Gr 5-8 More volumes from a series originally published in France, all of which share the same strengths and weaknesses. The highlight of these large-format books are the clear, colorful, often action-packed, detailed illustrations that make the books fun to browse through and useful for reports. The large maps on the front and back endpapers are often confusing. The chronological charts are somewhat helpful, but the approach of these books is inevitably rather scatter-shot. No attempt is made to cover the subject in detail. Instead, each double-page spread covers an aspect of the subject. For example, The First Empires concentrates on the early civilizations of Egypt, the Near East, and India. The double-page spreads focus on such things as military tactics, daily life, and the religious beliefs of the various empires. The Rise of Major Religions gives brief summaries of Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism. Europe in the Middle Ages covers the life of the peasants, life in the towns, and the influence of religion. Asian Civilizations covers the early history of China, Japan, and Indian with short sections on other regions. Each book includes a section called ``Researching the Past,'' which gives specific examples of how historical research is done or the past preserved. Indexes are particularly helpful, given the format of these books. Todd Morning, Schaumburg Township Public Library, Ill.