the maps bring greater visibility to settlement and transportation patterns and less to physical relief. The index, too, is more usefully arranged and makes better use of pictograms than does the competition. Another outstanding feature is the 16-page section on physical geography. Overall this atlas is remarkably well organized, readable, attractive, and informative, at an unexpectedly reasonable cost. [hdw/gw]

Bertelsmann, Der grosse Deutschland-Atlas [Bertelsmann’s Comprehensive Atlas of Germany]. Chief cartographer: Glenn Riedel. Ed. Armin Sinnwell. Gütersloh; München: Bertelsmann-Lexikon-Institut, 2003. 480 p. ill. 26 cm. ISBN 3-577-13531-X: EUR 49.95 [05-1-210]

Atlases focusing only on Germany are rare, which makes this work particularly welcome. It includes both overview and detailed maps of high quality with relief shading. The atlas integrates aerial and satellite photographs with cartography in a unique way: each map is followed by one or more double pages with satellite or aerial photos. The map page includes explanatory text. A considerable portion of the photos are of urban areas, but one also finds photos of islands, regional landscapes, rivers, and mountains, as well as industrial complexes. Accompanying text is brief but acceptable. The index is not quite satisfactory. Overall, this atlas is a successful attempt—although it does not offer a systematic presentation, it invites browsing and generates a great number of unusual insights. [hdw/mjc]

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Last update: March 2009 [BG]
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