The first two volumes of ABC-CLIO's "World Encyclopedia of Cities" cover 122 U.S. and 14 Canadian cities. The forthcoming three volumes, to be published over the years 1995-97, will deal with cities in Europe, Asia and Australasia, and Africa and Latin America. The sixth and last volume is to be a gazetteer of 27,000 world cities and towns. Series editor Kurian has authored numerous well-received reference works ("Encyclopedia of the Third World", "The New Book of World Rankings")
These first two volumes cover from one to five cities for each state and one to four for each Canadian province. Arranged alphabetically by city (not state), the data are presented in an accessible format that combines text and tables. Each entry begins with a table of basic data, followed by sections on location and topography; layout of city and suburbs; population; government; education; health; housing; religion; media; arts, culture and tourism; parks and recreation; sources of further information; and additional reading. The information in each section is provided in essay format, usually supplemented by a table. Most essays are excellent--readable, informative, and succinct. They not only provide statistics, but furnish a sense of the city's character and atmosphere. The maps for the cities, though, are uneven in quality, ranging from good to next-to-useless
The editor is commendably specific about the sources of the data, listing title and edition. The preface lists them under the categories used, e.g., Economy, Religion, Media. Sources frequently cited are the "1992 County and City Extra", the "1992 Information Please Environmental Almanac", "The Livable Cities Almanac", and numerous U.S. government publications
A comparable product is Gale's four-volume "Cities of the United States" (2d ed., 1994), which covers 154 cities. Sources are merely noted as federal agencies, "local authorities," and "periodicals and books chosen for their timeliness and accuracy." The organization and presentation are similar--a combination of text and tables. The entries in both sets for Albany, New York, were compared. The Gale set had somewhat more detail on the economy and cost of living, fuller treatment of sports, festivals, shopping and dining, no data on religion, a one-book bibliography, and a clear map of the downtown. The ABC-CLIO product had more ephemeral details (sister cities, distances to other U.S. cities), more extensive coverage on climate, the environment, and history, including a chronology and historical landmarks. The bibliography consisted of six books. The map was muddy though; it appeared to be a section of a state road map showing location vis-a-vis neighboring communities
The first volumes of the "World Encyclopedia of Cities" covering the U.S. and Canada can be recommended highly to meet the information needs of travelers, students, businesspeople, or persons planning to relocate. They are authoritative, readable, and less expensive than the competing product.
A comprehensive reference profiling--in both narrative and statistical form--122 US and 14 Canadian cities. Arranged alphabetically, each city entry includes data from 23 key categories such as history, economy, and climate, and some 200 subcategories including birth rate, median monthly rent, newspapers, and pupil- teacher ratios. Highlighted charts array data and statistics for easy city-to-city comparisons, while street maps identify the layout and landmarks of each locale. Accompanying narratives detail each city's history, point out unique landmarks, note significant individuals associated with the city, and provide an overall sense of the city's character and atmosphere. For a wide audience including students, researchers, travel professionals, tourists, and general readers. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)