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Exclusive Book & Movie Reviews: A Primer on the Middle East Political Encyclopedia of the Middle East, CD-ROM, Davka, 2000, $79.95

by Mitchell Bard

This program was a major disappointment. It is chock full of information about virtually every aspect of Middle East politics, but it is very clunky to use and lacks the bells and whistles one expects from reference software today. It has no audio or video, for example, and the handful of maps included are terrible black and white ones. The program was easy to install, but has a number of quirks. For example, when you print an article, it disappears from the screen. It took me a few minutes to figure out you had to hit a back arrow to get it back. The search engine was a bigger problem. The first search I tried was for Assad. Nothing came back. Shocked, it again took me awhile to figure out that the authors of the CD used a different spelling, Asad. I'm not sure how many other people would think of this, since the American press usually spells the name Assad. The documentation is also pitiful, a couple of mimeographed pages. Given that most of the material on the CD can be found now for free on the web from the various reference sites, this disk is probably only for libraries and people who want to have every resource on the subject in their library.

Sources: Mitchel Bard is the Executive Director of the American-Israeli Cooperative Enterprise