Book Review 2008 #45: Atlas of Lost Cities

Next up on the book review front, The Atlas of Lost Cities by Brenda Rosen


Brenda Rosen’s Atlas of Lost Cities is not so much an atlas (although there are definitely maps and diagrams) as much as its a guidebook to lost cities. Cities are born, grow and die, and some are lost, to one degree or another.
The Atlas of Lost Cities takes on a number of these lost cities. The entries are arranged thematically in a slightly idiosyncratic fashion. Rather than by geography or age, the cities are arranged by theme. Thus, for example, we have “Cities of the Sea”, cities which were lost to the sea (or lost one way or another their sea connection) which includes Akrotiti, Dunwich and Mahabalipuram. “Cities hidden by mists and mountains” gives us entries on Petra, Machu Picchu and Pompeii.
I was a bit annoyed by this layout, which makes it less than useful in trying to find an individual city. There is no index of just the cities, either. So, finding Technochtitlan, for example is a bit of a challenge. Is it under Cities of Hills and Mountains? Cities of Kings? No, its under Cities of the Hills and Plains.
With these criticisms aside, the individual entries, ranging from one to two pages, are brief, but adorned with beautiful photography and diagrams of many of the cities. Each of the themes has a frontispiece section about the theme, sometimes briefly mentioning cities not given full entries, or about mythical cities on the theme.
Even if the individual entries are a bit short IMO, and the layout could have been better, the collection together is an interesting and well thought out group of cities. It’s an enjoyable book to flip through, and randomly learn a bit about places familiar and unfamiliar, like Pelaque, or Nineveh, or Vineta.
My gaming friends might like this book for ideas for lost civilizations and other exotic locales for pulp games and the like.