America has never looked better…

The USA Book: A Journey Through America by Carla Zimmerman

Last year a copy of the compact version of Lonely Planet’s The Travel Book came into my hands and it was a fascinating but brief tour around the world. (See my write-up here.)

That small sized book was a lavish 900 page brick, so when offered the full size version of one of their latest titles – The USA Book, I couldn’t resist. This coffee table paving slab is a photographic delight – leave it out and it’ll get flicked through by all who pass. They’ve brought out companion volumes for Asia, Europe and Cities too.

It aims to capture the essence of each of the states of the union in just four pages. Three out of the four comprise beautiful photos, and not necessarily the images you’d expect – this is a Lonely Planet publication after all. Images of tourist icons are few and far between, or are not taken from the usual angles; instead the diversity of the American peoples and their lives are celebrated in glorious technicolour.

The photos are backed up by keynotes for each state – a few stats and key facts, the main events and sights, culinary highlights, and a nice section on representations in books, film etc. There are shorter entries on US territories, some general sections on sports, culture etc and nice set of features on classic drives through the USA too. The photos are very much the main thing with the accompanying text providing tasters for further research.

A gazeteer would have been useful, but other than that my only quibble is that each and every state is so beautifully presented that it would be impossible to even start to choose where to go based on this book – I’m glad to be an armchair traveller at the moment!

(8/10, Book supplied by the Amazon Vine programme.)

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