The World Almanac and Book of Facts Paperback – Nov 22 2011
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Page 192. Political Leaders. The first few examples from this page: Frances Perkins (first female Cabinet member under FDR); Eva Peron; Juan Peron; Joseph Pilsudski; Charles Pinckney; and so on.
Page 329. Celestial Events, 2012; Astronomical positions and constants (not necessarily a must read for me!).
Page 577. Information about two states--Montana and Nebraska. For these (and other states), we learn about the states' populations, their geography, chief industries, state motto and flower and song (Did you know that the state flower of Montana is the Bitterroot?), tourist attractions, and so on.
Page 665. Here, we see a description of world history from 1950-1959. Among the entries here: Events in Korea, Indochina (early years of the Vietnamese conflict), China (The Great Leap Forward).
Page 786. This is in the midst of a section on countries of the world. This page features Indonesia. We learn of its population, age distribution, geography, finances, economy, important historical events, and so on.
And on it goes. . . .
For people who just want a sense of what information is available across many domains, this is a wonderful volume! I await the publication of each year's volume with considerable anticipation. This year's volume is no disappointment.
The World Almanac contains much useful information that belongs in any serious basic-reference set. For the world, the almanac presents basic statistics about each nation, and about the world's major religions; and summarizes the world's history, with more detailed histories of the United States and of the preceding year. For the United States, the almanac reprints the nation's organic documents, the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution; contains a directory of the entire Federal government; presents basic statistics about each state and major city, and a short biography of each president; and much more. The almanac also contains bountiful information about education, science, sports, and many other topics.
The 2012 edition does differ in a few important respects from other recent editions -- sometimes for the better, sometimes not. For the better, the 2012 edition reinstates the longtime feature (omitted from the 2009 edition) listing every community with a population over 10,000 (raised from 5,000 in older editions), with its ZIP code and area code. But on the downside, evidently the tradeoff for reinstating that listing was dropping the listing of counties and county seats. On the upside, not only is the 2012 edition out two full weeks earlier than the last few editions (which sometimes didn't appear until December), but its coverage of 2011 news goes all the way through October 2011, hopefully reversing the recent trend of ending coverage earllier and getting the almanac out later. (The preceding year's news had been ending earlier and earlier in recent editions: in the 1999 edition the last entry was 3 November 1998, in the 2004 edition it was 16 October 2003, and in the 2008 edition it was 12 October 2007.)
Overall, the 2012 World Almanac continues to set the standard, and is well worth the price. No other single volume offers such a wealth of information on such a variety of subjects.
To take an example: Even though the US Census took place in 2010, and the results are in for this edition, the World Almanac still does not have the county-by-county population figures. However the county-by-county election results for the presidential election in 2008 is still in. Why keep the "old news" of a three year old election in, while excluding the current news of the new population?
Generally though, the statistics remain up to date and the book is still highly useful.