The Greatest Buildings and Structures
The Greatest Buildings and Structures
The Eiffel Tower in Paris, France is 1,063 feet (324 m) tall. An engineer named Gustave Eiffel designed and built the tower between 1887 and 1889. It took just two years, two months, and five days to complete the huge structure that is now considered a symbol of France.
The Eiffel Tower was originally designed for the 1889 World’s Fair to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the French Revolution. It was only supposed to be there for 20 years, but it was saved and used for experiments involving communication and radio. Since then, it has been regularly improved and changed to become the most popular tourist attraction in France.
The “Ideas, Inventions, and Innovators” series, comprised of four titles, offers readers basic, limited information about achievements in a variety of areas. Each title begins with a very brief introduction followed by a page on which there are 12 photographs relating to the featured topic with a question printed beneath each one. Though the premise of the series is sound, there are several flaws. Firstly, some of the selections are questionable (one wonders what the criteria were for inclusion in this series), and there are many omissions. For instance, in the title about science and arts, there are no composers or musicians (though singer Nina Simone is included because of her affiliation with the civil rights movement; is she more deserving of inclusion than, say, Beethoven or Mozart?). Some of the information is not clear. For example, the author states that the Great Wall tells people about ancient Chinese culture (how?) and that Louis XIV’s decision to move his court from Paris to Versailles gave him “more control over the government and his nobles”. To understand this assertion fully requires prior knowledge or further study on the part of the reader. Occasionally, the sequence of information is ‘off”. In the chapter about Abraham Lincoln in the title about politics and activism, for instance, on the left hand page there is a photo of soldiers awaiting treatment after a Civil War battle, but the Civil War, itself, is not explained until the right hand page. There are also missing details, one of them being the lack of explanation about the symbolism in the design and colours of the new South African flag which “was to signal a new democracy in South Africa and the end of apartheid”. Lastly, there is an inconsistency in the style of the text: some paragraphs consist of short, cropped sentences, suited to a much younger audience, while others are made up of more complex sentences and vocabulary tailored to the target audience. An attractive layout and colour illustrations (photographs, drawings and info-graphics) add visual appeal and enhance the text, but the thick-lined graphics superimposed on other illustrations or filling up white space are superfluous and clutter the page. A table of contents, a glossary and an index are provided along with a brief list of books and websites for further investigation of the topics.
The Greatest Buildings and Structures highlights buildings, bridges, towers and other structures from all over the globe. Beginning with Stonehenge, the book also features the Great Pyramid, the Great Wall of China, Rome’s Colosseum, the Tower of London, the Palace of Versailles, La Sagrada Familia in Spain, the Eiffel Tower, the Empire State Building, the Golden Gate bridge, the Sydney Opera House and Burj Khalifa which is currently the world’s tallest building (but soon to be stripped of its title when another tower in Saudi Arabia is completed). This book provides information about the designers, architects and builders of each of the structures as well as details with respect to size, building materials, building use and special features.
Gail Hamilton is a former teacher-librarian in Winnipeg, Manitoba.