Cork University Press, €49 until 31 December, then €59
Published by Cork University Press, the 'Atlas of Cork City' is a tome - in all the best ways. This is a lavishly illustrated coffee table book which, unlike most of that breed, will be regularly looked at, referenced and pored over. With over 60 experts contributing to the 38 chapters and 200 maps and weighing in at almost 500 pages, just collating the book must have been a nightmare for the four editors. But it has paid off. Every time you open the 'Atlas' it's impossible to avoid getting absorbed in the details of an amazing map or evocative picture, fascinating historical fact or topographical point.
The first section places Cork firmly in its geographical setting, with chapters on the Lee Valley, climate and - the bane of Cork's existence - flooding. The three subsequent sections document the physical and cultural development of the city from the medieval city's charters through the Hugenots and the Quakers and beyond, to food, sport, literature and music. Final section, Contemporary Transformations, deals with the city as it is now, with information on industry, Cork Harbour, the Catholic Church and the pubs of Cork.
This is an atlas in the broadest of terms. Chapters on Cork City during the Famine and emigration from Cobh are equally at home as John Spillane's Geography of Song and a piece on The Culture of Food. The wide-ranging texts are complemented with appropriate images, including maps, photographs, archival material, satellite images and artwork.
While marking and commemorating Cork's year as European Capital of Culture, this record of the historical and cultural stories and treasures of the city will last far beyond the events of 2005. The 'Atlas of Cork City' is a wonderful treasury of information, especially for anyone in any way familiar with the city. Well worth investing in.