This is the most amazing book I've ever owned (and as a die-hard historical fiction and travel book enthusiast, that's saying a lot). The sheer size of the book itself makes it a fantastic coffee table book, and each page is simply dripping with full-color illustrations. First, a little bit of the legal talk: The Travel Book by Lonely Planet was published in September 2005 and contains photos taken from a variety of sources, including many by the Lonely Planet associates themselves. (If you've never checked out this web site you should; it can help supplement the information you will find in the book).
This book contains over 430 pages, most of them covered with illustrations. There are some exciting places in the back that are not actually known as countries, but were still included because of their popularity with travelers. The Travel Book tells you what time of year would be best to travel to each country and includes a little blurb from Lonely Planet's stock-pile of information. There are so many educational possibilities throughout the book, such as each entry includes a word or phrase from the language of each country. I see no reason why this book couldn't be used as a geography teacher's aid!
Every single country throughout the globe is listed in The Travel Book. It is almost more exciting to read about countries that you have probably never heard of, like Vanuatu and Camoros & Mayotte, than more common-place destinations like France and Spain. Just about anything you desire to know about a particular country can be found within the pages. Want to know what the best things are to see and do while in a certain country? You can find it here; each country has a section filled with "Essential Experiences." The best attractions (the things you "just shouldn't visit without doing") are listed, from snorkeling in coral reefs to sunning yourself in the Dead Sea.
The great thing about The Travel Book is that it shows you how to get "in depth" with the countries you're reading about. It tells you what you should eat and drink, what music to listen to, and what movies to watch to give you the full experience. The folks *are* brutally honest and will tell you if a country's national dish is not exactly the finest delicacy you will ever eat. On each double-page spread you will find a huge, strikingly vivid photo, sometimes of a person representing the country they come from, sometimes natural scenery or a famous structure. The people who constructed The Travel Book chose the very best photos to give you a wondrous feel for each country and landmark.
A map at the bottom of each page shows you where in the world each country is situated; many countries I had never heard of, I discovered, were out in the South Pacific or the far reaches of the Caribbean and get very little, if any, news coverage. The section called "Surprises" tells you little-known things you might have never guessed about the country in question. The official language, capital, and population of the area are highlighted on each page.
I would have to say that The Travel Book is probably one of the best, if not *the* best, book I have ever owned. Of course, I've been an armchair (and literal) traveler for a long time, and absolutely love learning anything I possibly can about nearly everywhere in the world. Each new country explored and ethnic group identified makes the world seem a little bit smaller. The Travel Book never left me disappointed; the photos drew me in, and the text and surprising facts kept me there. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who longs to travel or just wants to learn more about the world around them.
Reviewed by Lacie R. Schaeffer