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National Geographic Magazine is an eye opening and educational journal. It features in depth articles about places, people and situations around the world. To me, the magazine can't be surpassed for the quality of it's photography as well as the intelligence of the writing.
I first discovered National Geographic when I was a teenager and it basically served as an educational tool, introducing me to a planet I wasn't aware really existed around me. Initially I found the photography fascinating and this pulled me into trying to read the lengthy articles whose high brow terminology was often lost on me. The stories in the magazine are unexpected and often focus on small groups in society, people and ventures that we ordinarily hear nothing about. The writers and photographers also venture into every last corner of the Earth to report back to readers.
Some of the photos featured in National Geographic are stunning and they basically are shot to look like works of fine art, not raw snapshots of life. I often find that the writers tend to be oversentimental or dramatic in their storytelling though which can sometimes create a strange void between a sense of fiction and reality. What I mean is the way that real life is photographed and written about in the magazine often makes things sound 'unreal', like glossy fairytales.
What I love about National Geographic, though, is the detail of the work in the magazine. They often provide detailed pull out maps of areas they are discussing which I find invaluable for learning. They also usually create a personal aspect to each article, making sure we know something about the characters and lifestyle choices of the people they encounter along the way. It's a fascinating insight into human behaviour across cultures.
I would absolutely recommend this magazine especially to those who have pre teenage or teenage children although I do feel that a bit of the exclusivity of the magazine has been lost due to the fact that the Internet can offer us similar visual and emotional experiences now. However, I'd still praise the magazine for it's dedication to revealing the world around us through beautiful photography and superb writing. It's an incredibly powerful educational tool as well as offering a sense of freedom to anyone who picks up a copy and falls under it's spell.
From what I remember being told, National Geographic has run as a 'journal' (now more of a 'magazine') for over 120 years. That's absolutely incredible, but I think what's more incredible is that its longevity is absolutely justified. It has endured because it is so great.
I've been receiving National Geographic intermittently since I was a child, and whilst as a kid I wasn't able to appreciate the intellectual articles, National Geographic (or NatGeo as people refer it to these days) has probably among the most accomplished photographers in the world working for them. It was the contents of National Geographic I saw as a kid that inspired me to pursue photography as a hobby right up to now, in my adulthood. The photo features of the magazine - be it wildlife, space, human endeavours - are always breathtakingly beautiful.
National Geographic has developed into something of a phenomenon, in the sense that there is now (several, I believe) television channels, a great website, the print magazine and a YouTube channel - to name a few. You can imagine the excitement in my home when we found out that Snapchat had introduced a National Geographic 'button'. The magazine still prevails over all of this, though - it is blatantly clear that everyone working for the magazine loves their job, and is humbled by their opportunities to show and tell the big wide world to us normal people.
On an intellectual level the National Geographic articles are entertaining at worst and utterly compelling at best. Coupled with the size of the magazine, its monthly schedule (we got subscription for £19 a year, and have done for maybe 5-6 years now) and its incredible pictures - not to mention other media - NatGeo has become something of an institution in our home. I think what is especially nice is knowing that, like my old NatGeo magazines, current editions will be kept to read long into the future. My kids, like me as a child, are only really interested in seeing the pictures, but hopefully, like me, they'll come to enjoy how engrossing the magazine's journalism can be. Stop reading this review and get yourself a subscription. I can practically guarantee you will love it.
National geographic is now an international brand. There are toys, a tv channel, clothes and, of course, the magazine. Or should I say magazineS as there are several including a kids version and a specialist 'traveller' one too. This review is about the original publication.
**About the magazine**
National Geographic is an American magazine. It features stories on topics that can loosely be called 'geography', so lots of features about wildlife, the environment, science but also many people centred stories about how people live around the globe. The May edition had features on the Grand Canals of China, Zimbabwe and how/why human life expectancy has increased. Regular features include readers photo's/letters, a historic photo and the editors note. Whilst the articles are not impenetrable, nor are they light weight. You will be both educated and entertained.
National Geographic is distinguished by it's fabulous photography. Each article is accompanied by astonishing shots as well as superb visual diagrams. Most editions feature some sort of pull out section to fit in a panorama or particularly interesting map/diagram. It's a feast for the eyes as well as the brain.
** Who this will appeal to**
I first purchased a copy as it seemed like a magazine that both my partner and I could enjoy. The human interest articles (declining birth rate in Brazil, Aboriginal communities in Australia) appeal most to me whilst the wild life appeals more to him. You can read cover to cover or you can dip in and out as the articles don't date quickly. In fact, I recently sold 6 old copies dating back to 2006 for £2 at a car boot sale! In terms of age, even quite young children can enjoy the pictures. The occasional article may be unsuitable for some primary schoolers but it could be worth seeing if your child is interested in this rather than the 'kids' version, then the whole family can share.
**Where and how to buy**
You can buy National Geographic at most newsagents. It is a global publication, published once per month, so you will see it around the world, especially in airports. One copy retails at about £5. For many years I picked up the odd edition, thought the price was a tad high but ok as an occasional purchase as I really enjoyed it. If you want to sample the magazine, this is a good way to do it. However, I was amazed when a flyer fell out of an edition advertising a subscription (12 editions over a year) at £15. I couldn't quite believe it but a check on line confirmed this and I was lucky enough to get this subscription as a birthday gift from my partner.
So, a little more about the subscription. As mentioned above, this was a gift from my partner. He ordered in March and the first edition I received was May's delivered in April. In the interim period a postcard came through confirming the order (so my present was revealed!!), then a free map and eventually a free fleece. Then the magazine - which was all I really wanted! So, in short, the subscription process is convoluted, however, the magazine is well worth the wait at this vastly reduced price.
For me National geographic is a five star publication with a four star subscription process. Don't let this put you off though - it could be the best £15 you will spend this year.