VOYAThe eight-volume Great Empires of the Past set examines the Empire of Alexander the Great, Ancient Egypt, Ancient Greece, Ancient Rome, the Inca, the Islamic world, the Mongols, and Medieval West Africa (Ghana, Mali and Songhay). Using the same format for each series title, the author first examines the history of the rise and fall of the empire, before talking about the society and culture. Each volume has a different author, as well as a listed History Consultant. One of the many highlights are the "connection boxes." Aspects from each ancient culture are linked to today's world. For example, in Empire of the Islamic World, readers find connections ranging in topic from Arabian horses and jinn to banking and medicine. Topics from Empire of the Mongols include the title Khan and flanking military strategy to the Great Wall of China and shiraz grapes. The connection boxes make this series extremely browsable. Side bars, black-and-white photographs, and maps all help supplement the text. A time line as well as a list of Web resources are provided. The bibliographies are filled with a combination of text and online sources, and the indexes are straightforward and easy to use. Burgan's study of the Mongol Empire is not as readable as others in the series, but it might have to do with the subject matter and language used. He states that the Mongols absorbed many aspects of the cultures that they conquered. For example, Chingiss Khan is also known as Jingiz, Chingiz, Cinggis, and Ghenghis due to the influence of Persia, China, the Arab world, and Turkey. Nonetheless a wealth of information is covered in the text. Overall this series is an essential addition to school libraries. The ease of useallows for an audience from middle school through high school. The fact that this set includes a more diverse combination of empires makes it appealing to public libraries as well. (Great Empires of the Past). VOYA CODES: 4Q 4P M J S (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses; Broad general YA appeal; Middle School, defined as grades 6 to 8; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12). 2005, Facts on File, 128p.; Index. Illus. Photos. Maps. Biblio. Further Reading., PLB $35.. Ages 11 to 18.
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