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Countries and their cultures

Corporate Author: Gale Group.
Other Authors: Ember, Melvin., Ember, Carol R., Gale Virtual Reference Library.
Format: Online Book
Language: English
Published: New York : Macmillan Reference USA, 2001
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Review by Choice Review

The editors of this set are president and executive director of the Human Relations Area Files at Yale University. Cultural anthropological fieldwork notes have been deposited at HRAF since 1949; Encyclopedia of World Cultures (CH, Oct'91) presented this material by cultural groups as defined by anthropologists (e.g., Tlingit, Yoruba, Tiwi). This new work is arranged by 225 countries, Afghanistan to Zimbabwe, and the entries contrast what is characteristic of the country as a whole with what is unique to its ethnic groups. Besides the expected topics of religion and kinship, entries also cover history, politics, health care, and etiquette tips useful for travelers. Entries are written by social scientists and include good reference maps and photographs. Citations to books in the bibliographies omit publisher information. General readers and undergraduates. V. E. Young Randolph-Macon College

Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.
Review by Booklist Review

In1996, G. K. Hall published the 10-volume Encyclopedia of World Cultures, prepared under the auspices of the Human Relations Area Files (HRAF) at Yale University and focusing on the cultures studied by anthropologists. This new set, from the same editors, looks instead at "countries and their usual multiplicity of cultures." Emphasis is on "widely-shared behavior and values, as well as on cultural variations within the country." A total of 225 countries are alphabetically arranged. Most are politically independent entities, but there are also entries for dependents (such as Bermuda and Guadeloupe) and for Hong Kong. In addition, the divisions of the United Kingdom--England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales--are treated separately. Entries range in length from six or seven to twenty pages, with discussions organized under headings such as "History and Ethnic Relations"; "Urbanism, Architecture, and the Use of Space"; "Social Stratification"; "Gender Roles and Statuses"; and "The State of the Physical and Social Sciences." Although the headings are standard, the contributors vary widely in approach. Where some devote several paragraphs to topics such as etiquette or child rearing, others deal with them in a terse sentence or two. It is difficult to distill a nation's cultural complexities into a few pages, and there are some broad generalizations and oversimplifications: "Americans consider it impolite to talk about money and age"; "Chinese people are nonconfrontational." Each entry concludes with a fairly extensive bibliography, often including Web sites. Bibliography items are generally scholarly. The similar sounding (and looking) Worldmark Encyclopedia of Cultures and Daily Life (Gale, 1998) covers some of the same ground, but its arrangement, like that of Encyclopedia of World Cultures, is based on cultural group rather than national boundary. Countries and Their Cultures complements both titles by offering a different perspective and is recommended for high-school, public, and academic libraries.

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Library Journal Review

Like the ten-volume Encyclopedia of World Cultures (Macmillan, 1996), the four-volume Countries and Their Cultures is based on the collection of ethnographic information known as the Human Relations Area Files based at Yale University. Unlike World Cultures, which is organized by culture, the new work is organized by country. This work's strength is that readers who know very little about a country can quickly obtain a good orientation to the major issues, history, and social structure of a nation. The 225 entries are between ten and 20 pages long and read like a cross between a well-written encyclopedia article, a travel guide, and a social science essay. They provide a good general overview of a country without greatly oversimplifying or distorting. All entries have the same structure, with sections on geography, history, demography, languages, food, economy, etiquette, politics, family, religion, and arts and humanities. A country's degree of cultural unity as well as its cultural variations are described in the sections on national identity, ethnic relations, and social stratification. Each entry has a map with a regional insert, black-and-white photographs, and a bibliography of recent scholarly books. Recommended especially for libraries that do not own Encyclopedia of World Cultures. Marc Meola, Coll. of New Jersey Lib., Ewing (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.