Sense of place;Secondary;Books;Geography;Subject of the week

26th March 1999 at 00:00
EUROPE IN TRANSITION SERIES. NORTH-RHINE WESTPHALIA. By Steve Frampton, Horst Bronnyand Norbert Jansen;.

CENTRAL SOUTHERN FRANCE. By Steve Burton and Alan Jeanes.

THE YORKSHIRE REGION. By Bob Hordern. Hodder amp; Stoughton pound;8.99 each.

The Europe in Transition series is interesting, but uneven. The idea behind it clearly comes from the concern about a-spatial geography. Certainly, a series based on close study of selected regions could be considered innovative, but the books don't entirely succeed in rehabilitating the regional approach.

Least successful is the Ruhr book, which offers mountains of data without any clear organising principle. It has a curiously drab format, with a multitude of rather murky black-and-white photographs which the authors deploy very optimistically. For one city-centre aerial view, we're invited to note no less than 30 features - in a small picture with tonal values that range from light to grey to black.

The French study almost seems to belong to a different series. In contrast to the uncompromising encyclopaedism of the Ruhr book, it uses quotations and press extracts to illuminate key regional issues, and makes effective use of colour maps and photographs.

Unlike its companions, this title takes care to set its region in a wider national context, and sets out the general layout of the area before plunging into locational detail.

Whereas only the most determined student would persevere with North-Rhine Westphalia, this more readable volume shows how a regional context can bring geographical models and theories to life.

The Yorkshire book lies somewhere between these two - no colour, but a less austere style than the German study. It's unusual to find an account of Yorkshire in which Leeds doesn't make the index, but Hull and Holderness are fully discussed.

A further volume, on North Portugal, is due shortly.

MS

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