These three slabs of an attractively bound and printed encyclopedia, edited by a professor of history at California State University, have a great deal to offer both the casual and the serious reader. Volume I consists of two groups of essays: "National and Regional Dimensions" and "Themes and Institutions." The former discusses the arms control experience of individual countries and collections of countries; the latter ranges more widely, discussing everything from the International Atomic Energy Agency to verification, the role played by the media, and transnational peace movements. The second volume is unevenly divided between case studies of arms control before and after 1945, and the third provides partial, and in some cases complete, texts of treaties on weapons limitation, rules of war, controlling the arms trade and the like.
Seventy-six authors do not, of course, make for even quality, but on the whole, the standard of scholarship and prose is high. Although some contributors look on arms control and disarmament as things good in themselves, the critics (Patrick Glynn, for example) have their day as well, and the encyclopedia's editor is nothing if not sober in his introduction. All in all, Burns has produced an invaluable resource for students, teachers and practitioners. He and the editors at Scribner's have managed to make authors combine erudition and clarity, and have provided cross-references, source notes and pointers to further reading that make the volumes a pleasure to use. An outstanding work.