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Merriam-Webster's Geographical Dictionary 3rd Edition

4.4 out of 5 stars 22 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0877795469
ISBN-10: 0877795460
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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Since 1970 South Africa ended apartheid; Jean-Bertrand Aristide was elected president of Haiti, deposed by military coup then reinstated; San Francisco suffered a major earthquake; and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics dissolved. So it's a good thing Merriam-Webster updated its geographical dictionary to include more than 48,000 alphabetically arranged entries of mountains, lakes, towns, and countries. The third edition had a lot of catching up to do, what with the social, political, financial, and physical upheavals that have taken place since the second edition was published, and the result is a modern and sophisticated reference.

From Library Journal

This classic lists more than 48,000 mountains, lakes, towns, and countries. For each place, it gives pronunciation, location information, and brief textual data. Retain older editions as they are useful for historical research; their larger maps are excellent for photocopying.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 1361 pages
  • Publisher: Merriam-Webster; 3rd edition (1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0877795460
  • ISBN-13: 978-0877795469
  • Product Dimensions: 1.8 x 7.5 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #421,402 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By loce_the_wizard VINE VOICE on September 18, 2002
Format: Hardcover
The Merriam-Webster's Geographical Dictionary is quite good desktop reference for matters of geography, and it offers a fairly thorough resource for place names, a bit of history and background, and enough maps (more than 250) to be helpful for the everyday user. It features the customary characteristics of any dictionary such as pronunciation guides, explanatory notes, and a bevy of abbreviations and symbols. The maps are more detailed than I expected, but certainly this text will not supplant anyone's atlas. (And if your atlas is one of the larger ones, then you probably do not keep it at your writing desk.)
This dictionary is especially useful for writers and editors who, perhaps on tight deadlines, need to check spellings and other general overview information or find out where a river, bay, mountain range, or other natural feature is located.
Many small, obscure locations and features are not included, likely because the publisher had to decide between utility and thoroughness, and utility won. And this utility is, in fact, the strength of this publication. One should not purchase it instead of, but in addition to, an atlas. That's why I consider the functionality of this dictionary to be like a Leatherman tool: it will not do everything, but it's the best single resource of its type.
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Format: Hardcover
It is devoid of color and pretty representations of topography, but it has the best political maps I have ever seen and things like mountains, rivers, plateaus (I never knew there was something called Cockpit Country in Jamaica.), plains, bays, etc., etc., etc. indicated just with words, not artwork. To give the Jamaica example:
the map shows more than 20 cities and towns, plus South Negril Point, Portland Point, South East Point, Montego Bay (of course), Bluefield Bay, Dolphin Head (1,788 ft), Blue Mountain Peak (7,393 ft), the Blue Mts., Dry Harbour Mts, Pedro Plains, Portland Bight, three named rivers and a passel of smaller ones not named on the map, and Jamaica Channel.
There is a very good introduction on map projections, and clear symbols on the maps. 48,000 geographical entities are listed and described. Some no longer exist, but a thumbnail history is given, e.g. Nineveh, Lourenco Marques, now Maputo, the capital of Mozambique. Total of 252 maps, mostly of the countries of the world (with insets to show where the country is located in the world) and the states and provinces of the U.S. and Canada. The map of Japan, where I live, has an inset showing all 47 prefectures, numbered and identified in a list.
The only drawback is that the size of the pages is B5. This makes the maps a little small, but they can always be increased in size with a magnifiying glass or a copy machine (being careful not to violate copyright laws, of course). They have such fine detail that increasing the size, say from B5 to B4, does not blur the details. And being the size of a Webster's Collegiate or maybe a little smaller, it is not exactly something you can balance on your little finger, but you could carry it in a backpack or small LL Bean canvas bag pretty comfortably.
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By A Customer on May 13, 2004
Format: Hardcover
This is an excellent reference book that covers a myriad of geographical locations. The maps are also excellent. I highly recommend this book. A previous reviewer claims that the editors made an egregious mistake by including Slovenia as part of the Balkan states. Maybe that person should do a little research because virtually every resource, including Microsoft Encarta, includes Slovenia in the Balkans. And yes, the Ottomans did conquer Slovenia. The Ottomans had to surrender Slovenia, Hungary, and Croatia to the Hapsburgs in 1699. The editors of this book got it right on the money. As for that reviewer -- a little knowledge is a dangerous thing.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
If you only need a general resource for looking up countries, cities and such, this book will do just fine. If you need specific information about a continent or region, find a more detailed book dedicated to that area. In most cases the lat/long of places was fairly accurate but many of the things I needed to refer to needed a finer coordinate. It also will go out of date fairly qucikly with the fast changing political climates of some areas. Great for stable areas, well developed countries, large to medium cities but not very effective beyond that.
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Format: Hardcover
This is an all-around good reference. It is well organized with readable sized print, and an excellent bargain.
I use it for spelling purposes, clarification (where in the world is that?), population, and solving the odd crossword puzzle and acrostic. I use it far more than I thought I would, and it hasn't failed me yet.
I am writing as an average consumer without specific professional needs in this reference. Judging by the easy format and the understandable structure, I would say I was the type of user the editors had in mind. I believe it would earn its keep on your reference shelf.
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Format: Hardcover
I had been using the 1988 edition without the need to update my library with the Second Edition until last year. Owing to geopolitical changes since 1988, a more recent edition of Webster's New Geographical Dictionary seemed necessary and the Third Edition was the current version available. The Third Edition contains more current background information (e.g. Union of Soviet Socialist Republics), expanded entries (e.g. Palghat), a subtle, easier-to-read font, sidebars, and cleaner maps (e.g. Palestine). That said, if you want more detailed maps or more concise country profiles, you might be better off checking other resource materials such as National Geographic (Magazine maps) and The CIA World Fact Book respectively. Where this boook retains its advantage is that it contains diacritical notation for the proper pronunciation of the place names.
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