Off the shelf
The new edition of this comprehensive A-level textbook is an invaluable reference for the committed and able A-level student who is seeking a single-volume companion. The authors are experienced teachers who skilfully compile meaty segments, topped and tailed with reinforcement and extension questions.
The book is strong on providing theoretical underpinnings to most important areas of the geography syllabus and though its case-studies mostly lack the colour which individual human focus and viewpoint would provide, they thoroughly explore issues and key topics. Brazil, China, the UK and North America are featured.
The approach used here is well suited to bring high student grades in the current mode of A-level examinations.
ACCESS TO GEOGRAPHY SERIES
Arid and Semi-Arid Environments. By Michael Hill. Climate and Society. By Garrett Nagle. Health and Welfare. By Janette Lloyd. Hodder amp; Stoughton pound;6.99 each
The first trio of this new series of books in a handy A5 format are interestingly (and ambitiously) targeted at both the student and the general reader. They are in the tradition of the helpful single-topic booklets that supplemented the 16-19 Project Geography A-level examination of the 1980s, but are fuller in scope, with 130 to 150 pages.
Michael Hill's and Garrett Nagle's texts are in a readably discursive style and illustrated with up-to-date case-studies. Janette Lloyd's is more study-oriented but an excellent and thorough coverage of the modern geography of life and death.
If future titles keep up this standard, the series will become widely-used as in-depth supplementary material to central A-level texts.
GEOGRAPHY FOR A2. By Clive Hart et al. Cambridge University Press pound;16.50
This is the ultimate in specially tailored texts, written for the synoptic module on People and environment of the OCR A-2 examination (Specification A), with the benefit of the principal examiner as a contributor and the front-cover "endorsement" of the examination board. Despite "suggestions for further reading", this is clearly the book for the course - with all the advantages (and wider educational limitations?) that such a role entails. There is no denying its quality, however.
The contemporary case-studies have related assignments and essay questions; the four major sections are written by an experienced and well-known team and cover the major topics of the module; there are sections on geographical aspects of the European Union (Michael Raw); managing urban environments (Alisdair Rogers); managing rural environments (Kevin Stannard); and hazardous environments (Jane Dove).
All of them are written in an accessible and authoritative style and complemented by clear maps and presentation.
ESSENTIAL MAPWORK SKILLS. By Simon Ross. Nelson Thornes pound;9.50
"A map is the earth in the palm of your hand" the aviatrix Beryl Markham once said, and the handy size of this well-produced new volume gives practical reinforcement to that dictum. There are 32 map extracts, half from Britain (useful for both GCSE and A-level work) and this reasonably priced book also includes satellite, aerial and ground photographs for interpretation. It is particularly strong in the comprehensive and stimulating activities suggested for each section.
However, Simon Ross's accompanying case-studies are based on providing coverage of academic geographical topics rather than a full spread of map-types.
The preface offers help on techniques used in map representation and interpretation and other aspects of graphicacy, but nothing which might stir the student imagination about the basic elegance and aesthetic of maps, their forms of language or their wider uses.
Rex Walford is a Fellow of Wolfson College, Cambridge and the author of Geography in British Schools, 1850-2000 (Woburn Press)