People Around the World
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Here is a book designed to celebrate the diversity of humankind. Continent by continent and country by country, Mason shows us the people who live there - what they look like, what sort of lives they lead, what sort of habitat they have and, to judge by the number of happy smiling teeth in the plentiful pictures, how happy they are to be who they are. While Mason tries hard to be objective in his information, the book cannot help but be a giant tourist brochure for planet earth. Spotless national costumes, flawless complexions, idyllic land- and sea-scapes, picturesque vernacular pursuits draw the eye on every spread and it's only when you find the very useful statistical tables, that the real picture of people around the world emerges. Here we discover that the life expectancy for Malawian women is only 46, that 334 people inhabit each square kilometer in Belgium and in East Timor the adult literacy rate is 15%. So, if, like he who wrote Treasure Island, you believe that 'the world is so full of such wonderful things, I think we should all be as happy as kings', this is the book for you. However, although it reminds me too much of the Empire Youth Annual of my childhood to convince me of its usefulness, no Martian should leave home without a copy. Oh, and to get back to the happy smiling teeth, is it a coincidence that there is a popular brand of herbal dentifrice called - guess what - Kingfisher?