Each spring, the Reference Books Bulletin section of Booklist provides updated information on current, recommended atlases and dictionaries. The May 15 issue of Booklist prints reviews of new titles, revisions, and new editions. Here on the Web site you can find a more comprehensive list, to which excerpts of the reviews of new and revised titles have been added.
The following sources are recommended for public, academic, and high-school libraries, based on currency, quality, cost, and availability. All have been published from late 1999 through early 2002 except for an unabridged dictionary and major atlas that do not yet have new editions for the new millennium. The recommended titles are listed by type and the purchaser may choose within types depending on individual preferences or needs.
The Times Atlas of the World. 10th ed. 1999. Times, $250 (0-8129-3265-X).
Although this edition has a 1999 copyright, it is still the pinnacle of atlases. There are 248 pages of digitally produced maps in light hues and clear typeface. For each continent there are at least 10 plates, with increasing definition with each map. The major weakness is the lack of city maps that were included in earlier editions.
National Geographic Atlas of the World. 7th ed. 1999. 134 p. National Geographic, $150 (0-7922-7528-4).
Another late 1999 publication, this rivals the dimensions of the Times atlas (at approximately 18 inches by 12 inches) but has fewer pages, fewer index entries, and fewer maps. However, the atlas does a fine job with U.S. maps, which have more entries on each map. Also included is a section of city maps for each continent.
The New International World Atlas. 25th anniversary ed. 1999. 1,200 p. Rand McNally, $150 (0-528-83808-3).
This is the only major atlas that has text in five languages (English, French, German, Spanish, and Portuguese). The maps have shaded relief that gives a three-dimensional impression. The 160,000 entries in the index use longitude and latitude as the key for location (other atlases use a grid system). A separate section has 65 city maps, including Jakarta, Saigon, and Taipei.
Atlas of the World. 10th ed. 2002. 448 p. Oxford, $85 (0-19-521919-8)
Oxford advertises that its Atlas of the World is updated annually and in some instances this is true. Some of the statistical information in the thematic section is new and a page in the agriculture section updates a map regarding the “Crisis in Africa” with reference to the recent drought. A page of lists of countries and their population includes 2001 estimates. The company asserts that there is a “brand new…Gazetteer of Nations” but the text appears to be identical to the ninth edition except for the elimination of part of the information on Djibouti so that East Timor, a new country in May 2002, will fit in. Some of the statistics in the gazetteer have changed and there are a few new country flags. The page in the introduction entitled “World: Regions in the News” has changed – Afghanistan and Colombia are added and Caucasus and India are removed.
The maps appear to be similar to those in the ninth edition with the addition of national parks and nature reserves around the world. There are a few revisions. The New York City map indicates the former site of the World Trade Center. This and other city maps are still in a separate section with a separate index.
DK World Atlas. 2nd ed. 2000. 354 p. DK, $50 (0-7864-5962-0)
DK’s first atlas was published in 1997 and has now been revised. Although the publisher maintains that all maps have been completely updated and revised, the number of maps (450) and entries (80,000) in the index remain about the same. A geographical comparisons section has been added, with lists such as the least populous countries (Vatican City is at the top) and richest countries based on GNP per capita (Luxembourg is first; the U.S. is tenth). The maps are smaller than in some atlases, making room on the page for text, photos, charts and thematic maps.
Hammond Concise World Atlas. 2000. 238 p. Hammond, $45 (0-8437-1386-0); paper, $29.95 (0-8437-1387-9).
Hammond’s midpriced atlas has 138 pages of maps with 60,000 entries in the index. There are a number of inset maps and a few pages of maps of metropolitan areas of the world, including some in the U.S. These metropolitan areas are also included in the Hammond World Atlas, listed below.
Hammond World Atlas. 4th ed. 2002. 480 p. Hammond, $75. (0-8437-1836-6).
