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Titles were reviewed in RBB from February 2006 through January 2007. All the titles are intended for a general readership at the high-school level and up. For our pick of the crop for students, see “Twenty Best Bets for Student Researchers” in the September 1 issue.
American History through Literature, 1820–1870. 3v. Ed. by Janet Gabler-Hover and Robert Sattelmeyer. 2006. 1,339p. Scribner, $395 (0-684-31460-6). American History through Literature, 1870–1920. 3v.Ed. by Tom Quirk and Gary Scharnhorst. 2006. 1,423p. Scribner, $395 (0-684-31464-9).
If the thought of purchasing yet another multivolume set dealing with American history or American literature gives one pause, the fact that these volumes intertwine both disciplines in a series of well-edited, expertly written, and highly readable essays should allay any concerns.
The Cambridge Dictionary of Classical Civilization. Ed. by Graham Shipley and others. 2006. 966p. Cambridge, $180 (0-521-48313-1).
Looking for information about board games or weather forecasting in classical Greece and Rome? Uniformly excellent entries and more than 500 illustrations focus on social, economic, and cultural aspects of these civilizations from the mid-eighth century BCE to the end of the fifth century CE.
Colonial America: An Encyclopedia of Social, Political, Cultural, and Economic History. 5v. Ed. by James Ciment. 2006. 1,324p. Sharpe, $499 (0-7656-8065-3).
This set fills a gap in the spectrum of colonial reference sources by presenting a bird’s-eye view of life in the original colonies, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Canada, with the intention of complementing the high-school American history curriculum as well as undergraduate survey courses.
Criminal Justice. 3v. Ed. by Phyllis B. Gerstenfeld. 2005. 1,104p. Salem, $364 (1-58765-218-8).
Many uses of this set will stem from readers’ greater exposure to topics such as evidence and forensics thanks to television and other popular media. The content, format, and layout are excellent for the intended audience of students and lay readers.
The Crusades: An Encyclopedia. 4v. Ed. by Alan V. Murray. 2006. 1,314p. ABC-CLIO, $385 (1-57607-862-0).
Recognizing both the complexity of the issues involved and the baggage the term carries today, the team of international scholars responsible for this reference work successfully and dispassionately describe the individuals, places, events, and topics that are part of the crusading movement.
The Encyclopedia of African American History, 1619–1895: From the Colonial Period to the Age of Frederick Douglass. 3v. Ed. by Paul Finkelman. 2006. 1,582p. Oxford, $375 (0-19-516777-5).
As researchers discover more layers of African American history, it becomes increasingly difficult to contain the whole sweep of African American experience in a few reference volumes. This set from Oxford concentrates on history during a relatively short period and is to be followed in 2007 by a second set covering 1896 to the present.
Encyclopedia of American Folklife. 4v. Ed. by Simon J. Bronner. 2006. 1,377p.Sharpe, $399 (0-7656-8052-1).
While other reference works emphasize folklore, entries here focus on folklife—the architecture, crafts, food, beliefs, festivals, and all the diverse living traditions of daily and ritual experiences in contemporary America.
Encyclopedia of Anthropology. 5v. Ed. by H. James Birx. 2005. 2,500p. Sage, $895 (0-7619-3029-9).
Despite the fact that the study of anthropology is well respected and time honored, there has been a peculiar gap in the reference literature. This is the first general multivolume encyclopedia offering a broad overview of the subject.
Encyclopedia of Philosophy. 2d ed. 10v. Ed. by Donald M. Borchert. 2005. 6,200p. Gale, $995 (0-02-865780-2).
The first edition of Encyclopedia of Philosophy, published in eight large volumes in 1967, was the standard philosophy reference for more than a generation. Now comes the second edition, offering hundreds of new articles, addenda to earlier articles, and updated bibliographies.
Encyclopedia of the Great Black Migration. 3v. Ed. by Steven A. Reich. 2006. 1,392p. Greenwood, $325 (0-313-32982-6).
This encyclopedia deals with its topic in social, economic, cultural, and political contexts, covering the migrations since the time of the Exodusters of 1879 moving into Kansas and the Middle West to the return migrations sparked by deindustrialization at the end of the twentieth century.
Encyclopedia of World Poverty. 3v. Ed. by Mehmet Odekon. 2006. 941p. Sage, $395 (1-4129-1807-3).
Globalization makes the study of world poverty more critical, and though the topic is huge, this encyclopedia does an effective job of distilling it into manageable form. Pulling information together in this way allows researchers to more easily see not only generalities but also how conditions differ in each country.
The Encyclopedia of World War I: A Political, Social, and Military History. 5v. Ed. by Spencer C. Tucker. 2005. 1,661p. ABC-CLIO, $485 (1-85109-420-2).
Although often overshadowed by World War II in world history, the Great War set the stage not only for the Second World War but for virtually all of the major ethnic and political conflicts that have taken place since then. This set is an outstanding contribution to reference works “on a struggle whose aftershocks are still being felt.”
The Facts On File Companion to the American Novel. 3v. Ed. by Abby H. P. Werlock. 2006. 1,519p. Facts On File, $195 (0-8160-4528-3).
