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 1.28" ranked 10,716 on Amazon.com. My last place book seems like a giant comic book. I love the DK travel books but this seems like one step beyond DK's area of expertise. Superficially it is similar to the Oxford book and it is cheap, and some might like it but it tries to be politically correct and fails.
6. Oxford Dictionary of World History, Oxford University Press, 704 pages, $7,66, pocketbook sized, sales rank 330,000. Mainly terms, people, and dates but has a few maps also. Limited use but an excellent alternative. I prefer the new Penguin book, but as a dictionary this is the book to buy.
Jack in Toronto