The lofty title of this book, and especially the phrase "illustrated encyclopedia," is misleading. This is in fact a modest exposition of different religions of the world containing 14 chapters, each written by a different expert and representing a different religion. Chief editor Richards is general inspector for religious education and humanities for Northampton, United Kingdom, and the experts all have U.K. affiliations. Each chapter offers the usual descriptions of deities, gods and goddesses, and basic theological beliefs one can find in any introductory text concerning world religions, and none especially shines as unique or authoritative. The quality of the chapters varies, though the writing is usually simple, and the glossy presentation makes this feel like a coffee-table book. The illustrations themselves neither help nor hurt the text and could have been left out. Where the book mainly fails is its index, which is small and limiting, e.g., the entry "angels" retrieves to "Jesus Christ." There are no footnotes and no bibliography, but a "further reading" section is included. Modestly recommended for public libraries; the best one-volume book on world religions remains Huston Smith's The World Religions: Completely Revised and Updated Edition of the "Religions of Man," (HarperSanFrancisco, 1991), not be be confused with his later Illustrated World's Religions (LJ 11/15/94).Glenn Masuchika, Chaminade Univ. Lib., Honolulu, Hawaii
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The Illustrated Encyclopedia Of World Religions Ed. by Chris Richards. An outstanding introduction to religions from all over the world, this book provides insight into major faiths, from Christianity, Islam, and Judaism, to lesser-known sects and denominations. 9" x 11". Color photos & illus.