This five-volume set aims to provide information on places of historical importance--cities and towns, battlefields, archaeological sites, museums--around the world. Canby's "Encyclopedia of Historic Places" (Facts On File, 1984) identifies 100,000 historic places as to location and historical significance. This identification however, is usually quite brief, ranging from a sentence or two to a page. Its usefulness is, therefore, primarily as a quick-identification source. The "International Dictionary", on the other hand, is to include only about 1,000 sites worldwide, of which 186 (130 U.S. and 56 in Canada and Latin America) are in volume 1. Sites are arranged alphabetically by name. An index by country precedes the entries; 17 nations are represented. The introduction gives no hint of how sites were selected. While many are obvious choices ("Tikal", "Gettysburg"), one wonders, for example, why New Harmony and the Shaker community at New Lebanon were included and not the Amana Colonies. The U.S. sites tend to be clustered in the northeast amd southwest. Several states have no sites represented The signed entry for each site, compiled from books, periodical and newspaper articles, and source material from site headquarters, explains the events that occurred there and their historical significance, as well as what the site offers contemporary visitors. Headnotes for each essay provide the site's specific location, a brief description, and the address of an information/contact office. One or more black-and-white photos or other illustrative matter is provided. Each entry concludes with a critically annotated bibliography. The strength of the essays lies in the fullness of the treatment of events and the inclusion of personalities associated with the site. For example, the four-page entry for Vincennes, Indiana, mentions Lincoln's connection to this city and the fact that the Gimbel Brothers department store began here. One of the six essays on New York City is devoted solely to the United Nations The usefulness of this first volume is enhanced by the inclusion of an index replete with personal names, buildings, organizations, and plac"es mentioned within essays. The book concludes with the credentials of the contributors--librarians, professors, and freelance writers. The endpapers locate the sites on maps, respectively, of the U.S. and Canada, and Latin America Volume 2, on Northern Europe, was published in March; forthcoming volumes in the set are to cover Southern Europe, the Middle East and Africa, and Asia and Oceania. Because of the amount of detail in the essays and their appended bibliographies, this set will well serve its stated audience of students, teachers, librarians, historians, and anyone interested in historic places.
An attractive, appealing reference that provides information on places that have been the site of important events in human history and that have been preserved for the benefit of future generations. The dictionary will have five volumes, which combined will cover some 1,000 sites worldwide. Volume 1 is devoted to the Americas (US, 130 sites; rest of the hemisphere, 55 sites). The entry on each site includes a substantial essay explaining the events that occurred there and their historical significance, as well as providing information on what the site offers to contemporary visitors. Headnotes provide the site's geographic location, a concise description, and the address of an information office at the site or central contact for the area. Each entry also includes a selective listing of further reading. A photograph or other illustration accompanies each entry. The price per volume is $100 if all five are ordered. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)