The Great Black Migration: A Historical Encyclopedia of the American Mosaic. Greenwood. 2014. 453p. ed. by Steven A. Reich. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781610696654. $89; ebk. ISBN 9781610696661. REF
Editor Reich’s excellent (history, James Madison Univ., Harrisonburg, VA; A Working People: A History of African American Workers Since Emancipation) work provides researchers with a broad overview of the two waves of migration by Southern blacks to the North and West regions of the United States. A guide to topics, grouped by subject, and a chronology are located at the beginning of the book. Subjects include social and political movements, business, people, religion, culture, sports, and geographic regions. Most important, the entries highlight the influence of black migration on each of the subject areas. Summaries also include a short list of books or articles for further reading as well as cross-references to other entries. Primary-source documents, such as letters and firsthand news articles, along with a selected bibliography arranged by subject are also provided. VERDICT The stated target audience for this encyclopedia is high school students, but the material will be useful to students in community colleges as well. Recommended for serving those populations.
Lobban, Richard A., Jr. & Christopher H. Dalton. Libya: History and Revolution. Praeger. 2014. 219p. index. ISBN 9781440828843. $52; ebk. ISBN 9781440828850. REF
This survey of Libya from prenationhood to 2013 cursorily describes the country’s history (in redundant chapters); the rise and rule of former prime minister Muammar al-Gaddafi; some economic and political consequences of Libya’s oil wealth; Gaddafi’s overthrow (in highly repetitive chapters on the Arab Spring); and then offers a final compilation of news items from the post-Gaddafi era. Lobban (ret. anthropology, Rhode Island. Coll.; Historical Dictionary of Sudan) and Dalton (U.S. Marines) are ill-served by insufficient editing that’s painfully evident throughout. The writing is at most serviceable, at worst unintelligible. Besides occasional incoherence and a habitually clotted style, word errors (confusing penultimate and ultimate; principle/principal, Grecian/Greek, reign/rein, etc.) or typos mar every page. Overall organization is so poor that even chronological order is obscured. Although clarity (on sentence, paragraph, and structural levels) remains problematic, the writing becomes livelier when dealing with military and tactical matters. Consideration of the social, cultural, and political (especially tribal), situation of the common Libyan is rare: this is “great man” history. Heavy on hardware (e.g., weapons) and data, this book is light on analysis and insight. North Atlantic Treaty Organization military officers are commended individually but, for example, “The Final Talley” [sic] omits war casualty numbers. President Barack Obama is cited multiple times; former U.S. president Ronald Reagan, never. An appendix provides additional military data, including a largely repetitive month-by-month 2011 war-action log. Source lists after each chapter are redundant, given the chapter-based bibliographies at the book’s end. There is a reasonably thorough index. VERDICT Rushed into print in flawed rough-draft form, this book will likely be of interest to North African/military specialists only, but will only be of use to those of them who can overlook its problems.
The Bloomsbury Companion to Analytic Philosophy. Bloomsbury. (Continuum Companions). 2014. 672p. ed. by Barry Dainton & Howard Robinson. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781441126283. $190; ebk. ISBN 9781441163042. REF
According to their overview, coauthors Dainton (philosophy, Univ. of Liverpool; Self: Philosophy in Transit) and Robinson (philosophy, Central European Univ., Budapest; Matter and Sense) aim to provide “a guide to analytic philosophy’s past, present, and future.” Following that introduction and a brief preface, the book is divided into three parts. As promised, the first part delves into the history and issues of analytic philosophy (“Wittgenstein and the Tractatus,” “Developments and Ethics”); the second part discusses current research (“Philosophy of Science,” “Personal Identity: Are We Ontological Trash?”); and the third section looks to the future of the field (“Specialization and Science,” “Crisis?”). Each part contains several chapters; Dainton and Howard have written most of the material in the first and third parts while the chapters in the second section are by various contributing scholars. The work also offers a useful dictionary of key terms as well as a chronology of events. VERDICT The editors and contributors delve deeply into their subject and examine it from many different perspectives. This thorough guide will be useful to anyone looking for a comprehensive resource on analytic philosophy.
