Book: Great World Wonders
The restrictions that came with the Covid pandemic have forced the travel blog community almost to a standstill. Most bloggers fell silent altogether, some started writing about places in their immediate surroundings (“20 Fun Things to do in Utrecht”), others have used the focus time for writing a book. One of the latter is Australian Michael Turtle, who is active in this WH community as well (currently ranked #96). He has just published a book called: Great World Wonders: 100 Remarkable World Heritage Sites.
How it looks
I bought the hardcover version, which at 282 pages and a 26x20cm size felt like receiving a brick of stone when delivered.
The 100 featured WHS are grouped by themes, which are somewhere in between our categories and connections. They include for example “Homes of the rich and famous”, "Science and Technology" and “At the movies”.
Each selected WHS has its own 2 pages of dedicated content: a textual description of about 400 words, accompanied by 3 to 5 photos. These introductions are mostly of a generic kind and rarely refer to the author’s experiences at the site. A cross-reference between the 100 WHS and his visited list on this website reveals that he hasn't visited all of them (he also doesn't claim he has: the focus is on the WHS, not on the author).
Furthermore, sections are included that highlight additional sites and put them into perspective related to a certain topic. I did recognize some of our connections in there (Role of women, Used in film as another WHS).
Pros and cons of the book
The book’s main strength from a WH traveler’s perspective is its solid portrayal of the rules and politics behind the WHS. These are explained in layman’s terms, without resorting to the UNESCO/WHC lingo. For example the use of “ordinary houses” instead of “vernacular architecture”. In fact, all texts are very crisp.
The thematic approach also does the subject a favor, as it shows the breadth of tangible sites that can become a WHS. Next to a lot of the obvious ones, Bikini Atoll, Fray Bentos, and Sulaiman-Too are among the wonders put into the spotlight.
Not so much a con, but more a missed opportunity is the photography. By looking at his website, Michael is an excellent photographer. However, a couple of photos in the book look dim or over photoshopped (resulting in unnatural coloring). Also, he has used a fair amount of stock photos.
The biggest con for me, however, as a more advanced WH adept, is the superficiality of the introductions of the individual WHS. Sometimes that crisp expert voice pops up again, but not often enough to make me finish reading the book.
Who would like it
I’d recommend the book for budding WH enthusiasts: have you just started counting your visited WHS and now wonder what it is all about? Or do you have a nephew or friend who has heard you talking about your WHS travels and would like to know more? This book will give them a solid quick start on the subject. My own interest in WHS started from a book like this, as it opens up a world of wonders to go and explore. Readers who are already well-versed in the topic will find little that they did not know already from reading worldheritagesite.org.
Els - 7 November 2021
Kyle Magnuson 7 November 2021
Based on the Amazon page index there was concerted effort to limit each country to a handful of featured sites. I like the wide representation of world heritage sites and the categories are interesting.
- Monticello (Homes of the Rich and Famous)
- Statue of Liberty (State of the Arts)
- Independence Hall (Who, When, Where?)
- The Grand Canyon (The Natural World)
- Forbidden City (Homes of the Rich and Famous)
- Hongcun (At the Movies)
- Temple, Cemetery, and Mansion of Confucius (Who, When, Where?)
- The Great Wall (Science and Technology)
Jay T 7 November 2021
Good for Michael; that's a great way to have spent the pandemic! I appreciate lists, so I'm curious to see what made the list for his 100 remarkable sites.
Els Slots 7 November 2021
No logos indeed. In the text he does refer to the sites as UNESCO world heritage sites.
Solivagant 7 November 2021
I note that the title doesn't say "UNESCO World Heritage Sites!!
Solivagant 7 November 2021
Is there a UNESCO logo displayed anywhere in the book and/or some kind of disclaimer???
As you once discovered, UNESCO are infamous for
a. Guarding their copyright
b. Only doing deals with the largest companies!!