Sax, Boria. The Mythical Zoo: Animals in Myth, Legend, and Literature. Overlook. Nov. 2014. 352p. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781468307207. $26.95. REF
In his latest work, Sax (City of Ravens) offers an eloquent, thorough, and absorbing survey of the representation in myth, legend, and literature of various members of the animal kingdom. The text is divided into themed chapters (e.g., “Musicians,” “Beasts of Burden,” “Almost Human”), each covering animals whose zoological characteristics and cultural representations match the motif. For example, in “Tricksters,” Sax discusses such animals as the coyote, fox, jackal, hare, rabbit, and spider, each associated with wily, cunning, and mischievous behavior. His discussions draw from a wealth of sources including historical accounts, art, literature, zoological content, and numerous myths, legends, and folktales as diverse as the salmon of wisdom from Celtic mythology, Spider Woman from Hopi and Navaho folklore, and Disney’s Bambi. The book is enhanced by illustrations, photographs, and a helpful index of animals and bibliography. VERDICT Informative and accessible, this volume is highly recommended for anyone interested in mythology, folklore, or anthropology, as well as those with a general curiosity in animals and their place in culture and literature.
Walker, Brent E. Mack Sennett’s Fun Factory: A History and Filmography of His Studio and His Keystone and Mack Sennett Comedies, with Biographies of Players and Personnel. 2 vols. McFarland. Apr. 2014. 671p. filmog. ISBN 9780786477111. pap. $50. REF
Historian and web developer Walker has produced an exceptional work about actor and director Mack Sennett, the “King of Comedy” and founder of Keystone Studios, whose films had an enormous impact on cinematic comedy in the silent and early sound movie industry. Walker has chronicled his research in the introductions to each of the three parts of this two-volume work: Part 1 provides a historical and critical overview of Sennett’s studios and films; Part 2 offers the most extensive filmography for Sennett that exists; and Part 3 contains biographies of those who worked at Sennett’s studios, many of them including information not previously compiled. The multiple black-and-white images are alone enough to justify the cost of these two volumes. This reviewer suggests more photographs in the biography section. The index provides access to entries and also acts as a key directing the reader to all the films with which each listed individual was associated. VERDICT Walker has made a significant contribution to the history of the film industry; this is essential for film collections and for film buffs.
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Encyclopedia of American Recessions and Depressions. 2 vols. ABC-CLIO. 2014. 910p. ed. by Daniel J. Leab. photos. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781598849455. $189; ebk. ISBN 9781598849462. REF
Encyclopedia of Ancient Christianity. 3 vols. IVP Academic: InterVarsity. 2014. 3200p. ed. by Angelo Di Berardino & others. ISBN 9780830829439. $450. REF
The Wiley-Blackwell Encyclopedia of Health, Illness, Behavior, and Society. 5 vols. Wiley-Blackwell. 2014. 2736p. ed. by William C. Cockerham & others. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781444330762. $995. REF