I normally review a number of books in each issue of the (now) UN21 Newsletter. For two reasons, I am limiting my reviews to only one publication for this issue. First, I have been rather occupied this year in co-ordinating my own international conference at http://home.att.net/~slomansonb/sdtjconf.html. I will review of number of books which are on my shelf at present, in the post-Annual Meeting UN21 Newsletter (target date: May, 2000). Second, an unusually prominent and useful publication has come to my attention, which all readers should peruse, buy, and/or convince the library which they frequent to obtain:
B. Gentleson & Thomas Patterson (ed.), Encylcopedia of U.S. Foreign Relations (Oxford, Eng. & NYC: Oxford Univ. Press, 1997) ISBN: 0195110552 [four volumes]. Price $450.00.
Writers and librarians have publicly lamented about the lack of materials which would yield the worldwide content of current foreign relations practice. Although this publication deals with just one nation (U.S.), it is--or destined to become--the model for others to follow. It was prepared under the auspices of the US Council on Foreign Relations, and includes the exhaustive efforts of some 375 contributors--each responsible for the approximately 850 entries in these four volumes.
It is exhaustive. Each volume is between 400 and 480 pages in length. The entire work is arranged alphabetically, eg, Vol. 1 = Aberdeen, Fourth Earl (1784-1860) through Defense Reorganization Act (1986). The front matter of the first volume carries a complete alphabetized List of Entries and Directory of Contributors (by subject entry).
The coverage and selections are splendid. Each entry is a succinct statement about a carefully selected subject. The length varies from a half-page, to several, where appropriate. Many of the country entries include useful charts, so that the world is literally "between two covers." There are many other useful charts, which provide access to content as well as completeness of coverage: people, places, events, nations, etc.--all with a view toward providing a collated view of US foreign relations practice for two centuries.
The utility of this work is evidenced by the "Further Reading" bibliographies at the end of most entries (e.g., two dozen resources cited after the Cuban Missile Crisis entry). These research nuggets consist of books or articles which provide further access to the basic information in each well-written description--making this encyclopedia a veritable researcher's dream.
In addition to a lengthy Index, the fourth volume contains the following Appendixes: Chronology of U.S. Foreign Relations; Table of National Data (regarding countries with which the US has been engaged in foreign relations); and a Classified Bibliography of Reference Works.
Ordering info: US--Oxford Univ. Press 1 (800) 451-7556. UK--none given.
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