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.
Gr 7 Up-By gathering 218 articles from the "Great Lives from History" series (Salem), adding 43 new ones, and then arranging them chronologically (instead of geographically), the editors of The Ancient World haven't necessarily created a whole new book, but they certainly have created a good one. The clear and lively text is laid out in a browser-friendly manner. Each two-to-three page article begins with important dates and an encapsulation of the subject's historical contribution and ends with a bibliography. The indexes allow users to search by area of achievement, geographical location, and name. Thus, they can quickly find a list of ancient architects, biblical figures, or famous people from Dalmatia. The illustrations (almost every article includes one picture) are excellent. However, without captions, readers are left to wonder who it is that Alexander the Great is confronting in the moody shadows of a cavernous room, who Attila the Hun is serving with an eviction notice, or who Nero is tormenting. Even collections that have the original series will find this book useful. The updates and the reorganization give it added value plus, not only is it a delight to have all these fascinating characters collected between two covers, it's a real education.-Herman Sutter, Saint Pius X High School, Houston, TX
Volume I of a projected ten-volume set gathers 218 essays from the set (1988) and adds 43 new biographies. The date of A.D. 450 was selected as the cutoff between the ancient world and the middle ages. Articles range from two to three thousand words and include a ready-reference listing (including a brief statement summarizing the individual's contribution to his or her society and later ages) and three sections covering early life, life's work, and an overview of the person's place in history. Indexed by area of achievement, geographical location, as well as by name. Contains b&w illustrations. Annotation c. by Book News, Inc., Portland, Or.