Encyclopaedia Britannica (EB) continues to be an authoritative resource. The 64,900 articles are signed by more than 4,300 contributors and have extensive bibliographies. The latest printing of the fifteenth edition retains the Micropaedia/Macropaedia/Propaedia structure that originated with great fanfare in 1974: short articles for quick reference in the Micropaedia, in-depth treatment of broad topics in the Macropaedia, and an "outline of knowledge" in the Propaedia.
New entries cover the September 11 attacks, al-Jazeera, and al-Qaeda, all in the Micropaedia. September 11 attacks includes a map showing the flight plans of the doomed planes and a picture of the World Trade Center in flames. Others among the 115 new entries include Barbie, Botox, Designer drugs, Ecoterrorism, Ethnic cleansing, and Swiss Army Knife . Among the 64 rewritten or revised articles are Cru sades, Geometry, Intelligence and counterintelligence , and Solar system. Twelve new maps and 180 new illustrations make the material more current. There is no coverage of SARS (too new), but users will find West Nile virus. Unless attached to rewritten entries, the bibliographies have not been updated.
The Macropaedia article on Afghanistan is 12 pages long and has been updated in several places to reflect changes in 2002, although there is no mention of Hamid Karzai's election on June 13. The index misses the reference in the article to the September 11 attacks. The Micropaedia article on George W. Bush, which ends with the November 2002 elections, mentions his efforts during that year to focus world attention on Iraq. The Macropaedia article on Iraq ends in 2000, but users are referred to the Britannica Book of the Year for later developments.
We particularly like EB's coverage of non-U.S. topics. Macropaedia articles on other countries and on cities outside the U.S can be extensive. United Kingdom is 137 pages; Vienna and Venice are 6 and 8 pages, respectively; West Indies is almost 70 pages. We also like the extensive, scholarly Macropaedia bibliographies. The three-part structure can be cumbersome, so users should check the index first (in fact, the Micropaedia often prompts them to do so) in order to take fullest advantage of what EB has to offer.
Conclusion: EB retains its position as an excellent scholarly reference source for public, academic, and secondary-school libraries. RBB
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