Middle ages. Biographies

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From School Library Journal

Grade 6-10-Almanac is a straightforward history of the period in 19 chapters. Knight's organization is awkward; some chapters review events by date, others by geographic area, and still others by religious or ethnic group. The volume's strength is its broad coverage; it includes material on India, Southeast Asia, China, Japan, the Americas, and Africa as well as Europe and the Middle East, making it unique among other books for this age group. The numerous maps are woefully inadequate, routinely excluding places mentioned in the text. Biographies presents brief profiles of more than 60 people, ranging from scholars, kings, and saints to writers, soldiers, popes, and explorers. Dozens of sidebars feature additional individuals. The quality of the entries is uneven; while some are actual biographies, others are primarily historical narratives with almost coincidental discussion of the person's achievement. Primary Sources is a varied compilation of 19 excerpted documents, ranging from Dante's Divine Comedy to St. Augustine's Confessions. Each selection contains introductory material, interesting facts, and bibliographical references. However, a number of the translations are archaic and old-fashioned and some excerpts are too short to be worthwhile. There are several errors. Also, while the introductory material, commentaries, and sidebars are helpful, they often do such a thorough (and repetitious) job of covering the sources that they defeat the purpose-reading the actual documents. While the lack of maps in Biographies and Primary Sources is a serious drawback, both of these titles are noteworthy for their multicultural coverage. All of the volumes include black-and-white illustrations but those in Almanac are not all helpful or relevant. A useful but flawed set.Ann W. Moore, Schenectady County Public Library, NY Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.


Also available as a four-volume Middle Ages Reference Library ($155 [0-7876-4855]) with a free cumulative index, these volumes comprise a thorough review of a period that spanned almost 10 centuries. The Middle Ages is the designation given to the years following the fall of the Roman Empire in A.D. 500 to the beginning of the Renaissance in A.D. 1500. Though study of the period often concentrates on Western culture, readers of this set will discover that other civilizations flourished in other parts of the world at the same time. These books are designed to be used by middle- to high-school students but will be of value to researchers of all ages because they bring together so many cultural intersections in one source.

Similar to other UXL sets, this one is made up of an almanac that provides background material and volumes of biographies and primary documents. Each volume has a similar format: reader's guide, time line of events in the Middle Ages, "Words to Know," and index. Each chapter or entry contains illustrations, date spans and pronunciations of names for individuals, sidebars, and a bibliography of books, periodicals, and Web sites. It should be noted that although each volume has a timetable of events, these contain slightly different information, depending on the volume's emphasis. Information about the last dates the Web sites were accessed is provided. The illustrations are in black and white, taken from a variety of sources. Unfortunately, a few of the pictures are grainy. The maps might have benefited had color been used.

The Almanac has 19 chapters surveying different eras and regions, including China, Africa, and the Americas. The two biographical volumes have 50 entries on such people as Eleanor of Aquitaine, Henry the Navigator, Kublai Khan, Montezuma I, and St. Patrick. What sets this resource apart from others is the volume of primary material. There are 19 full or excerpted documents written during this period, including the work of celebrated writers such as St. Augustine, Marco Polo, and Dante as well as less familiar individuals such as Anna Comnena and Lo Kuan-chung. Each selection is placed in its historical context and followed by a section entitled "What Happened Next . . ." Unfamiliar words or terms are defined in sidebars. Each entry has a box profiling the author of the documents and at least two illustrations. "Research and Activity Ideas" is a unique feature of the almanac volume. The suggestions often include Web sites to help expand students' interests.

This set is an excellent source for teachers and students to consult and broaden their understanding of a rich and complex historical period. It should be in school and public libraries. REVWRCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Author(s) Book :Judson Knight
Publish Year :2000 Publisher : U·X·L
You can check by ISBN10/ISBN13 : 0787648574/9780787648572
Pages :212

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