Customer Reviews: The Encyclopedia of World History
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VINE VOICEon March 7, 2002
You know you've finally run across an excellent encyclopedia when you pull it off the shelf to look up a specific topic only to find yourself a couple of hours later reading totally unrelated entries for the sheer pleasure of it. This is my experience with this newest edition of Peter Stearns' *Encyclopedia of World History*.
The Encyclopedia's entries, which run from prehistoric to contemporary times, are incredibly detailed, summarizing each periods intellectual, economic, political, social, religious, and military history. They also include features not found in typical historical overviews. One of my favorites is "Global Interaction Networks," a section that ties together causal interactions between different parts of the world at different historical periods. The Global Interaction Networks for Europe, 1479-1675, for example, features mini-essays on emerging world economies, exchange of new agricultural products (such as maize and potatoes discovered in the New World), and worldwide epidemics.
In this edition of the Encyclopedia, there's also an accompanying CD which provides, among other things, a wonderful historical atlas. Finally, the index is to die for: over 150 pages of closely-printed text. Wonderful!
An overall reflection of the usefulness of this Encyclopedia is that one needn't be a rocket scientist to find it useful. A high school student can profit from it just as much as a graduate student or history professor. I've frequently referred to past editions of it in preparing for my own classes, and I've never hesitated to refer it to students.
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on May 2, 2003
William Langer's original daunting task - to offer a single volume encyclopedia that would be the standard reference volume for historians - was admirably fulfilled in past editions. This sixth edition, with Peter Stearn and his team of scholars of unquestioned authority, continues the tradition. For the layman, this book offers a remarkable brevity and depth. Often within just two or three pages entire significant periods or trends are covered thoroughly. There are rare factual errors, as is the case with any encyclopedic work, but this new edition still delivers the most exhaustive reference with the least errors. For those who love dates and places, people and trends, this is an invaluable reference. For those who hate such detailed information but must keep it around for work or school, this is still the best single volume encyclopedia available. The CD-ROM is painless to install. The integration into MS Word is only mildly quirky - for most terms the desired reference information pops up within seconds and is reasonably relevant. David R. Bannon, Ph.D.; author "Race Against Evil."
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on May 31, 2002
The 1972 Langer was THE standard reference for history students, as I ws for six years of graduate school. It bailed me out numerous times. It parallels the value of the CRC for chemistry students or the OED for scholars of the English language. This splendid revision and updating belongs in the collection of anyone wanting a handy, convenient reference to all phases of history. It has splendid essays that lay out the basics in many fields, like art, math, science, and culture. It should not be the last word on a topic, which you can get from poking through, or visitng your local library. The CD-ROM is a dream, and the maps printed out fine, even though they are just an outline of say, the partition of Africa. As for Lindbergh, the error was perpetuated from the 1972 book, but that should not detract from the overwhelmingly excellent job. Any general reference work that cites my obscure dissertation hero, even thought it is spelled in the English and not the Polish style, is truly remarkable!
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on November 8, 2005
Not for reading, but for looking up details while reading other materials or quick confirmation of background information that comes up in discussion or newspaper/magazine articles or even historical details encountered in literature. There is very little detail, but almost everything gets a mention and can be put in context of other world events. I am on my third edition and would not be without it on my reference shelf.
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on April 4, 2002
I'm a history buff and I have been using this reference book since 1972. It's the best book of its kind. Whether you want facts, maps, or genealogical tables; it's all there.
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on August 9, 2005
This book was incredibly detailed. If you want a year by year reference, this is for you. However, we needed a family general history encyclepedia and this wasn't that. Also, this was organized by the year and not by major events or people. This may be a plus for some but was not what we needed.
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on January 16, 2013
The one 'quick reference' book I find myself grabbing most of my shelf. It provides a comprehensiveness of the chronology of world events that as far as I'm aware of is unrivaled by any other resource. While it doesn't, and can't go into any great depth on any given event it really helps when trying to step back and put events into perspective or order. It also allows the reader to compare events in time across regions. I found it useful as a history undergrad and my niece was struggling keeping all the dates and names straight in her high school history classes until I got her a copy. Now she has one quick resource that can collapse 40 pages of text book largess and filler into a paragraph or two.
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on January 17, 2015
This is well over 1000 pages and packed with historical information. Most of the content is more recent history, so that the more ancient the history, the less content there is. In my case I am more interested in ancient stuff (pre-1000 BC) but it won't hurt having the extra material, and it appears that the content is well laid out and exhaustive. The only downside is the print is so fine you may need a magnifying glass.
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on July 4, 2005
The best part about this book is the CD that comes with it. Anytime I come across someone or something I don't know much about, I just type it in and get all related entries. Very quick and smooth - like wikipedia but much more thorough and reliable. There are reportedly some inaccuracies in the book, but with every page full of historical details, and there being 1000+ pages, there are probably a few mistakes, but I have not been let down so far in my use of it. Enjoy!
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on February 5, 2002
I have eagerly awaited the publication of the sixth edition. It's unique style and flow are what have made it a true classic. Any who have searched for the 5th edition, which went out of print in 1997, know how hard it is to find. I have the fourth edition because I gave my 5th edition away to my brother-in-law. So at last, here it is! I highly recommend this book to arm-cahir and professional historians alike. I have used this book in my physics classes in order to furnish historical setting for the scientific revolution. Further, I have used it as a quick reference for numerous discussions and classes. Buy it!
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