Friday, 16 December 2016

The Manmade World: How our world works in maps and infographics (Mapographica) by Jon Richards and Ed Simkins

Book review: I was preparing myself to be underwhelmed by this book. However, I was pleasantly surprised and found it interesting. It contains maps of the world showing "infographics" for:

* People and Energy
* A Moving World
* Trade
* Palm Oil
* Oil
* Water Access
* Growing Food
* Global Emissions and Population
* Tallest Buildings
* On the Line
* Internet Access
* Money
* Space Launches

It was interesting. For example, there was a map of the world at night, with lights marking urban areas, dark areas being more rural locations or poorer places. It was particularly interesting to see lights follow the river Nile in Egypt. Plus there is at least one country in the world that has opium as its highest value export. 

However, there are things I feel could improve the book too. It is short at 32 pages long, so could be longer. I wasn't sure on why all the categories included in this book were chosen. For instance, Palm Oil. Maybe I'm being ignorant here, as there is a message in the book that talks about the deforestation caused to make way for new palm oil plantations, but surely there could be better topics with available statistics to cover. Also, it would have been good if all the statistics were sourced so the data could be sought out. This is because the stats will quickly get out of date (there are fast-moving topics here like smartphone usage) and also it would allow other countries to be compared in the data because typically just the top and bottom 10 are given for the subject. This approach doesn't always allow comparisons to be made for the UK but is good for countries like USA and China that often feature in the top 2 of a topic. And an interactive version of this book would be better, so you could hover over your country of interest to find out the equivalent information, maybe with the ability to link to the data source so you can be sure you are using the latest info.

But I still found the book interesting, and it would suit readers who prefer to read in bite-size chunks, like reluctant, young readers. Plus it can be used to introduce topics that can then be researched via Wikipedia and the like.

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