No other reference work on American fiction brings together such an array of authors and texts as this. Author entries treat roughly 450 writers, including a significant number of women writers and authors from a variety of ethnic groups. More than 500 texts are profiled, primarily because of their significance in American literary history and selection for study in high-school and college classrooms.
The Greenwood Encyclopedia of African American Folklore. 3v. Ed. by Anand Prahlad. 2006. 1,672p. Greenwood, $299.95 (0-313-33035-2).
These volumes in the first comprehensive general reference work on the topic cover African American folk traditions in the Caribbean and North, South, and Latin America. Entries make fascinating reading on topics as diverse as the samba, the Sea Islands, sermons, Tupac Shakur, Stagolee, and the steel pan drum.
The Greenwood Encyclopedia of American Poets and Poetry. 5v.Ed. by Jeffrey Gray. 2005. 2,012p. Greenwood, $599.95 (0-313-32381-X).
Users would have to combine several other reference works to get the breadth and depth of this monumental encyclopedia. With emphasis on the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, it addresses 820 authors and 117 poetry-related topics.
The Greenwood Encyclopedia of Multiethnic American Literature. 5v. Ed. by Emmanuel S. Nelson. 2005. 2,483p. Greenwood, $499.95 (0-313-33059-X).
This is a fine contribution to the still emerging and growing study of the widely varied multicultural literature of the U.S. Everything from influential works to prominent events and places in the sociopolitical history of America’s ethnic groups is covered.
Historical Statistics of the United States: Earliest Times to the Present—Millennial Edition. 5v. Ed. by Susan B. Carter and others. 2006. 4,500p. Cambridge, $825 (0-521-81791-9).
It has been more than 30 years since the Bureau of the Census published an edition of Historical Statistics of the United States. The Millennial Edition, outsourced to Cambridge University Press, has increased from two volumes to five, with more than 37,000 data series. An online version is also available.
Insects: Their Natural History and Diversity. By Stephen A. Marshall. 2006. 720p. Firefly, $95 (1-55297-900-8).
Focusing on families of northeastern North American insects, this guide provides, in addition to text, some 4,000 detailed color photographs of individual species in their natural environments. Illustrated keys to the identification of insect groups are designed to be as user-friendly as possible.
International Encyclopedia of Military History. 2v. Ed. by James C. Bradford. 2006. 1,600p. Routledge, $250 (0-415-93661-6).
This set could easily be the single military history reference in the collection. Its excellence lies in the vast number of first-rate, up-to-date entries on weapons, concepts, types of warfare, and related facets of culture and society not found in similar encyclopedias.
National Geographic Complete Birds of North America. Ed. by Jonathan Alderfer. 2005. 664p. National Geographic, $35 (0-7922-4175-4).
National Geographic has produced a volume that libraries and bird enthusiasts will welcome to their shelves. Its book pulls together a remarkable amount of information into what can only be described as one of the finest one-volume reference works ever published on North American birds.
The New Partridge Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English. 2v. Ed. by Tom Dalzell and Terry Victor. 2005. 2,189p. Routledge, $175 (0-415-21258-8).
Since 1937 the standard dictionary of English slang has been Eric Partridge’s Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English. English has changed; society has changed; the time has come for a new Partridge, incorporating the rich slang of the U.S. The old Partridge is not really dead; it remains the best record of British slang antedating 1945. Now, however, the preferred source for information about English slang of the past 60 years is the New Partridge. (Top of the List winner—Reference Source.)
The Oxford Companion to the Garden. Ed. by Patrick Taylor. 2006. 554p. Oxford, $65 (0-19-866255-6).
Admirably updating the pioneering Oxford Companion to Gardens (1986), this volume expands the original international scope to include areas of the world, such as China, that were previously inaccessible, and includes the latest scientific developments. One would be hard-pressed to find other garden guides equivalent in scope or authority.
The Oxford Encyclopedia of British Literature. 5v.Ed. by David Scott Kastan. 2006. 2,800p. Oxford, $595 (0-19-516921-2).
Focusing on writings that originated in England, Ireland, Scotland, and Wales, this encyclopedia covers an intriguing selection of writers, from Caedmon to J. K. Rowling. Its most valuable aspect, however, may well be its substantive coverage of topics and themes related to British literature.
The Oxford Encyclopedia of Children’s Literature. 4v. Ed. by Jack Zipes. 2006. 1,824p. Oxford, $495 (0-19-514656-5).
The scope of the set is impressive and ambitious, covering 39 countries and regions in addition to genres; terms; individual titles and characters; and authors, illustrators, librarians, and other important people. The breadth and depth of content set it apart as a must-have for any library with reference works on literature in English.
Revolutionary Movements in World History: From 1750 to the Present. 3v. Ed. by James V. DeFronzo. 2006. 1,004p. ABC-CLIO, $285 (1-85109-793-7).
Consistent formatting in entries on 79 different revolutions make information easy to comprehend and compare.
Supernatural Literature of the World: An Encyclopedia. 3v. Ed. by S. T. Joshi and Stefan Dziemianowicz. 2005. 1,200p. Greenwood, $299.95 (0-313-32774-2).
Although previous guides on the topic have generally been more limited in their coverage, the editors of this extensive and ambitious encyclopedia have drawn from the ranks of writers of science fiction, fantasy, psychological suspense, and other genres.
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