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Who invented air conditioners? What about Coca-Cola and eBay? This set goes beyond the basic answers to such questions. Each of its 172 articles starts with a paragraph on the significance of the invention in question and includes brief biographical information and discussion of the inventor's research process as well as the impact of the invention. Insets may include time lines or information on such topics as how the invention works, related inventions, and statistics. Each article also includes See alsoreferences and a "Further Reading" section covering print and online sources. Twenty-one topical articles are scattered throughout the set, including "Accidents and Mistakes," "Contests," "Corporate Invention," "Invention and Innovation," "Patents," and "Young Inventors." Volume 1 has a thematic outline of contents, organizing the inventors in 14 broad categories; Volumes 1 through 4 include volume indexes; and Volume 5 includes a glossary, resources for further study organized by category, a name index, an inventions index, and a comprehensive index. The entire set is illustrated with colorful and well-chosen graphics.
—Rosanne M. Cordell
Gr 5 Up -Arranged alphabetically by inventor, the 172 entries in this set include information on Mary Andersona€™s windshield wipers, George Eastmana€™s handheld camera, King C. Gillettea€™s safety razor, and Frank Whittlea€™s jet engine. Articles are usually 10 to 12 pages in length and contain brief biographical information. Each one describes the inventora€™s work as well as the efforts of any predecessors or competitors integral to developing and refining it. Entries are accompanied by well-captioned vintage and color photographs, charts, drawings, and diagrams; a time line is included in each chapter. Lengthy essays interspersed throughout the set cover subjects such as a€œAccidents and Mistakes,a€ a€œEnergy and Power,a€ and a€œOptics and Vision.a€ A simulated parchment page in many articles offers related information, for example, a€œThe History of Packaged Frozen Food,a€ in the a€œClarence Birdseyea€ entry. Sources for further information, including Web sites, conclude each entry, and are repeated in a comprehensive listing in volume five. The last volume boasts name, invention, and comprehensive indexes. Some accounts of these inventions can be found in other sources, but none are as inclusive and thorough as this one.-Eldon Younce, Harper Elementary School, KS