The 17th & 18th Centuries and The 19th Century are part of a ten-volume set titled Dictionary of World Biography, a revision and new arrangement (by time period) of Salem Press's 30-volume Great Lives from History. (Two earlier titles in the set, The Middle Ages and The Renaissance, have been well reviewed, LJ 5/15/99.) The 17th & 18th Centuries contains 377 essays, 40 of them new, while The 19th Century contains 613 essays, 69 of them new. Three to four pages long and arranged alphabetically by subject, the essays are chronological in structure, with the final paragraph summing up each subject's life and work. Each essay is preceded by brief factual information (birth and death dates, areas of achievement, and contributions) and concludes with a brief annotated bibliography of secondary sources. The essays are signed, with contributors (mostly faculty at U.S. universities) listed at the beginning of each volume. In addition, each volume is indexed by name, location, and area of achievement, with the name index usefully including See references for variant forms. The indexes in each volume cover the entire set, a plus unless you decide to buy only selected volumes. Like the Dictionary of World Biography, the Abridged Encyclopedia of World Biography (AEWB) is based on a previous publication, in this case the second edition of the Encyclopedia of World Biography. It contains over 7000 entries. Each volume of AEWB is devoted to a broad subject: American history, world history, literature, science and mathematics, arts and entertainment, and social science. Indexes by name, nationality, and occupation appear at the end of each volume and index the entire set in clear fashion. The occupation index is quite extensive, including, for example, dentists, Egyptologists, entrepreneurs, priests, and railroad builders. Because this work is an abridgment, only 2000 of the entries are in essay format, usually one to two pages in length, although some are longer. Essentially descriptive, these essays end with annotated bibliographies. The remaining 5000+ biographies provide basic facts and one to two sentences explaining the person's importance. The most exciting aspect of the AEWB is the number of entries for currently living people and the extensive occupation index. However, much of its information is sparse and factual, with little analysis. By contrast, the 17th & 18th Centuries and The 19th Century are well researched and detailed, often providing much more information than the AEWB. However, libraries already owning Great Lives from History will find buying this new set a questionable use of money. Many of the entries have not been updated (including the bibliography at the end of each essay), so you are paying a lot for repackaged information. For college and public libraries not owning Great Lives from History, this is, however, worthwhile. While the AEWB is obviously unnecessary for libraries owning the second edition of The Encyclopedia of World Biography, it may still be useful in libraries looking to identify people either by nationality or occupation.--Cynthia A. Johnson, Barnard Coll. Lib., New York Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.