The Columbia Encyclopedia, 5th Edition

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9780395624388: The Columbia Encyclopedia, 5th Edition

The Fifth Edition continues this tradition of excellence, bringing up-to-date coverage of the whole world in all its physical, historical, geographical, political, scientific, religious, and cultural dimensions between two covers. The Fifth Edition offers more information in one volume than most multivolume encyclopedias: 50,000 articles, 65,000 cross-references, and 6.6 million words in 3,000 pages.

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From Library Journal:

First published in 1935, The Columbia Encyclopedia is the oldest, largest, most prestigious, and most expensive single-volume general encyclopedia in the English language. The new fifth edition, which replaces the much revered fourth edition ( LJ 7/75), is immense; like its illustrious predecessors, it provides international coverage of basic knowledge, yet it remains, in the words of the editors, an "American encyclopedia written for American readers." The editors, a staff of nearly 100 plus 114 academic advisers, estimate that 60 percent of the fourth edition was revised for this effort. Indeed, the encyclopedia is admirably current, covering such contemporary topics and people as rap music, Janet Reno, and the new countries of Uzbekistan and Vanuatu. Inevitably, however, some older articles were insufficiently revised. For example, "rose" fails to note that in 1986 the rose became the U.S. national flower; "Turin" does not indicate that in 1988 carbon-14 dating tests on the Shroud of Turin altered its date of origin. As with previous editions, the encyclopedia's most pronounced weakness is lack of easy access to all its contents. In many instances cross references are inadequate. The reader who wants to know about Medjugorje in the former Yugoslavia, for instance, will find no entry or cross reference under that name, but information is included in the article "Mary." The only way to discover this is through serendipity. Clearly, access to the encyclopedia's fact-laden contents would be improved by a detailed analytical index. An associated problem is the absence of paragraphing. Illustrations are sparse, limited to about 500 black-and-white line drawings, which almost always add to the informational value of the book. The Columbia Encyclopedia competes directly with four other substantial one-volume general encyclopedias: The Ameri can Spectrum Encyclopedia ( LJ 12/91); The Cambridge Encyclopedia ( LJ 9/1/90); The Random House Encyclopedia ( LJ 11/15/90); and Webster's New World Encyclopedia ( LJ 8/92). Although each of these works has merit, the new edition of the Columbia can be enthusiastically recommended as the best available choice for North American librarians, scholars, and other serious consumers of knowledge and information.
- Ken Kister, author of "Best Encyclopedias," Tampa, Fla.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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