Dietz, Dan. The Complete Book of 1960s Broadway Musicals. Rowman & Littlefield. 2014. 609p. bibliog. discog. index. ISBN 9781442230712. $95; ebk. ISBN 9781442230729. REF
The goal of this very large book is to “capture basic information and provide a reference source for readers,” and Dietz (emeritus, English, history of modern drama, Western Carolina Univ.; Off-Broadway Musicals, 1910–2007) certainly succeeds. Revivals of older shows and new-to-the-1960s musicals are subdivided by season and then by opening night. The problem with this formula is that the reader is forced to page through the season to find a certain show. An alphabetical list would make it much easier to locate a specific production; as it is, the reader must flip to the back of the volume to the chronology and then return to the particular season. Each entry also features book and music information, directors, costumers, choreographers, set designers, cast members, brief plot descriptions, critical review information, and Tony Awards the show was nominated for and the awards it won. The appendixes are high quality, offering information on published scripts, a discography, theaters, and a thorough bibliography. VERDICT Despite some shortcomings this is a useful resource for theater buffs and general readers.
The Johns Hopkins Guide to Digital Media. Johns Hopkins. 2014. 552p. ed. by Marie-Laure Ryan & others. ISBN 9781421412238. $89.95; pap. ISBN 9781421412245. $44.95. REF
With more than 150 alphabetically arranged, easy-to-read entries from almost 120 contributors, this volume seeks to be “a systematic and comprehensive reference work” for both students and scholars of digital media. Editors Ryan, Lori Emerson, and Benjamin J. Robertson (all English, Univ. of Colorado Boulder) recognize that digital media is constantly changing, with the likelihood of new media emerging soon after the guide’s publication. However, they intend this book as “a bridge between the past and the present,” offering entries on historical as well as up-to-the-minute topics. Sections are written in clear, nontechnical language, and most are at least two pages in length. Each contains a bibliography and suggestions for further reading as well as “see also” references directing readers to related entries. The work is interdisciplinary in its coverage but focuses primarily on art, textuality, entertainment, and culture. As such, it will be of greater interest to those studying media’s role in society or the digital humanities than to people seeking to develop technical expertise. Although the producers view this as a dictionary and an encyclopedia, readers simply wishing for definitions might find other sources more efficient, while those desiring in-depth knowledge of a topic, particularly on an introductory level, will likely be satisfied with this work. Information about the contributors’ affiliations is not included; this is the only drawback. VERDICT This guide accomplishes its goals and is appropriate for any collection serving digital studies programs or emerging digital humanities scholars.
The Oxford Encyclopedia of Islam and Politics. 2 vols. Oxford Univ. 2014. 1425p. ed. by Emad El-Din Shahin. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780199739356. $395. REF
This work, based on the Oxford Encyclopedia of the Islamic World, focuses on the political dimensions of Islam with particular emphasis on modern times. Topics include not only Muslim political thought, Islamic law, and religious beliefs but also the function of Muslim societies, institutions, and modern movements, specifically in contemporary times. Most entries attempt to depict all relevant facets from multiple perspectives, which is a strength. Virtually all entries relate directly to Islam. In material that relates tangentially to politics, the political connection to Islam is specifically highlighted. Each entry has a bibliography and some feature cross-references, and access is aided by an index and a thematic listing of entries. The writing style is well suited for a general audience, and terms particular to Muslims or their religion are explained when used. A glossary of non-English terms and more detailed cross-referencing would be useful. VERDICT Given the book’s approach: presenting all relevant facets and multiple viewpoints of political expression within Islam and the Muslim world, it is an excellent reference for high school and undergraduate students as well as general readers with an interest in the political dimension of Islam.