From Library Journal
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Maps and the index are the heart and soul of a good atlas, and Times is impressive in these areas. The 248 pages of maps, produced through digital technology, are beautiful. The colors of the maps have been changed, and the lighter hues show differences in elevation more clearly. The lighter colors combined with a clearer typeface make the place names easier to read.
Starting with Oceania and ending with South America, the book begins each continent section with a political map. There are at least 10 plates for each section, often with more than one map of a region, with the definition increasing with each map. Many atlases are criticized for having less coverage of Asia, but Times has doubled its number of maps on Japan and added five additional pages of maps on China. There is no doubt that the 200,000-plus place-name index is an impressive achievement, far exceeding the index in any competitive atlas. But it seems to have shrunk in certain instances--Morris, New York, and Wahroonga, Australia, were listed in the index and on maps in the ninth edition but are not found in the tenth. The introduction to the index does verify that all listings in the index appear on maps, something not true of all atlases.
The atlas's introductory material is both visually intriguing and interesting to read. The satellite image of the Antarctica is strikingly beautiful. The new millennium is emphasized with double-page spreads of the world in 2000 by subject: earthquakes, oceans, land cover, population, energy, etc. A fact in the climate section (the highest wind velocity in a tornado was recorded in Oklahoma on May 3, 1999) demonstrates the atlas's currency. Statistical information on countries and states precede the maps, while a glossary of geographic terms in languages other than English follows the maps.
The Board noted a few problems with the maps. The city of Constitucion (pop. 40,000) can be found on the detailed map of Chile but not on the general map, although smaller towns in the area appear on both. Using Chile in another example, mistakes are perpetuated from one edition to another. In both the ninth and tenth editions, El Tofo is listed in both the index and on the map as El Toro. But the major criticism of this fine atlas is the lack of city maps. The ninth edition (and other major world atlases) includes inset or full-page maps of cities and their environs. The closest the tenth edition comes is one page each for the area of San Francisco and Los Angeles and a double-page of the U.S. Northeast corridor. Inset maps are reserved for islands: Gibraltar, the Hawaiian Islands, Hong Kong. A minor annoyance is the lack of a symbol for a projected highway on the symbols and abbreviations page.
Despite a few disappointments, this new edition of a classic reference source is a beautiful, comprehensive, and well-done depiction of the world at the beginning of a new millennium. Its closest competitor is the second edition of The Book of the World [RBB Je 1 & 15 99], which is larger and flashier but has an index half the size. Priced at about half the cost of The Book of the World, The Times Atlas of the World should be considered for purchase by all libraries.
Reference Books in brief
The following is a list of additional recent and recommended reference sources.