The fourth edition of the Hammond World Atlas is really a new edition from the “Mapmakers of the 21st Century.” Changes from the third edition, published in 2000, include a “Thematic Section” that has a broader scope, and a new 48-page “Satellite Photo Section”. The most important part of the atlas, the “Map Section,” contains 180 maps in a similar arrangement to the previous edition. The physical maps are from actual digital elevation data using new colors. There are new maps – one of Alaska almost fills a page and Hawaii is a quarter of a page. The New York City map has been updated since 9/11. Recommended as a first purchase among medium-sized atlases for academic, public and high school libraries.
National Geographic Family Reference Atlas of the World. 2002. 351p. National Geographic, $65 (0-7922-6930-6)
This atlas is a smaller version of the standard National Geographic Atlas of the World (National Geographic, 1999). There are both political and physical maps of the continents and the oceans. On each regional map page are also information boxes that give brief data and flag pictures for all nations and territories. Inset maps of all major island nations and territories are also provided. Accompanying thematic maps show population density, land use and weather averages for the regions. World maps with information on the economy, crops, mining, Internet connectivity and many other topics are presented with text to explain their significance.
The World Book Atlas. 2001. 240p. World Book, $57 (0-7166-2651-9).
World Book uses Rand McNally maps, so the 60 maps are similar to those in The New International Atlas. The index lists 54,000 place-names. Because the publishers hope this is purchased in conjunction with The World Book Encyclopedia there is little supplementary material.
School or desk atlases
DK Concise Atlas of the World. 2001. 384 p. DK, $29.95 (0-7894-8002-6).
Based on the DK World Atlas, this one follows the DK format of having lots of information on every page. In addition to maps of continents, there are 75 regional maps accompanied by graphs and tables with supplementary material.
Essential World Atlas. 3d ed. 2001. 232 p. Oxford, $24.95 (0-19-521790-X).
Some of the information in this atlas is similar to that in the larger Atlas of the World. The Essential has a separate city map section and fewer maps overall – less than 15 of the U.S. To make the most of the limited space, some of the maps are sideways on the page, so, for example, an area from northern Minnesota to southern Texas is displayed on a double-page spread.
Hammond Citation World Atlas. 2000. 328 p. Hammond, paper, $19.95 (0-8437-1295-3).
The arrangement of this atlas differs from other Hammond offerings. There is no comprehensive index or gazetteer, so place-names are included on the same page or adjacent page of the map. This works well only if you know, for example, that Versalles is in Bolivia, not Brazil. The maps do not have the unique shading that the more expensive Hammond atlases use, but individual U.S. state maps show clear county boundaries. State flags are included as well as nickname, state flower, and bird.
Illustrated Atlas of the World. 4th ed. 192 p. 2001. Readers’ Digest, $26.95 (0-7621-0343-4).
Published by Readers’ Digest with 80 maps by Bartholomew and 30,000 place-names, this atlas provides basic continent and country maps. The atlas is enhanced with color photographs on pages with supplementary maps – population, climate, and so forth. Flags and concise country information are also included.
DK Compact World Atlas. 2001. 192 p. DK, $13 (0-7894-7987-7).
Described as an atlas for the family, this is a good choice for a library’s circulating collection. There are 60 clear, simple maps with 20,000 entries in the index. A fact file contains statistics and flags of countries of the world. A note on the back of the title page provides a URL for updated information.
Hammond Explorer World Atlas. Rev. ed. by Hammond World Atlas Corp. 2001. 132 p. Hammond, paper, $12.95 (0-8437-1357-7).
There are 90 pages of maps, with eight pages devoted to the U.S., and two additional pages of U.S. city maps. Also included are country flags and a reference guide.
Rand McNally Premier World Atlas. 2d ed. 2000. 144 p. Rand McNally, paper, $15.95 (0-528-83894-6). This economical atlas has 144 pages of maps, along with a page or two about each continent accompanied by colorful photographs. There are individual U.S. state maps.
The Compact Oxford English Dictionary: Complete Text Reproduced Micrographically. 2d. ed. Ed. by J. A. Simpson and E. S. C. Weiner. 1991. 2,416 p. Oxford, $395 (0-19-861258-3).
