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Atlas of World History [Hardcover]

Patrick K. O'Brien
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)

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Atlas of World History Atlas of World History 3.7 out of 5 stars (3)
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Book Description

Nov. 15 1999
Synthesizing exceptional cartography and impeccable scholarship, the Atlas of World History traces 12,000 years of history with 450 full color maps and over 200,000 words of text. In addition, more than 200 illustrations and tables complement the fascinating chronological narrative written by dozens premiere scholars and edited by Patrick O'Brien, former Director of the Institute of Historical Research at the University of London. Longer essays outline worldwide trends, political developments and military conflicts, highlighting the most significant socio-economic, cultural and religious themes for five pivotal historical periods. What truly distinguishes the Concise Atlas of World History from competitive Eurocentric volumes, is its devotion the rich past of Africa, Asia and the Americas. Cross references and an 8,000 entry index with alternative name forms also permit movement through regions and time periods with the utmost of ease.

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From Library Journal

O'Brien (global history, Univ. of London) headed the international scholars, editors, and cartographers, primarily from Great Britain and the United States, who have produced this handsome overview of world history, from the origins of humanity five million years ago to the present. The scope is truly international rather than reflecting the usual Eurocentric view. The progression of events, politics, and demographics is depicted in 450 easily interpreted color maps, with accompanying texts and illustrations. The atlas contains five topical subdivisions--"The Ancient World," "The Medieval World," "The Early Modern World," "The Age of Revolutions," and "The Twentieth Century"--with a final section featuring a multicultural time line; 600 encyclopedic entries for significant events, people, and places; a classified bibliography; and an extensive index--all fully cross-referenced. The Rand McNally Atlas of World History (1995) and the National Geographic Atlas of World History (1997) are less expensive but not as comprehensive. Recommended for all public and academic libraries.
-Edward K. Werner, St. Lucie Cty. Lib. Sys., Ft. Pierce, FL
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

Covering events from approximately five million years ago to 1999, Atlas of World History is a serious competitor to the established Times Atlas of World History, which was last updated in 1994 [RBB My 15 94]. General editor O'Brien (Institute of Historical Research, University of London) claims in the foreword that "more than 20 years have passed since a major new atlas of this kind was published in the English language," referring no doubt to the first appearance of the Times Atlas. This statement is subject to debate in light of the 1998 publication of Sharpe's Complete Atlas of World History [RBB Ap 1 98], though at three volumes the Sharpe atlas can hardly be considered a handy source. Still, general historical atlases are few and far between, and the Oxford Atlas represents a welcome addition to this sparse field.

Originally published in Great Britain earlier last year as Philip's Atlas of World History (to which it is still referred in the foreword), Atlas of World History has editors and contributors primarily based in educational institutions in the United Kingdom. The volume is divided into five main chronological sections, from "The Ancient World" to "The Twentieth Century." Each of these sections contains numerous two-page spreads featuring maps and accompanying essays. Following the maps are a 24-page "Timechart," a 32-page section called "Events, People and Places" that features brief entries on major subjects within the maps, a 24-page index, and a 4-page bibliography. With just over 440 maps, the Oxford atlas contains fewer maps than Times (at 600) though offsets this with lucid essays that are often longer than similar essays in Times. On the other hand, maps in Times tend to be larger.

Among other differences, Times generally features more colorful maps replete with arrows virtually everywhere indicating social, political, and cultural movements. Oxford maps are a bit more traditional in nature, and although similar movement is certainly shown, it tends not to be depicted as often or with as much dramatic flair. Whether one atlas is "better" than the other is more a matter of personal choice.

One area where Oxford definitively beats Times is in indexing. Oxford's concluding "Events, People and Places" appendix lists page numbers that link topics and maps, something sorely lacking in Times' similar "Glossary." A user trying to find maps depicting the movement of Christianity in Times will be frustrated; although Christianity is defined in its glossary, there are no map references, and the term isn't even listed in its index. In Oxford, the reader is treated to a brief definition with a listing of seven separate references and an even more detailed breakdown in the index. Oxford is also more up-to-date and includes a map showing the breakup of the Soviet Union, an omission RBB noted in the most recent Times.

Because no single work can show all the maps needed by a patron for a given time period, public, high-school, and academic libraries can never have enough historical atlases. At a price lower than Times, Oxford's Atlas of World History is a well-written, well-illustrated work that has successfully doubled the number of "must have" general historical atlases that most libraries should own.


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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I Rate and Compare World History Atlas Books May 16 2004
Format:Hardcover
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.
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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 1.28" ranked 10,716 on Amazon.com.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Historical overview with maps and relevant text April 5 2000
Format:Hardcover
The Oxford Atlas of World History was purchased for a High School library collection, but would serve as a wonderful historical reference for any personal collection. The maps are clear and the text is lucid. Not only does the Atlas provide the requisite information on ancient civilizations, it also provides data on changing populations, health trends, particulars on the status of women, etc. The Timechart is very helpful, delineating, as it does, what was happening when on different continents and in the areas of science/technology and arts/humanities. An up-to-date book such as this which provides an overview of history in a pictorial format, at an affordable price, is a valuable resource for both library and personal collections. It allows the reader to follow historical trends, understand boundary disputes, track the course of wars and revolutions and follow along on voyages of discovery. Charts and illustrations support the text. Portraits or photographs of important individuals, places and works of art or architecture help the reader visualize people and places. I highly recommend this Atlas.
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent but see below Sept. 21 2002
Format:Hardcover
This atlas is great for looking up those events, both momentous and not-so-momentous, to get a quick grasp and overview of the situation without getting bogged down in some more detailed and ponderous history. If it weren't for John Haywood's Atlas of World History, I would say it's possibly the best one out there in relation to features and price. However, I have a preference for the Haywood volume because I found his writing style more interesting, not to mention the fact that his book is less than half the price of O'Brien's volume. While I would not wish to base a decision just on price, I would point out that I preferred either of these two books to the Hammond atlas, which is even more expensive, and the Times atlas, at almost twice the cost, and the Dorling-Kindersley, which, although a superb atlas, is still 20% higher.
While I'm at it, I'd like to say something about O'Brien's Atlas of World History, published by Philips. I mention it here since no matter how I search, I can't find this atlas listed anywhere, but this is a really superb atlas, and I think exceeds even the present volume in terms of quality and features. So if you can find this one, I'd also pick up a copy. Because it's so good, I'd also like to discuss it here.
All the of the big 5 or 6 major atlases out there have their strengths and weaknesses, and their pros and cons, I've discovered, and this one is no different. This one has one terrific feature that's worth mentioning specifically.
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