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Full Text Review(s)
Bottom Line: The books are approachable, interesting, and welcoming to upper elementary and middle school students. Recommended for school and public libraries. —Laurie Selwyn, Grayson Cty. Law Lib., Sherman, TX "
"Western Asia stretches from the Black Sea to the Mediterranean Sea, from the Arabian Peninsula to the Gulf region, from the central Asia countries to Russia. This vast area represents a dichotomy of ancient civilizations and relatively new nation-states, with a wide diversity of cultures and peoples. The history of this region was dominated by Britain, France, and Russia in the nineteenth and early twentieth century. This period of imperialism still influences current events in this area. Essays profile the 28 countries in the region with their geography, climate, history, politics and economics, religions, housing, clothing, languages, health, education, art, music, cuisine, and sports and recreation. As a sample of the set’s content, we learn No Ruz, the Zoroastrian festival that began in Ancient Persia marking the start of spring, is still celebrated as a major event throughout Central Asia, Turkey, and Iran. Nearly 50 percent of Jordan’s population is younger than 20 years old. This has led to a heavy emphasis on education with free and compulsory schooling up to the age of 15. Life expectancy has fallen in Russia since the 1990s, the lowest of any European country; average life expectancy for a Russian male is 58 years. The concluding volume of the series reprises a further reading section that includes general titles and Websites as well as references specific to each country, relevant fiction works, a pronunciation guide with brief definitions by country, a listing of National Days, music resources, and indexes by biographic names, geography, religion, and sports. The target audience for this publication is middle school students. [R: LJ, 1 Feb 07, p. 98]—Adrienne Antink"
American Reference Books Annual
"At once entertaining and fact-packed, this enticing set presents a wealth of information on a critically important region. It covers Turkey, Pakistan, and the states of the Russian Federation and the Arabian Peninsula. Oddly, the Maldives and the British Indian Ocean Territory, both in southern Asia, are also included. After a general introduction and reader’s guide orient users, alphabetically arranged articles address the history, economy, language, religion, lifestyle, food and drink, health, education, arts, politics, and culture of the region’s countries. Other topics are included as appropriate, such as "Rugs and Carpets" in "Azerbaijan." Article lengths vary: Iran and Iraq share an entire volume, whereas the Maldives are covered in four pages. Forthright statements, for example, on former U.S. support of Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein, reflect scholarly objectivity. Abundant, recent color photos; time lines; boxes with data or interesting sidelights; pronunciation help; color relief maps; and a large, clear typeface are engaging features. Each book includes the same glossary; biographical, geographical, and comprehensive indexes; pronunciations; National Days lists, by country and date; and multiple indexes by country. There are some minor mistakes: for example, both Azerbaijan and Kyrgyzstan are named as "the first" Soviet republic to declare independence. [Marshall Cavendish comment: The reviewer is citing one example of a presumed error, but the reviewer has misread or misunderstood the text. Our Azerbaijan entry on page 56 of volume 2 correctly indicates that Azerbaijan was "the first of the Soviet republics to declare its independence." Our Kyrgyzstan entry on page 250 of volume 5 correctly indicates that Kyrgyzstan "became the first central Asian republic to declare itself independent." The reviewer's misreading stems from the fact that Azerbaijan, which is west of the Caspian Sea, is not considered to be a central Asian republic. Both "firsts" are correct.] This accessible, accurate, and attractive set could inspire future ethnographers, diplomats, and world citizens. –Patricia D. Lothrop, St. George’s School, Newport, RI"
School Library Journal
"Arranged alphabetically by country, this set presents the history, religion, economy, culture, arts, language, and leisure activities of 28 countries. Each volume contains full color flags and maps, a glossary, further reading, and an index. A timeline for each article traces the country’s history from its origin to the present day. Larger countries such as the Russian Federation are given more in-depth coverage. Lavish photographs are balanced with readable text and arranged in an attractive format. Color boxes highlight key facts and figures about each country, climate, and areas for further study such as language, recipes, people, and other related topics. Volume 1 contains both an introduction to western Asia and a "Reader’s Guide" that provides an overview of all 11 volumes. The comprehensive index in volume 11 make this set especially useful and accessible. They include: geographical, biographical, arts, festivals, food, peoples and cultures, religions and ceremonies, sports and games. An extensive bibliography, pronunciation guide, and a list of national days complete the last volume. This set will make research for upper elementary and middle school students easy and interesting. Recommended."
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