And consequently, so is the 12-pound, 560 page Oxford Atlas of the World. This was another of amazon’s 70%-off Boxing Day specials; I can’t believe I got something so monolithic for a mere $60. It almost doesn’t seem right. It’s the deluxe edition, no less, with the sturdy slipcase, and a 6-month subscription to Oxford Reference Online. I am in awe.
It may seem strange to get so excited by an atlas but I’ve always loved looking at maps, air photos, and satellite photos. Throw a depiction of the earth’s surface at me and I’m happy. Well, unless it was printed before the fall of the Berlin Wall, as was my old Britannica atlas. It was long past time for an upgrade. As an added bonus, amazon also had the Oxford Satellite Atlas of the World on sale (not received yet but, like it or not, you’ll probably hear about it when it gets here).
As for the maps, they are very readable, with larger type and simpler contouring than my old Britannica atlas. The downside of this is that in particularly crowded areas, namely Europe and parts of Asia, it has fewer place names than the Britannica. Of course that is assuming that the tiny villages depicted in the Britannica are still there, which is a big assumption after 20 years of continued urban migration. The Oxford is nothing if not up-to-date, and will be revised every year.
Of course there are debates about which atlas is best. National Geographic has extremely detailed U.S. maps, but most of the comparative reviews I’ve read pick Oxford for world coverage (including good North American coverage). If I wanted complete coverage, however, I would go for the OED of atlases, the Times Comprehensive Atlas of the World. Unfortunately the price tag is too steep for mere recreational use, but I’ll be keeping my eyes open next Boxing Day.
Now. Where am I going to put this thing??