Series: "Africa: Continent in the Balance"

*Starred Review*

The first of a new series, Africa: Continent in the Balance, this excellent, detailed overview, which serves as a preface to volumes that cover specific countries, introduces the continent in all its geographical and cultural diversity. As scholar Robert Rotberg says in his long, incisive introduction, "There is not one Africa." Far from the usual exotic or reverential treatment, historian Habeeb discusses the huge contemporary problems in many countries, including poverty and AIDS, and examines how colonialism carved up the continent with arbitrary borders that have resulted in devastating ethnic and religious conflicts that exist even today.

The attractive, open design, with clear type, beautiful photos, maps, and lots of extras in lists and insets, manages to pack in an extraordinary amount of information on the people, geography, economy, climate, cities, arts, and more. The bibliography is slim, but the book includes a helpful glossary, a detailed chronology, ideas for projects and reports, and lots of Web sites and organizations to contact.

--Booklist, on Africa: Facts and Figures

Colorful overviews of the geography, history, economy, ethnic and cultural groups, and the political situation in these countries. Corrigan presents an interesting and coherent account of Ethiopian history, focusing on crucial events in a logical narrative. Noonan provides an accurate, although brief, account of major historical events. Readers can gain a reasonably good sense of the policy of apartheid, but the book lacks an account of the events leading up to the release of Nelson Mandela and the unbanning of political organizations in 1990. In both titles, significant attention is given to events of the last decade. Ethiopia gives a better sense of the poverty of the majority of people, while South Africa tends to offer a cheerier, more tourist-oriented focus. . . . Each title has a map showing the country's location in Africa and one of the major cities, but there are no visual aids that show the physical features. . . . Shorter and less text-heavy than most of the series for this audience, these titles look as though they are for younger students. However, the economic and political concepts and the vocabulary are better suited for middle schoolers. Overall, the books' attention to detail and their currency make them adequate choices for reports.

--School Library Journal, on Ethiopia and South Africa.

The information in these books is well organized and presented in a clear, logical manner. Following a map and a country flag, each nation's geography, political situation, economy, people, and history are discussed. Recipes, a glossary, ideas for projects and reports, and an extensive chronology are appended. The bright, attractive photographs are well matched to the texts and show the diversity of modern African nations from the rural areas to the cities. Students doing research would do well to start with one of these concise titles.

--School Library Journal, on Rwanda, Nigeria, and Tanzania.