From Publishers Weekly
Travel the world in five months, see 80 "treasures." This is the conceit behind a recent BBC TV series hosted by architect Cruickshank, who is also the guide in this companion book. He visits, in rapid-fire fashion, fantastic, if not entirely unexpected, places (Egypt's pyramids, the ruins of Peru, the Parthenon), documenting each with sometimes transcendent pictures, but much of the narration is bogged down by Cruickshank's complaints about speeding through the ruins and getting up for early flights to dash from one continent to the next. Cruickshank's descriptions vary in quality, sometimes reading like brochures. (A product, perhaps, of brief visits that don't allow him to absorb anything before he's off to the next destination.) Though some of the destinations seem absurd for a top-80 list (firing a Colt pistol in Durango, Colorado?), Cruickshank is a witty travel agent and his architectural background enriches the best sections. Anyone seriously interested in these marvels will be frustrated by the slight treatment each receives; Cruickshank is too busy traveling to provide much depth. However, fans of the series will appreciate how Cruickshank crams the entire world into one journey and one book.
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The author is a British television journalist and authority on historic buildings, which stood him in good stead as he did a whirlwind--four months--tour of 40 countries on six continents, all for a television series, of which this book is a companion. He ended up visiting 80 historic monuments--human built, not natural wonders. He went to look for big, one-of-a-kind structures, but his definition of historic monuments extended to uniquely regional crafts with an appeal that has endured through the ages. Consequently, his profiles, each one gorgeously illustrated and accompanied by diary entries (in which he not only describes what he saw but also reflects on its importance in a world-heritage context), range from Angkor Watt in Cambodia to the Seagram Building in New York City; from classic Chinese porcelain to Persian carpets; and from Mostar Bridge in Bosnia to Ethiopian illuminated manuscripts. Ready-made for vicarious living by the armchair traveler. Brad HooperCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved