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Gardners' Art Through the Ages: The Western Perspective is a fabulous, comprehensive tour through the worldís greatest artistic traditions. I actually used it for a required Art History class - but dare I say that I actually truly enjoyed it?! This book even made the course seem easier, since it was so comprehensive and actually really descriptive and well-written. It provides a picturesque backdrop for each period and location, so you can really immerse yourself in the knowledge and the art. It even includes a unique scale feature that lets you see the artworks in their "true" size. Each chapter also features an overview, timeline, and ending section that kind of highlights the main points, which allows you to understand the cultural and historical forces that influence each piece of art.
The CourseMate access card with this book is absolutely irreplaceable - seriously. It lets you enter search terms keywords to find answers to quizzes, questions, whatever (opposed to skimming the text aimlessly, while searching for an off the wall reference to something). Whatever you are looking for, it just gives a greater insight to, and lets you feel like you are learning more at your own pace. Perfect!
If a book can make a REQUIRED class seem fun and educational, I guarantee it is well worth the buy! It really did allow me a new appreciation toward art history - as well as various artists, and times in history - and I truly did learn a lot, and learn to love various aspects of art.