Lo Bello, Anthony. Origins of Mathematical Words: A Comprehensive Dictionary of Latin, Greek, and Arabic Roots. Johns Hopkins. 2013. 350p. ISBN 9781421410982. pap. $49.95; ebk. ISBN 9781421410999. REF
Ranging from the Greek cissoid to the Arabic zenith and Latin convex, this title is a mother lode of information on the derivation of mathematical terms. Lo Bello’s (mathematics, Allegheny Coll.; Ancient Mediterranean and Medieval Tests and Contests; The Commentary of al-Nayrizi on Books II–IV of Euclid’s Elements of Geometry) subtitle clearly denotes the coverage of this volume. He identifies the original language of each mathematical term, describes combinations of root terms, provides explanatory definitions, and notes historical references of word usage. Other mathematical dictionaries such as Douglas Downing’s Dictionary of Mathematics Terms (1995) or Christopher Clapham and James Nicholson’s The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Mathematics (2009) supply definitions and diagrams but do not consider mathematics as a language. A true labor of love, this book will delight mathematicians, especially graduate students. Others can only applaud the knowledge, curiosity, and delight Lo Bello brings to his work. VERDICT Enthusiastically recommended for comprehensive mathematical collections, graduate collections, and for every mathematician’s bookshelf.
Music in American Life: An Encyclopedia of the Songs, Styles, Stars, and Stories That Shaped Our Culture. 4 vols. Greenwood. 2013. 1236p. ed. by Jacqueline Edmondson. discog. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780313393471. $415; ebk. ISBN 9780313393488. REF
This superbly written and edited set is full of pleasant surprises, from offbeat entries, such as “U.S. Presidents as Musicians,” to fascinating trivia (the band the B-52s got its name from “Southern slang for a large beehive hairstyle that resembled the nose cone of the B-52 aircraft”). From the silly to the serious, as in “Fools and Foolish Behavior in Song” vs. “American Federation of Musicians,” the volumes encompass the breadth and depth of the American music scene. The bulk of the work consists of 500–plus alphabetically arranged, signed entries covering notable personalities; famous bands, singers, and songwriters; musical instruments, genres, and styles; organizations; social movements; technology as an influence on music; and a multiplicity of other topics. Add to this engaging mix a half-dozen special features, including a chronology, bibliography, discography, list of music festivals, and so on, plus a refreshingly high degree of academic rigor, and the result is a set that not only makes for interesting reading but is truly useful as a research tool. Edmondson (education, Pennsylvania State Univ., University Park) has gathered a cast of contributors that consists of “more than 280 musicians, scholars, critics, and industry experts from the United States, Canada, Australia, and the United Kingdom.” It should be noted that the contributors’ pages are unusually detailed regarding education, experience, and background of the individual writers, so one gets a much better sense of their musical credentials than is available from a mere listing of a name and an institution. VERDICT While one could carp about obvious omissions (doo-wop, harmonica, and Nashville are but a few), this title does a commendable job of presenting the story of the American condition, past and present, as told through the universal language of melody. Those who need much more detail on the subject should consider the eight-volume Grove Dictionary of American Music, 2d ed.
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Brown, Laura. How To Write Anything: A Complete Guide. Norton. Apr. 2014. 560p. ISBN 9780393240146. $35. REF
Fiske, Robert Hartwell. To the Point: A Dictionary of Concise Writing. Norton. Mar. 2014. 608p. ISBN 9780393347173. pap. $21.95. REF
Shea, Daniel M. & Brian M. Harward. Presidential Campaigns. ABC-CLIO. (Documents Decoded). 2013. 305p. index. ISBN 9781610691925. $79; ebk. ISBN 9781610691932. REF
Introduction to Literary Context: American Short Fiction. Salem Pr. 2013. 300p. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781619252127. $165. REF
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Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels. 2d ed. IVP Academic: InterVarsity. 2013. 1120p. ed. by Joel B. Green & others. index. ISBN 9780830824564. $60; ebk. ISBN 9780830884384. REF
Rasmussen, Carl G. Zondervan Essential Atlas of the Bible. Zondervan. 2014. 160p. photos. maps. ISBN 9780310318576. pap. $16.99. REF
The Oxford Encyclopedia of Islam and Women. 2 vols. Oxford Univ. 2013. 1428p. ed. by Natana J. DeLong-Bas. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780199998036. $295. REF