Auders, Aris G. & Derek P. Spicer. Encyclopedia of Conifers: A Comprehensive Guide to Cultivars and Species. 2 vols. Royal Horticultural Society & Kingsblue. 2014. 1507p. illus. ISBN 9781907057151. $269. REF
With its oversize volumes coming in at several pounds each, this guide to conifers truly has earned the modifier “comprehensive.” With more than 5,000 photographs taken specifically for the publication, all 615 species of conifers are covered, with an additional 8,000 cultivars thrown in for good measure. Auders, a conifer collector and photographer, and Spicer, chairman of the British Conifer Society, recognizing that conifers are much more than a simple arrangement of needles on branches, have also included spectacular images of conifer pollen cones and seed cones, showing fully the amazing variety and beauty that is found in this huge grouping of plants of the subclasses Pinidae, Ginkgoidae, Cycadidae, and Gnetidae. Entries are neatly arranged with descriptions that include origins and dates; the authors also take the useful further step of including major nurseries and conifer collectors who can be relied upon to supply many of the plants contained within. VERDICT Such a detailed work comprised of such beautiful photographs would normally be prohibitively expensive, yet the cost is well within the affordable realm for most libraries. Both home gardeners who value the scientifically accurate and detailed as well as horticultural professionals would truly benefit from this up-to-date and comprehensive labor of love, which will be worth acquiring. Those who teach botanical courses within higher education could also find this extremely useful.
Encyclopedia of Social Deviance. 2 vols. SAGE. 2014. 864p. ed. by Craig J. Forsyth & Heith Copes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781452240336. $315. REF
Forsyth (sociology, Univ. of Louisiana at Lafayette) and Copes (justice sciences, Univ. of Alabama at Birmingham; Identity Thieves; coeditor, Voices from Criminal Justice and Criminological Theory) and 200-plus contributors cover here “any behavior that violates a cultural norm.” This extremely broad definition of social deviance would seemingly make it quite difficult, if not impossible, to encompass in one set the entirety of background information on the topic. The more than 300 entries, which are between one and five pages in length each, are wide ranging, addressing subjects such as academic deviance, the broken window thesis, general strain theory, homelessness, the punk subculture, and the Tea Party movement. The material is accessible and includes cross-references and suggestions for further reading. The two volumes are not without merit, and while it is useful to view topics through a social deviance lens, reference titles on specific areas and/or themed examples of concept would enable deeper coverage and are preferable. In terms of similarly broad-themed encyclopedias, the Routledge Encyclopedia of Criminology and Deviant Behavior provides twice the content, although, at 14 years old, does not include the most contemporary ideas or issues. VERDICT Despite its overly broad coverage, this title will work in academic institutions, which will do well to add it to the demand-driven-acquisitions list.
Patel, Jayesh. Flannels on the Sward: History of Cricket in Americas. Jayesh Patel. 2014. 402p. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780989678513. pap. $55. REF
More a monograph than a traditional reference source, this work focuses on the history of cricket in eastern Canada and the original American colonies from the 1700s to the late 1800s. Little is written about either Latin America or other parts of the United States although there are short chapters on Hawaii and Mexico. Likewise, not much is included about 20th-century cricket. However, self-publisher Patel’s enthusiasm and for and knowledge of the sport are in evidence throughout his text. In an articulate and absorbing style, the author, a fan of the game, details convincingly the sport’s beginnings in America’s colonial era, its growth over the next hundred years, and its eventual decline at the end of the 19th century. His descriptions of key figures, games, and moments lovingly capture the sport’s essence. Many pages contain fascinating artifacts such as scorecards, pictures, diagrams, and announcements, giving the work authenticity. The bibliography has a solid selection of texts but generally lists magazines, journals, and periodicals without specific citations. The lengthy index primarily lists names and places. Perhaps the most satisfying part of the book is Patel’s attempt to explain cricket’s failure to catch on in America. One can sense his exasperation and disappointment that baseball rather than cricket evolved into the nation’s pastime. After reading this informative introductory history of the sport, many may agree with him. VERDICT Although a bit short on statistics, this title is an engaging work on the first two centuries of cricket in North America, and one that general readers who want to learn more about the sport will enjoy.