Reviews provided by Syndetics
Library Journal Review
Like Kodansha's Japan: An Illustrated Encyclopedia ( LJ 10/1/93), this reference work deserves high praise for its authoritative and comprehensive treatment of Japan and for its lavish format. It is splendidly informative as well as being a handsome coffee-table display item. How to distinguish the two offerings? Kodansha has about five times as many pages and offers thousands of short entries in addition to numerous long essays. The Cambridge format is not alphabetical but topical, covering eight subjects (geography, history, society, etc.) broken down further into subtopics (education, leisure, the media, crime, etc., in the ``Society'' section). If price is no object, Kodansha's has all that Cambridge's has and much more, but either of these grand reference works is a valuable addition to any library.-- John H. Boyle, California State Univ., Chico (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
School Library Journal Review
YA-An excellent resource for broad discussions of Japan, divided into eight major fields-geography, history, society, arts and crafts, language and literature, thought, economy, and politics. The detailed index must be used to locate precise information. The articles are all signed by university professionals. The text is not difficult to read, but students will have to scan at least a page or even a section to find the information they need. Colorful boxed entries contain short discussions of specific topics. While coverage is quite comprehensive, the text is surprisingly short on the culture of the geisha girl and nonexistent on the role of the bath in Japanese society. Placing the only geographical map on the endpapers forces students to use both maps at once, since the colorful bookjacket obscures a portion of each one. Numerous smaller maps appear within the book, illustrating various features of the country. Diverse photographs, usually in color, are well labeled and relate to the adjacent text. The chapter of further reading is, in effect, an annotated bibliography in paragraph form. Its entries are arranged in the same categories as the text. Despite minor flaws, this is a worthwhile purchase.-Claudia Moore, W.T. Woodson High School, Fairfax, VA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Bowring and Kornicki (both Cambridge) have brought together 54 international scholars, representing some of the best in US and UK Japanese scholarship (with additional representation from Japan, Australia, Austria, Germany, Canada, and Italy) to compile what is unquestionably the best single-volume work on Japan. The eight broad, topical chapter essays, illustrated with numerous color maps and photographs, are uniformly well written. Each chapter (covering geography, language and literature, arts and crafts, politics, history, thought and religion, society, and economy) is divided into subtopics that can be viewed as succinct independent essays; colored boxes scattered throughout present special topics. The index is adequate, but could be improved; it does not, for example, index the highlighted special topics. The glossary is probably superfluous and the guide to further reading thin but adequate for the needs of most undergraduates. This title stands up very well with and complements the larger, alphabetically arranged Kodansha Encyclopedia of Japan (CH, Jun'89) and should also complement Japan: An Illustrated Encyclopedia (CH, Nov'93), also published by Kodansha (unseen by this reviewer). Bowring and Kornicki fulfill the preface's promise "to be the first port-of-call for anyone who wishes to know more about Japan and its history." An extraordinary resource for students, scholars, travelers, and casual readers alike; it could easily serve as a text for survey courses. It deserves to be on the shelves, both reference and circulating, of almost all libraries. M. K. Ewing; St. Cloud State University