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The CIA World Factbook is NOT for everyone. Too many people end up buying this book just because they see the letters `CIA' on the front of the publication. And when they get it home they only discover that it is not the book that they thought it was. Hence you see people reviewing this book and giving the book a low grade of either 1 or 2 stars.
But for serious students of events taking place world wide, this is a book that is an absolute necessity to have in your library. A definite 5 star book.
The CIA just does not cover the globe with a army full of `spies.' The CIA was founded to replace the old OSS (Office of Strategic Services) that was during WWII a true spy organization. But after WWII the US government realized that they really didn't have a true appreciation of countries around the globe insofar as their origin, history, geography, recent changes (political, economic or military), current updates on the people themselves, government, transportation, and trans-national issues.
This book is not for the average person, but more for a person who wants to keep up with the total update from the year before of what is really going on in countries around the globe, both friendly nations, and not so friendly nations.
It does not cover sports, or developments in science, Personalities, the Arts and Media. It does not go into giving the reader a list of past Presidents, Prime Ministers, and current State Capitols, etc., but keeps the reader up to day on changes in countries, and areas of the globe that affect not only that particular country, but the USA as well.
If this country had to go to war with any country on the globe, then this book would be the very first one that the heads of the military would pick up. This book, had it been around in 1939, for instance, would have given the leaders of the US a far better picture of conditions in every country that, either might become a battleground, or did become one.
For a retired military intelligence officer like myself, this book has global significance that I, and my colleagues still on active duty need to know, and at a moments notice. The information published in this book comes directly from the CIA, but don't forget that these facts are only those facts that are already in the public domain, and the contents of this book contains information that has been de-classified, but many, far too many people wouldn't know where to look to get these facts. Well the CIA has done just that.
If the golf courses were all closed in one country during a weekend, and the men didn't have anything better to do than to invade the country next door to gain control of, not only that country, but their golf courses, then this would be the book that they would pick up to get a complete overall picture of the country whose golf courses they wish to conquer.
As I said this book is not for everyone, but for those who want a true global perspective on every country and region in the world, they this book is for them.
Again 5 stars because of it's detailed contents.
This is an invaluable book for travel to the less developed parts of our shared world. I have given several copies to villagers for their empowerment when little medical help was available. As a physician I found the book both readable and accurate and as a priest the concern for the poor was evident and despite my opposition to abortion on the whole I can still recommend it. Chuck Petit+