If one were to wish for a book that gives a lot of answers on a variety of subjects for ready reference, the kind of stuff not in a traditional almanac, this would be a wish come true. The amount of information packed in these 600 pages is mind-boggling
Fifteen sections cover "Government," "Politics," "Law," "History," "Science, Medicine and Technology," "Access to Information," "Technical Vocabularies," "Mathematics," "Disasters," "The Journalist's Notebook," "Quick Census Figures," "Religion," "Getting Around," "Popular Culture," and "Sports." Sections contain chronologies, glossaries, biographies, bibliographies, addresses and telephone numbers for contacts, and lists and/or charts, as the authors deem important. They try to balance the presentations with worldwide coverage, not only American and European
Examples of contents include a section on politics that includes a glossary, a summary of major political scandals since 1923 (including Iran-Contra with a separate emphasis on Watergate), a description of traditional voting blocs, a list of political parties, an explanation of the presidential electoral process, and lists of political campaign slogans. The section on science, medicine, and technology has lists and descriptions of elements and common chemicals, illegal drugs, prescription and nonprescription drugs, common toxic chemicals, nuclear power (with a glossary and addresses of nuclear power plants in the U.S.), a history of aviation, astronomy facts, a meteorology glossary, and frontiers of science (AIDS, superconductors, nuclear fusion, space, and genetics)
As always, there are a few minor quibbles. In the history section, there is a necrology in which Princess Grace of Monaco is alphabetized under "P" instead of "G" (a computer's preference, not a librarian's). In the "Journalist's Notebook" is a helpful discussion of libel and copyright law, but no mention of plagiarism
The use of boldface type in the narrative sections on history and biography will help the user quickly locate information on a page. The index lists all subjects but doesn't always include the names on lists, chronologies, etc
The authors, with a combined 40 years of experience as reporters, writers, and editors, have designed this book "for researchers and writers--whether journalists, business professionals or students--who want to roll up their sleeves and get the job done efficiently and well." The book that this one most resembles is "The New York Public Library Desk Reference" ["RBB" N 1 89]. Both provide lists of Academy Award winners, architectural terms, and countries of the world. However, there is plenty of unique information in each. "The Essential Researcher" is highly recommended for all school and public libraries and personal reference shelves, although libraries should consider having it rebound, as the paperback format will not stand up to the use it will get.