One of the difficulties in gaining an understanding of the world today is the sheer diversity of cultures and peoples around the globe. With hundreds of nations, thousands of languages and ethnicities, it is difficult for experienced scholars, much less beginning students, to identify the significant factors unifying and dividing cultures today. Hence, there is a need for introductory works of geography that examine the different cultures around the world and present the salient features of each group. The Modern World attempts this function for middle and high school students. The editors divide the world into five regions: Africa, Europe, the Americas, the Middle East and Southwest Asia and Asia and the Pacific. Each region is treated in a uniform fashion. Articles on agriculture, art, cultural traditions, economic development, environmental issues or religion demonstrate shared patterns of life while illuminating the variety of experience. Examinations of selected countries highlight other differences. Since a companion set already surveys The Ancient World (Sharpe Reference, 2007), the focus here is on the modern era. In practice, most entries center on twentieth century issues, but there are numerous articles giving historical background. These vary by region. For instance, the volume for the Middle East includes entries on the influence of the Abbasid Caliphate, the Byzantine Empire and the Ottoman Turks on the modern nations of that region. The volume for Europe examines the continuing influence of feudalism, the Renaissance and the Enlightenment. Full color maps, illustrations and special timelines support the text. Numerous side bars highlight famous individuals and turning points in history. Each volume is separately indexed with glossaries and bibliographies specific to the region. A worldwide timeline appears in the endpapers of all volumes. The result is an excellent tool for helping middle and high school students gain an understanding of fundamental differences and common concerns of the basic regions of the world.