Encyclopedia of Modern Asia (6 Volume Set)

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9780684806174: Encyclopedia of Modern Asia (6 Volume Set)
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"Intended for students and non-specialists, this six-volume set does an outstanding job of covering all aspects of modern Asia (economics, religion, technology, politics, education, the arts, environmental issues, international relations, and scientific advances). Recognizing that there is not one Asian culture but many, the editors have been careful to stress both the interrelatedness and the tremendous variance of traditions. The set is equally useful for those researching common themes across Asian culture and those examining a particular country. Well illustrated and carefully indexed, the set is highly recommended for all public and academic libraries."--"The Best of the Best Reference Sources," American Libraries, May 2003.Covers all aspects of life in modern Asia, including economics, religion, technology, politics, education, the arts, environmental issues, international relations, and scientific advances.

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*Starred Review* The goal of the editors was to make this hefty set "the standard reference work on Asia," intended not only for scholars and students but for a broader audience of "journalists, tourists, government officials, writers, teachers, and the general reading public." More than 2,600 accessible entries ranging from 200 to 4,000 words from hundreds of contributors have achieved a further editorial goal of expressing the diversity of modern Asia from a variety of Asian perspectives while also indicating Western viewpoints. The focus is on twentieth-century Asia and on earlier people and events whose impact is still felt. Thus, there are entries on Basho, the seventeenth-century Japanese poet, and on Confucius (as well as separate entries on Confucianism in China, Japan, and Korea).

The editors define Asia as extending from Japan in the east to Turkey in the west, and from Kazakhstan in the north to Indonesia in the south. Thirty-three nations are covered in depth, while other regions and countries that might have received greater coverage are treated in less depth: the Caucasus, Siberia, Australia, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Israel, and the Arabian peninsula nations. The editors note extensive treatment of the latter five in Macmillan's Encyclopedia of the Modern Middle East (1996) as well as in other works. Some countries, such as Australia, were felt to be culturally and politically closer to Europe.

Among the subjects of entries are countries, cities, regions, natural features, religions, social issues, languages, people, events, customs, and grown and manufactured products. Primary coverage of countries and regions is broken down into consecutive entries. Bangladesh, to take one example, is treated in a four-page profile, followed by entries on its economic system, education system, history, and political system and on the Bangladesh Nationalist Party, Bangladesh-India, and Bangladesh-Pakistan relations. The numerous entries on regional relations and, in many cases, relations with the U.S. are a valuable feature of the encyclopedia. For a nation like China, there are hundreds of relevant entries scattered throughout the set. These can be located using the "Reader's Guide," a table of contents organized first by five major subregions of Asia, then by topic, then by country. Under the topic "Arts, Literature, and Recreation" alone are almost 80 entries for China, among them Ang Lee, Architecture--China, Beijing Opera, Birds and birdcages, Ginseng, Hungry Ghost Festival, and Lacquerware. Repeated at the front of every volume, the "Reader's Guide" is a useful finding aid.

Each entry is followed by a list for further reading. Supplementing the entries are some 1,300 black-and-white illustrations, sidebars, and tables; 90 maps; regional and topical outlines; and, in volume 6, a 230-page index. Sidebars add an interesting mix of content, including excerpts from primary source documents such as literary or religious texts, preambles to national constitutions, and travelers' accounts. Cross-references between entries are infrequent. Coverage is up-to-date enough to cover the post-Taliban government in Afghanistan. One misses more extensive coverage of Russia, covering as it does northern Asia from Europe to the Pacific, though there is nearly a page of index entries under the heading Russia.

The only resource providing such comprehensive and diverse treatment of the topic, Encyclopedia of Modern Asia is highly recommended for academic and public libraries. Its accessible style makes it worth considering for high-school libraries as well. RBB
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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