From School Library Journal
Grade 9 Up—This comprehensive and outstanding resource covers much more than Western civilization. It presents a balanced, inclusive perspective on historical, social, political, and economic issues that students will need in order to function in a global society. The almost 2000 entries are alphabetically arranged and in many instances are further organized by subtopics. "Military," for example, includes "Military Organization," "Military Service," "Military Technology," and "Africa" and other places. Just about every conceivable topic is included, such as "Bush Doctrine," "Blue Jeans," "Social movements," "Slave Trade," "Decolonization," "Human Rights," "Gender and Sexuality," "Nationalism," "Napoleonic Wars," "Wahabbism," and "Mountain climbing." Articles include how the subjects are viewed and used in various countries. For instance, "Blue Jeans" describes the garments' development during the California Gold Rush, how they were part of every youth movement since the 1950s, and the globalization of their production. Many articles are accompanied by black-and-white maps or average-quality photographs. Volume 8 contains a 354-page general index and a "Topical Outline of Entries" with groupings such as "Countries and Regions"; "Science and Technology"; "Government, Politics, and Law"; "Thought"; "Religion"; and "Revolutions." Ideal for social studies classes that need well-written and -researched information with a global perspective.—Madeleine G. Wright, Laconia High School, NH
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Using the Industrial Revolution as its starting point, this set covers multiple perspectives of world history within over 1,500 main entries, many divided into separately authored subentries, resulting in close to 2,000 total by more than 1,250 contributors. Opening with a listing of articles followed by a 54-page chronology of events divided by region, the set is alphabetically arranged by topic. All entries end with bibliographies, many of them annotated. The variety of topics represents a cross section of modern history, ranging from the expected entries on wars and countries to those dealing with demographics (Baby boom,Infanticide); sports and leisure (Baseball,Pachinko); culture (Blue jeans,Comics and the graphic novel,Harlem Renaissance,Parades); and various social issues (Prostitution,Working class). Entries range from as little as one-half page on up, with topics such as Political parties (28 pages with 10 subentries), United States (46 pages, 9 subentries), and Women (34 pages, 7 subentries) among the longest. There are no purely biographical entries. Between the cross-references concluding all entries and an extensive 355-page index, readers should have little trouble finding a topic of interest. There was a concerted effort to make the work global in scope throughout, with numerous entries treating non-Western topics. Also, many entries also have subentries devoted to other regions; Medicine and public health, for example, has among its subentries Traditional medicine in Africa. Bibliographies, excellent overall, can be uneven in length and content. Why cite but two sources for the Mexican-American War, both personal journals, rather than an overview of the war itself? There are relatively few Internet sources cited. Among other errors spotted were an incorrect date for Watership Down in British literature (it is noted as published in 1996 rather than 1972) and a factual error in the entry Jonestown massacre stating “Jones and his wife, Marceline, both black, opened the original Temple in the 1950s.” (Neither was black.) This wide-ranging work should find a place on the shelves of most libraries, though there are many entries whose history will continue to be written (Bird flu and Mad cow disease to name but two). Parting with $795 for a printed set that will inevitably age as soon as it lands on the shelf will give many pause. Still, this is a valuable work for academic and large public libraries. --Ken Black
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