Anyone who has used" The Simon & Schuster Encyclopedia of World War II" (1978) or "World War II: Time-Life Books History of the Second World War" (1989) will be disappointed with "The New Grolier Encyclopedia of World War II". Aimed at students in grades 511, it contains many inaccuracies in the text and numerous picture errors. The set seems to have been compiled by Marshall Cavendish for Grolier
Each of the eight volumes addresses a different aspect of the war: volume 1, "The Home Front"; volume 2, "War in the Mediterranean"; volume 3, "War in the Pacific"; volume 4, "The Air and Sea War"; volume 5, "The Eastern Front"; volume 6, "The March on Berlin"; volume 7, "Victory in Japan"; and volume 8, "Behind the Fighting." The index in each volume covers the whole set, with volume numbers in boldface, and photographs noted by italics. The majority of each page is taken up with visual material, mostly photographs in black and white or in color. However, ascertaining which caption refers to a photograph is in many instances a challenge. The format for photograph identification throughout the volumes is inconsistent (e.g., "far left," "below left," "bottom left," or "left" ). Additionally, references to specific photographs in many instances are erroneous, and captions refer to photographs that don't exist. A caption states that the British army in Africa camouflaged lorries (trucks) to look like tanks when it was clearly the other way around. A caption misidentifies the planes that dropped atomic bombs on Japan; they were Super Fortresses (B-29s), not Flying Fortresses (B-17s). Throughout the eight volumes are numerous errors within the text. For example, volume 1 states that the U.S. was brought into the war in December 1942, when it was December 1941. There are many typos--the USO is called the UNO, and Ernie Pyle, Ernie Pyke. Volumes 1 and 8, which discuss life on the home front, reveal the British origins of this work, with very little coverage of the U.S. The lack of a bibliography adds to the unsatisfactory nature of this set
Many excellent reference works on WWII have been published this year that will be useful in high schools (e.g., "The Oxford Companion to World War II" ["RBB" Ag 95]). This one is not recommended.