Baedeker, a travel guidebook, is an authoritative work first published in Germany by Karl Baedeker (1801-1859), born in Essen, Germany, the son of a printer and bookseller. He followed his father’s footsteps and became a printer with a shop in Coblenz, publishing the first of his famous series of guidebooks, modeled on John Murray’s Handbook, in 1839. The book, titled A Rhineland Journey from Basle to Dusseldorf, was immediately successful and was known for its reliability and thoroughness. Baedeker then prepared guidebooks covering other areas, which equally described in detail what a tourist might want to know about the important cities and places of historic interest or questions of cuisine. And so tourists throughout the world felt safer, were more knowledgeable, and were able to enjoy their vacations better with a Baedeker in hand.
Baedeker inaugurated the practice of marking with one or more stars the objects and places of interest according to their historic or aesthetic importance, which gave rise to the expression starred in Baedeker.
That Baedeker became an international generic term was exemplified by Chekhov when he said, in a letter, «Here I am alone with my thoughts and my Baedeker». Although with the proliferation of travel books over the last century Baedeker is not a word so often heard anymore, it still is an apt (albeit loose) replacement for «guidebook».