The overseas empires of Western Europe, including the US first as colony then as colonizer, is deemed here to have ended in the middle to late 20th century. Over 400 articles provide information about such aspects as economic concepts and ideas, explorations and migrations, industries, organizations and institutions, people and peoples, religions,
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The period from the Renaissance onward has seen several nations and their citizens explore areas beyond their own borders in attempts to discover and colonize new territory, thereby expanding their sphere of influence for economic reasons or, for some, to escape persecution in their own land. Whatever the reason, colonialism still has its effects on the modern world, whether it led to the birth of a new nation (as in the case of the U.S.) or helps to explain simmering tensions that remain in Africa and India. Editor Benjamin is a professor of Latin American history at Central Michigan University; according to his preface, this set "provides the most comprehensive, accessible, and international reference work about the entirety of Western Colonialism from the Portuguese voyages of Prince Henry the Navigator in the fifteenth century to the making of feature films about British colonialism in India in the twenty-first century." The encyclopedia contains 411 articles by 234 academically affiliated contributors and is liberally illustrated with more than 300 illustrations, maps, and charts. A thematic outline is included in the first volume; the set concludes with selected text from 29 primary sources (for example, Monroe Doctrine, Treaty of Utrecht) and a comprehensive index.
With colonialism so closely interwoven with any discussion of international history, not everyone will agree with the article selection. Entries such as Aztec Empire; Belgium's African colonies; Columbus, Christopher; Human rights; Nationalism, Africa; and Silk are obvious choices. But is Colonialism at the movies, the entry alluded to in the preface, really needed? It is also important to note that, despite the title's inferring coverage of Western nations, that is not strictly true; there are entries such as Empire, Japanese empire; Russia and the Middle East; and Southeast Asia, Japanese occupation of. Entries range from a page or so to about 10 pages (as for Art, European and Religion, Western presence in Southeast Asia). All entries end with excellent, up-to-date bibliographies.
As a work "designed to provide reliable and sophisticated historical knowledge for students, teachers, general readers, and scholars," this one certainly succeeds. A set with similar coverage, Colonialism: An International, Social, Cultural, and Political Encyclopedia--also three volumes--was published by ABC-CLIO in 2003. With more than 600 entries and several chronologies, and the third volume devoted to primary source documents, the earlier set has briefer entries though a broader scope. Given the impact of the topic on later world history, however, the present set will be a worthwhile addition for academic and larger public libraries, even if they already own the ABC-CLIO work. Ken Black
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Grade 10 Up—These 400 alphabetically arranged articles provide detailed accounts of how Western maritime empires and their customs and values spread to all corners of the globe, ultimately shaping the development of non-European societies. Each one presents not only facts, but also interpretations of the impact of European colonialism and is well supported by charts, tables, maps, and black-and-white illustrations. The entries make extensive use of primary-source material and contain both see-also references and bibliographies. A glossary of key terms is appended, as is a collection of historical documents that are directly linked to Western colonial expansion and policies. The text flows easily and information retrieval is facilitated by the effective use of subtitles in many of the entries and the variety of access points in the index. A wide range of topics, such as the Boxer Uprising, censorship, diamonds, and Vasco da Gama, provides a comprehensive treatment of the subject. Falling neatly between general and scholarly reference, this set would be a fine addition.—Robyn Walker, Elgin Court Public School, St. Thomas, Ontario, Canada
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