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The Penguin Atlas of World History: Volume 1: From Prehistory to the Eve of the French Revolution (Penguin Reference Books) Paperback – May 25, 2004

3.6 out of 5 stars 22 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Hermann Kinder & Werner Hilgemann
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Product Details

  • Series: Penguin Reference Books
  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books; Revised edition (May 25, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141012633
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141012636
  • Product Dimensions: 4.4 x 0.6 x 7.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.3 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #184,840 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
As a reader I like to have quick reference books at my finger tips including a new version of the Oxford English Dictionary about 3500 pages long - that I use almost daily. So I decided to add a "history atlas". In the process of doing my research I read the other amazon.com reviewers and then made three trips to two large book stores to actually look at the books and get a better feel for which was the best. I ended up buying the Oxford Atlas of World History. Here are my picks and rankings.

Listed by My ranking, #1 is the best, #2 is a creative alternative but no substitute.

1. Atlas of World History, Oxford University Press 2002, 368 pages, $57.80, 13.5" x 10.3" x 1.62" ranked 46,632 on Amazon.com. Hands down winner - professional - good text descriptions, outstanding maps and drawings, covers most things from the cave man forward. Negatives: Big and heavy. If you want to save a few dollars buy the "concise" version.

2. Creative alternative: The Penguin Atlas of World History, Penguin Books 2004, $11.20, just a paperback sized, just published, 304 pages. Surprisingly impressive, lots of text and pictures mixed together and it is easy to carry around. A nice quick alternative but it will be printed in two volumes.

3. Timelines of World History, DK Publishing 2002, 666 pages, $27.20. 10.0" x 1.6" ranked 25,800 on Amazon.com. Second with lots of value but in some ways not as comprehensive.

4. National Geographic Almanac of World History, National Geographic 2003, 384 pages, $28.00, 9.6" x 7.8" x 1.17" ranked 24,426 on Amazon.com. Similar to but less impressive than Oxford books. More text, narrower coverage, fewer maps and drawings.

5. DK Atlas of World History, DK Publishing, 352 pages, $35.00, 10.96" x 14.66" x 1.
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Format: Paperback
Note the small size of this atlas (7"x4.5"), and you'll understand the low cost. Therein lie many compromises. This atlas does continue a lot of useful information, but it often fails as a self-contained atlas. The biggest problem is the maps themselves, which are quite "pixilated"; not sure if that's because of the way they were drawn, or something to do with the printing process. But the final effect is one that makes many of the maps difficult to use; I kept having to pull out a larger map or atlas to understand where it was that I was looking at on the Penguin map. I found the complete loss of artistic quality more troublesome than the actual loss in content. I learned using this atlas, but did not enjoy the experience.

The atlas will surely fail to satisfy anyone that loves maps and higher quality atlases. We have to suppose this is an atlas meant for students, and for that purpose, it likely is a useful resource at a reasonable price.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I have loved maps and history for longer than I care to admit and I was fortunate enough to have a father who shared these interests and provided a fertile and far-ranging "garden" of books for my edification and enjoyment growing up. One of my favorites was this book. The story skips ahead many years--I decided to look for this book, which had been out of print or at least unavailable for a long time. I found it here on Amazon and ordered it, along with another larger highly touted atlas from another publisher (rated #1 by another reviewer). Much to my delight and surprise, the Penguin atlas has aged quite well (to be expected given the period covered). Its strength lies in the abundance and thoroughness of the map coverage--where other atlases give one map, this one often gives three or more--and in the "extracurricular" material such as diagrams illustrating governmental organization. Incidentally, I was sorely disappointed in the other atlas, which cost far more and sported foolish and uninformative cartographic projections as well as such vast lacunae in coverage as to render it virtually worthless as a serious reference.

As I see it, the heart of any atlas worth its salt must be its maps and this compact, user-friendly little volume offers such a wealth of these that it exposes other historical atlases as the patchy, inadequate waste of paper most of them are. I don't buy an atlas for text--though this atlas has excellent if necessarily skeletal narrative accompaniment--I buy it for the maps, to complement my reading.
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Format: Paperback
This book really does cover nearly all events that have taken place in this period of history, But it is written in the shortest form possible. I really recommend this book as well as its second edition to anyone who truly loves history.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This and Volume II are reprints of the old Anchor Atlas of World History. I received that edition as a birthday present when I was 10, and it played a huge role in the development of my passion for history. Leaving through the pages year after year wore the old edition out for day to day use(it is still faithfully preserved!), and I was happy to replace it with the reprint.

For the size, portability, and cost, you cannot do any better than this. Yes, the print is tiny, and much of it is basically written in shorthand My dad read through it back in the day and wondered who "Gks" were (the Greeks). The maps are detailed, but stylized, and can definitely use geographic terms in somewhat misleading or cryptic ways.

The book isn't Euro-centric: it's German centric. I suppose this makes sense as, if I recall, it was originally published as a supplement to a German history TV documentary aired in the late 60s. But the upshot is that you *will* know everything you never wanted to know about the Ottonians, the Invesititure crisis, the Hohenstaufens, the Interregnum, the House of Luxemburg, etc. etc.: Germany gets five maps with the same number of pages of text for the High Middle Ages (900-1200) alone. East Asia gets its history from about 200 to 1200 squished into a page. But overall, it is still an excellent reference, with useful dynastic family trees, schematic diagrams, and very detailed overviews of world history topics. The sections on ancient history are simply great as a reference. It is indispensable for the historian.
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