The Oxford English Dictionary. 20v. 2d ed. Ed. by J. A. Simpson and E. S. C. Weiner. 1989. 22,000 p. Oxford, $995 (0-19-861186-2).
The Oxford English Dictionary on CD-ROM: Version 3.0. 2002. Oxford, $295 (0-19-521888-4).
The Oxford English Dictionary Online. 2000. Oxford, pricing from $795. [http://dictionary.oed.com]
Ideally, any library that can afford it should have some version of this great dictionary. Practically, every library does not have it; but anyone with a college education should be aware that it exists.
Shorter Oxford English Dictionary. 2 v. 5th ed. 2002. 3,750 p. index. Oxford, $150 (0-19-860575-7).
Considering it was twenty years between the third and fourth editions of this work, this “abridgement” of Oxford’s flagship OED after fewer than ten years is most welcome. Though general coverage remains largely unchanged from the fourth edition, some welcome changes have been made.
Like the previous edition, this work “sets out the main meanings and semantic developments of words current at any time between 1700 and the present day”. It has “more than one third coverage of the OED” and more than half a million definitions, with 83,500 illustrative quotations from 7,000 authors. Some 3,500 new words have been added. The most welcome change to this edition is that the text is much easier on the eyes than in the fourth edition. With both OED Online and the print Oxford English Dictionary too expensive for most libraries, this is a reasonably priced work deserving a place in almost every library.
Random House Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary. 2d ed. 2001. 2,230 p. Random, $49.95 (0-375-42566-7).
This is a slight revision of the Random House Dictionary of the English Language (2d ed., 1987). A 1,000-entry new word section begins the volume. COM (as in Comedy Central); Heaney, Seamus; and spam are listed here, but so is pyracantha, which was in Webster’s New International Dictionary, second edition, published in 1937. The main part of the dictionary still contains 315,000 words with black-and-white illustrations. Ready-reference material is incorporated into the definitions – a list of selected airport codes, Morse Code, members of the United Nations, and more. For many words the approximate date of first use is mentioned.
Webster’s Third New International Dictionary: Unabridged. By Philip Babcock Gove. 1993. 2,783 p. Merriam-Webster, $119 (0-87779-201-1).
This famous volume with more than 450,000 entries, the ultimate U.S. unabridged dictionary, was originally published in 1961 and republished in 1993 with an addenda of 65 pages of new words. Merriam-Webster is planning a fourth print edition but not for the near future. However, a new revision of the third edition with an expanded addenda section will be available later this year. There is also an online version, Merriam-Webster Unabridged.
The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language. 4th ed. 2000. 2,116 p. Houghton Miffin, $60 (0-395-82517-2).
The fourth edition of AHD has added color photographs and 10,000 new words, bringing the total to well over 200,000. The editors concentrate on usage, which makes this more prescriptive than other current dictionaries. Notes – regional, synonym, usage, and history – appear in boxes by relevant entries. The illustrations are varied – one two-page spread has pictures of a samovar, Samoyed, sampan, samurai, George S and, and a sand dollar. An abridged version of AHD is available free of charge.
New Oxford American Dictionary. By Frank R Abate and Elizabeth Jewell. 2001. 2,064 p. Oxford, $50 (0-19-511227-X)
This is the most recent of the comprehensive dictionaries (between an unabridged and a college dictionary in size), with about 250,000 definitions. The entries are structured around “core” senses, with subsenses grouped a round the core (e.g. cowl – “large loose hood”: subsense include a monk’s cloak, a hood-shaped covering of a chimney, the part of a car that supports the dashboard). Definitions, place-names, biographical entries, and proper names are interfiled, so we find Jackson (the city) appearing together with Andrew, Jesse, Mahalia, Michael, and Thomas Jackson (all expect Mahalia have photos) as well as Jackson Hole, Jacksonian, and Jacksonville.
The World Book Dictionary. 2v. 2001. 2,430 p. World Book, $99 (0-7166-0298-9).
