Life Magazine - Life Wonders of the World: 50 Must-see Natural and Man-made Marvels

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Life Magazine’s take on the wonders of the world

Dec 13, 2009 (Updated Dec 14, 2009)
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Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:Beautiful photographs, easy and interesting reading, seven removable vintage photographs good for framing.

Cons:As always, you can criticize the selection.

The Bottom Line:

The photographs, the easy and interesting reading, and the nice hard bound format make this book a good choice for the coffee table.


I bought this book at Barnes and Noble some time ago primarily because of the amazing photographs in the book. However, I was also positively surprised by the selection. The selection was not perfect but unexpectedly well informed in my opinion. It is also a big nice hard cover book that looks nice in your book shelf.


Content of the book and my opinion on the selections

The book begins with an introduction that describes some background, building and history to some of the modern wonders of the world as well some vintage photos. The end of the book features seven removable vintage photos which are good for framing. If you remove a removable photo from a page a copy of it will remain underneath. What exist between the two ends are the wonders of the world.

The book begin by listing and describing the 7 original wonder of the world which are (you should know these).

The Great Pyramid of Khufu (the largest of the Egyptian pyramids)
The Hanging Garden of Babylon (they may never have existed)
The Colossus of Rhodes (today there are only bronze deer standing on pillars to mark the position of the feet)
The statue of Zeus at Olympia
The Mausoleum at Halicarnassus
The Temple of Artemis at Ephesus
The Pharos of Alexandria


Next it lists and describes the new 7 wonders. This list is based on an on-line contest held in 2007. I don't know exactly how the wonders were chosen, however, in my opinion allowing the general public to vote on such matters is not going to yield very good results. First of all the people voting will not have personally seen every contending wonder of the world, and most people will not know much about them. In addition they will be biased towards what they themselves have seen and know something about. I am far from an expert on the field, however, I have traveled a few continents, 28 countries and I've seen a few things around the world, and I consider myself well read, but I feel very unqualified to make a list like this. I expect the average voter to be even less qualified for this task. Looking at the final result I cannot say that I agree. I definitely have a number of issues with each list. However, it is not as much of a disaster either as I would expect.

The statue of Jesus on top of Rio de Janeiro's stunning Corcovado Mountain
The Great Wall of China
Chichen Itza, Mexico
The Taj Mahal
The ancient city of Petra
Machu Pichu
The Colosseum

Next they list the 7 Amazing Runners Up

Easter Island
Ankor Wat
The Acropolis
The Potala Palace, Tibet
The Vatican
The Terra Cotta Army, China
Stonehenge

Personally I don't understand why the Colosseum is on the new Seven Wonders of the World list, or why Stonehenge was on the 7 Amazing runners up list. Neither do I understand why the Great Pyramid of Khufu could not also be on the 7 new Seven Wonders of the World list, or why the Potala Palace did not make it to the top seven (among these 14). What about the Forbidden City, Petrodvorest, Persepolis, or Masada? However, at least the list does not seem outrageous.


Following the 7 runners up is a list of 14 modern Wonders of the World

The Eiffel Tower
The Three Gorges Dam
The Sydney Opera House
Biosphere2 in Arizona
The Empire State Building
Burj Dubai
The Hubble Telescope
The Golden Gate Bridge
The Channel Tunnel
The International Space Station
The North Sea Protection Works
Mount Rushmore
The Millau Viaduct
The National Stadium, China

Again I feel that the world largest machine the enormous Large Hadron Collider at CERN should have been on the list if the Hubble Telescope and the International Space Station is. I also think that world largest and most elaborate palace, the Palace of the Parliament in Bucharest is sorely missing as well as the Panama Canal. However, I don't find the selection entirely odd.


The last part of the book lists 14+1 Natural Wonders of the World.

The Galapagos Islands
Loch Ness
Serengeti
The Grand Canyon
Deep Sea Vents
The Rock of Gibraltar
Mount Everest
The Amazon
Lake Baikal
Victoria Falls
Yellowstone
The Great Barrier Reef
Mount Fuji
Angel Falls, Venezuela
Aurora Borealis

Personally I feel that the Dead Sea, Surtsey, the new born island, Mauna Kea, Ayers Rock (Australia), and the beautiful mountains of Patagonia seem to be missing. I also find the inclusion of Loch Ness curious. There are thousands of strange, amazing, and extraordinarily beautiful lakes around the world, many of them allegedly harboring mythical beasts. I can also think of many amazing rocks, active volcanoes, snow white deserts, and beautiful mountains and strange landscapes which equally could have been selected. I also think that meteor showers should have been included. Check out the one going tonight for example. Just go outside.

In summary I give the selection three stars.


Opinion about other aspects of the book

Each entry features a few pages with large beautiful and amazing color photographs and a description of the item and its features, location and history. This is, for the most part, quite interesting reading. Life magazine are somewhat sensationalist in their approach to anything, however, they provide exceptional photographs and know how to make the subject interesting. The eye catching photographs, the easy reading, the fact that the book is large and hard bound makes it a good item for a coffee table.


Final recommendation

The format, the photographs, and the interesting facts make this book worthwhile despite the fact that I cannot totally agree with the choices. You can probably come up with your own list of amazing wonders that you would rather see on this list. The way I suggest that you read this book is that you don't expect the selections to be exceptionally well researched or well weighed. Instead you should assume that this is a subjective assessment done by Life Magazine. This book is mostly entertainment not primarily education. As such I give it four stars.


Recommend this product? Yes

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