Similar to other Oxford Student Companions in format, illustrations, and reading level (ages twelve and up), this reference set combines the features of an encyclopedia, a political science dictionary, and an almanac. Each page uses a two-column format with short entries-usually one to five pages-arranged in alphabetical order with cross-references and an index. This set not only covers world governments in its seven hundred entries, it also covers political terms, ideologies, biographies of prominent world leaders past and present, famous women, and historical information on concepts and organizations like the United Nations. Governments are first listed by their known and then by their official name. Cross-references are given for countries like the United Kingdom, Great Britain, and England. Entries vary in length from one page for smaller countries and island nations to China having five pages and the United States four pages. Each entry covers the political history, government institutions, parties and movements, domestic issues, and international issues. Complex ideas and terms are explained on a student's level of comprehension. For example, the entry for Canada states that Canada has a multiparty system of government, and then briefly explains the components of that system. A more detailed explanation of multiparty systems appears in the "M" section, but it is not necessary to turn to it to understand Canada's system. The entry ends with "See Also" references and a "Further Reading" list. The "Further Reading" list for all the countries is one of the best I have ever seen. The items listed are current and, for the most part, published by young adult publishers. Media specialists could use this list as a bibliography to expand and update their circulating collections. This book has already been used to look up a term that could not be found anywhere else. A student looking for a list of third world countries found the term defined elsewhere, but this is the only book with a specific list of countries. Other terms, such as democracies, are also defined and a list of democracies is given. Such concise lists are really a strong point for these volumes, because much of the general information is available elsewhere. Pious has included most terms that students would need for assignments. Students wanting to use this set for information on World Wars I and II, the Korean War, and the Persian Gulf War will need to use the index because there is no separate entry for these topics. However, there is a six-page entry for the Vietnam War. Entries on specific topics such as the Holocaust, Gulags, concentration camps, and other war-related topics are given ample coverage. Adults would want more information on some topics, but for young adults and as a ready reference tool, this is an ideal source. The entries are as unbiased as possible, the maps are clear and lend themselves to copying, and the appendix of population estimates and total areas is easy to use for comparisons of one country to another. A section on doing further research includes on-line sources, periodicals, and books (most of which should be found in school media centers or public libraries). Three volumes. Index. Illus. Photos. Maps. Further Reading. Appendix.
Gr 5-8-This set contains more than 700 alphabetically organized entries that focus on 20th-century events and developments that have shaped political systems around the globe. World leaders, countries, important historical events, political ideologies and movements, international organizations, and political terms are included. Entries range from a paragraph to several pages and contain see-also references and a list for further reading. Unfortunately, many of these titles are scholarly and not accessible to this audience. Black-and-white photographs appear throughout. The maps are flat, without any geographical features. An appendix provides brief statistics for all of the countries (population, area in square miles and kilometers, and projected population for the year 2030). Another appendix offers general suggestions for further reading. Although some Web-site addresses are provided, the primary online source recommended is Nexis, a service that is available only by subscription. In general, more complete information is available in standard encyclopedias. Students will need to consult other sources in order to complete most assignments.-Marsha S. Holden, Lincolnwood Public Library, IL
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