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Third World Guide 93/94
Directory Resources reviewed by Stacey Cohen
This cumulative guide gives us a view from the unique perspective of the third world. While the current label of these countries tends to be Developing Nations, the Institute del Tercer Mundo (Third World Institute) that put together the information says: "The guide provides information on over 140 states, including 'developed' and 'developing' states as well as the third world."
The term "third world" is noted in an article at the front of the guide to have originated 500 years ago when European settlers in the New World enslaved the people of Africa to work their lands across the ocean. However the term only came to be used in the second half of this century. The Third World Guide does not claim to be objective in its views, but rather to introduce us to a perspective many would not normally see.
The list of individual contributors is extensive. There is also acknowledgment of several organizations-including UNESCO, the UN Information Center in Rio and the World Bank in Paris-that donated the use of their libraries for research. The Insituto del TercerMundo itself is a non-profit organization based in Montevideo, Uruguay, dedicated to providing information, communication and education.
All topics covered are relevant to most people today. Anything anyone might need to find out in 23 areas of research about the third world nations of our planet is here. General topics such as children, labour and food are divided by category rather than country. These are very general and include, along with written information, some useful and descriptive charts and graphs.
The main section of the guide is an alphabetical breakdown of all the countries of the world, including developed, developing, and third world nations. Each gives a brief history, government information, and more general information on natural resources, the land and the people. All the text, statistics and maps are also available on CD-ROM.
An invaluable inclusion in the guide is a page labeled "Networks", which includes a list of Association for Progressive Communications (APC) member networks with phone, fax and E-mail numbers, along with a human contact at each organization. There is also a chart of all the nodes and connected systems of the APC, with an explanation of how it all works. A descriptive paragraph emphasizes that with the development of technology comes "The Right to Communicate", and the importance of this right to all peoples of the world.
The general index is thorough, though it would be easier to follow if the sections were arranged alphabetically. The bibliography and alphabetical index are listed at the front of the guide as opposed to the back, a useful break with convention.
Much of the information in the guide is rather technical in style and content A good working knowledge of the issues presented would be helpful to anyone using this as a source. This does not make the guide less useful, but it might not be best as a first source for someone new to these issues.
The introduction to the guide clearly states that although this latest edition is significantly different from its predecessor, it in no way has all the answers due to rapid changes in the world in these times. It is hoped, though, that through the new information provided, users of the guide will "help people to formulate better questions."
Published in Sources, Summer 1993