Yes, many of the photographs are spectacular. But the beautifully reproduced pictures aside, HOTSPOTS is an excellent example of how not to produce a tome designed to further the cause of conservation and ecological awareness. The bigger the book of this type (and HOTSPOTS is a very big book indeed), the more important variation in layout becomes, so that the eye will not become bored. In HOTSPOTS, full-page photographs alternate relentlessly with double-page spreads of interminably dry text better suited to an article in Nature or Scientific American than a coffee-table book intended for the general public. Even the Bulletin of the OTS (Organization for Tropical Studies) is livelier. Herein, endless lists and quoted statistics are interrupted only by the occasional attempt to actually interest the general reader in what is being said. The most accessible prose in the book is the foreword by Harrison Ford, and the publishers don't even have enough sense to put his name on the cover, where it might help to sell a few copies. Do I detect thereby a whiff of scientific snobbery? Attempting to plow through the unbearably monotonous text that only succeeds in rendering fascinating and vitally important information dull as dishwater, one has the impression of a group of scientists dedicated not to furthering the cause of conservation so much as effusively stating their own priorities. Only a few of the included maps are rendered with an eye (pun intended) toward enlightening the reader. In many, color separations are insufficiently boldly conceived and rendered, with the result that their interpretation becomes muddled. The book contains no explicatory drawings, diagrams, or other art work. These would not only serve to make the points lost in the text understandable, but would make the book far more pleasing to look at. Some of the most interesting photographs are set in the margins of the plodding text...and reproduced there so minutely as to render them virtually unviewable. Except for a few pages at the end of each section, there is no middle ground...photos are either full or double-page spread, or absurdly (for a book this size) tiny. More photographs, of varying size, should have been used in place of the monumentally dull text. The entire project cries out for the hand of a good designer. People will buy HOTSPOTS for the photographs or not at all because the text is, for the general public, virtually unreadable. What a shame and a disappointment. As an example of what might have been, I recommend THE LAST RAINFORESTS (Oxford; ed. Collins), MANU (Francis Patthey; MacQuarrie) and one of the most informative and best laid out of this type of volume, JUNGLES (Crown; Ayensu). Next time, they should let Harrison Ford write the whole book.