[Visited Sep'16] This first module—focused on the Arab-Israeli war and the early 1970s, to be supplemented by two additional modules covering the Lebanese Civil War, Camp David Accords, the Iranian Revolution, and the Iran-Iraq War—forms part of the publisher's Archives Direct suite of digital collections. It is a compilation of British government documents on the region, containing diplomatic correspondence, reports, analyses, and other formerly confidential documents from the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the equivalent of the US State Department. While this accessible source of relevant primary documents will also prove valuable to specialists, it is aimed at advanced undergraduates, graduate students, and non-Middle East specialists who know neither Arabic or Hebrew. Helpful features include the Popular Searches section, which displays an extensive list of pre-selected searches on people, places, and topics. The lengthy introductory essay by Michael Gasper (Occidental College) gives an overview of the Middle East during the decade and links to relevant documents in the module. Although users can access the introductory essays for other collections and can see a faint view of particular documents in them if selected for searching or while using the time line Chronology section, for instance, they will not be able to access them unless their institution also licenses each component: Foreign Office Files for China, 1949-1980 (CH, Aug'10, 47-6624), The Nixon Years, 1969-1974 (CH, May'09, 46-4800), etc.
The functionality of the interface is on par with other digitized document archives, and the collection can easily be browsed and searched. Search results indicate the specific pages where one or more terms appear, allowing users to directly navigate only those pages. All of the individual pages of each document are displayed in thumbnail view, thus allowing easy selection of pages for viewing. Zoom and full-screen options are offered for viewing individual pages. Documents can also be downloaded in PDF, either as selected pages or in their entirety. Searching within individual documents is also supported. The Citation/Export feature easily generates document citations in any of several major formats, and allows citations to be exported to RefWorks.
The main drawback of this module is that its scope is narrow enough that most libraries will only want to purchase it if they can get the entire Foreign Office Files for the Middle East, 1971-1981 collection. It will be hard for smaller academic libraries—generalist-oriented ones in particular—to justify purchasing it in isolation. Libraries supporting professional, graduate, and advanced undergraduate teaching and research on British foreign policy, Israeli and Middle Eastern history, military and strategic studies, and international relations will want to consider acquiring the full collection when it is complete in 2017.
D. Durant, East Carolina University
CHOICE Connect, December 2016