The number of entries (225,000) in this set puts it in the comprehensive section, but the price is closer to that of an unabridged dictionary. Because it is to be used in conjunction with The World Book Encyclopedia, biographical and geographical entries are not included. In addition, because it supposedly reflects the way people should speak, offensive language is not included. The definitions are clear and concise, with the most common meaning first. Sentences or quotations enhance the meanings, as do numerous line drawings.
College or desk dictionaries
The American Heritage College Dictionary. 4th ed. By Houghton Mifflin Company, 2002. Houghton Mifflin, $26 (0-618-09848-8).
This is now the most current college dictionary, with 9-11, 9/11 listed between nine days’ wonder and ninepin. Population figures for U.S. cities are from the 2000 census. The volume has the same attractive format as the larger American Heritage Dictionary of English Language, with photos and line drawings in the outside margin of each page. However, the illustrations are fewer, and they are not in color. AHCD also sharers with its parent boxes for usage notes, synonyms, regionalism and word histories.
Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary. 10th ed. 2001. 1,600 p. Merriam-Webster, $24.95 (0-87779-709-9).
The 10th edition was first published in 1993, but like other college dictionaries, it is updated annually. The 2001 version contains new words (DVDs, dot-com) that were not in earlier printings. In most similar dictionaries, biographical and geographical entries are interfiled with word entries, but here they have their own sections. This is the first current dictionary to be available on the Web free of charge [http://www.merriam-webster.com/].
Microsoft Encarta Dictionary. Ed. by Anne H. Soukhanov. 2001. 1,687 p. St. Martin’s, $24.95 (0-312-28087-4).
Editor Soukhanov believes a dictionary should provide help for people who have trouble speaking or writing English. Thus, entries include misspellings (e.g. suprise, and incorrect spelling of surprise). Technological words are designated by a lightning bolt; support is so designated because the eighth definition is “to provide technical support for a computing system.” Not surprisingly, new words concentrate on technology – for instance, TTL4N, tt. Illustrations are limited to a few small black-and-white photographs and simple line drawings. There are boxes for quick facts, correct usage, and “literary links”. The number of entries is greater than in other college dictionaries, but perhaps the misspellings are included in that number.
The Oxford American Dictionary and Language Guide. 1999. 1,330 p. Oxford, $35 (0-19-513449-4)
Even though this isn’t described as a college dictionary, it fits the b ill. The words and definitions are taken from the Oxford database (200 million words). It includes many line drawings and shaded boxes containing spellings, synonyms, and pronunciation tips as well as word history for some words. A language guide and numerous almanac-type lists are also included.
Random House Webster’s College Dictionary. 2d ed. 2001. 1,573 p. Random, $24.95 (0-375-42560-8) Described as the dictionary that has the most words, the 2001 printing includes definitions of burn (a CD) and mouse potato. The prefatory material lists new words by decades, and a supplement provides a guide for avoiding insensitive and offensive language. Random House concentrates on definitions, so line drawings are few and far between.
Webster’s New World College Dictionary. 4th ed. Ed. by Michael Agnes. 2001. 1,716 p. Hungry Minds, $23.95 (0-0286-3118-8)
This dictionary, first published by World Publishing, is celebrating its fiftieth anniversary with a revision and a new publisher, Hungry Minds (publishers of the For Dummies series). It is a descriptive source with fewer entries and illustrations than the other college dictionaries, yet it is the dictionary of choice for the AP, New York Times, and Wall Street Journal. Definitions are arranged historically, and Americanisms are starred. The 2001 printing offers 150 new terms, including eye candy and road rage.
Webster’s II New College Dictionary. Rev. ed. 2001. 1,514 p. Houghton Mifflin, $24 (0-395-96214-5).
Originally published in 1995 and updated in 2001, Webster’s II has a definition of Internet but not of chat room. There are 200,000 entries, with no obscene words and very few illustrations. Biographical and Geographical definitions are in separate sections.