This second edition of the Atlas of the Irish Rural Landscape is much more than a reprint of the 1997 original. The editors explain that the text has been revamped and expanded (including five new case studies) and that more than 500 maps and photos have been added. The results are spectacular. There is extraordinary detail within these pages and readers will learn everything they could ever hope to know about the impact of nine millennia of human activity on the Irish landscape: a landscape that reveals the process of 'history in slow motion'.
The Atlas of the Irish Rural Landscape provides excellent overviews: from the forts and tombs of ancient Ireland, through the bustling ecclesiastical landscape of the medieval era, to the tribulations and triumphs of the modern age (British colonialism, famine and, in recent memory the island's economic boom times). The books greatest joy is that, while scholarly, it's highly readable and very pretty. The maps and pictures are wonderful and the sections that deal with specific phenomena (fields and forests, housing and mines, transport routes, energy supplies and much besides are exemplary.
Ireland is changing, not least because the population is now far more urbanised than anyone could have predicted a century ago. But, as this book demonstrates wonderfully, it's landscape has been in flux for thousands of years.
This is one of the most accessible and engaging books you're ever likely to read about Ireland, which isn't something that can often be said of an atlas.
Jonathan Wright Geographical (Magazine of the Royal Geographical Magazine) April 2012