Reference Reviews, October 15, 2011


Conflict and Conquest in the Islamic World: A Historical Encyclopedia. ABC-CLIO. 2011. 1042p. ed. by Alexander Mikaberidze. photogs. maps. index. ISBN 9781598843361. $195. Online: ABC-CLIO eBook Collection REF
With this survey, Mikaberidze (history, Louisiana State Univ.; The Battle of Borodino; The A to Z of Georgia) adds considerable depth to available resources about the Muslim world’s military history. There are approximately 625 articles on significant battles, campaigns, figures, armies, weapons, treaties, and other topics related to 254 conflicts from the Battle of Badr (623 C.E.) to the current civil strife in Syria and Libya. Alphabetically arranged articles range in scope from Great Game and al Qaeda in Iraq to six separate Constantinople, Treaty of entries and a career profile of the 18th-century pirate Hajji Husein Pasha. Each covers its topic in clear, nontechnical prose, using the Gregorian calendar for dating and versions of names that are relatively free of diacritical marks. Each also closes with cross-references and source citations for further (English-language) reading. The first volume opens with alphabetical and topical lists of articles; the second closes with an extensive glossary and a comprehensive index. Maps are rare, and the only illustrations are a few small and usually murky black-and-white photos. Though the main focus is on events in the Middle East and North Africa, several articles‚ notably nine pages for Mongols and nearly four for military medicine, medieval Islamic‚ look further afield. Many conceptual essays at least try to present judicious discussions, e.g., in jihad, suicide bombings, and others on similar hot-button topics. Current enough to include mention of Osama bin Laden’s demise, this set will be equally valuable as an adjunct to John L. Esposito’s Oxford Encyclopedia of the Islamic World (2009) or an extension of Juan E. Campo’s shorter Encyclopedia of Islam (Facts On File, 2009). BOTTOM LINE Despite the paucity of maps and other illustrations, Mikaberidze’s work will provide high school and college-level researchers with generous measures of hard-to-find information on a (sadly) enduring theme.‚ John Peters, formerly with NYPL

Haywood, John. The New Atlas of World History: Global Events at a Glance. Princeton Univ. Dec. 2011. 252p. illus. maps. index. ISBN 9780691152691. $49.50. REF
The 55 world maps and corresponding time lines in Haywood’s (honorary research fellow, history, Lancaster Univ.; Great Migrations) oversized reference work chronicle history from prehistoric times (read: the Ice Age and Paleolithic humans) to 2010 C.E. Each map and time line has a brief summation describing notable global events occurring around the map’s title year. In addition to showing changing national boundaries, the full-spread color maps display population type (e.g., hunter/gatherer, industrial), the population of the era’s five largest cities, historic trade routes, and other human interactions. The two-page multithread time line that follows each map covers art and architecture, the sciences, religion, and politics, revealing what was being invented then and what was occurring in divergent areas. Small photos of people, inventions, and locations throughout the time line illustrate significant events; a graph notes the historic population. Slight overlap in time lines is initially confusing‚ at first glance, the one for World War II appears to show the atomic bomb being dropped before it was invented, for example. BOTTOM LINE Although this book does not have a great deal of depth, it presents a valuable picture of human development and will be useful to academic and public libraries, though those owning Patrick O’Brien’s Atlas of World History (Oxford Univ., 2010) or Hermann Kinder and Werner Hilgemann’s The Penguin Atlas of World History (2003) might not see the need.‚ Jim Langan, Univ. of Pittsburgh at Johnstown

Robertson, Patrick. Robertson’s Book of Firsts: Who Did What for the First Time. Bloomsbury, dist. by Macmillan. Nov. 2011. c.576p. ISBN 9781596915794. $35. REF
Targeting firsts that have had an impact on world society and culture, Robertson’s (Shell Book of Firsts; Film Facts) work represents more than 50 years of dedicated research. The A-to-Z entries cover a wide range of topics and result in enjoyable browsing. Readers will learn, for example, that the first popcorn was not, as legend has it, introduced to the pilgrims by friendly native Americans but probably brought to the United States by early American sailors returning from Chile and that the first subway (1863) was London’s four-mile Metropolitan Railway, which is now part of the London Underground. BOTTOM LINE This informative and entertaining one-volume ready-reference tool is presented at a price that makes it well worth consideration. It is more exhaustive than Joseph Kane’s Famous First Facts, which limits its focus to the United States. Recommended for high school and public library history buffs, fact fanatics, or casual readers with an interest in noteworthy achievements.‚ Bobbie Wrinkle, McCracken Cty. P.L., Paducah, KY


Encyclopedia of World Writers: 1800 to the Present. Facts On File. 2011. 704p. ed. by Marie Josephine Diamond. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780816082049. $85. Online: Infobase eBooks REF
Diamond (French comparative literature, Rutgers; Women: Revolution and Global Expression) here provides a nine-page introduction tracing the political and social changes‚ colonialism, romanticism, decadence, totalitarianism, and globalization‚ that have affected world literature since 1800. The main body includes more than 330 alphabetically arranged entries on writers from countries other than the United States, Britain, and Ireland, composed with attention to specific titles; literatures and literary movements are also examined. Coverage of some authors takes the form of short, critical analyses such as comments on themes, particular subjects addressed in their writings, and lessons they strive to impart. References to additional works and biographies of the author close the entries. Helpful additions include a chronological list of authors profiled; a list of geographical areas represented; a 20-page bibliography; and an extensive index that encompasses authors, genres, specific titles, and literary movements. BOTTOM LINE Several years more recent than Frank N. Magill and Tracy Irons Georges’s Cyclopedia of World Authors (4th rev. ed., Salem, 2004) and Tracy Chevalier’s Contemporary World Writers (2d ed., St. James Pr., 1993), this work is a good starting point for high school and college students undertaking literary research about these emerging world writers, many of whom are not easily defined as nationals of a particular country.‚ Marilyn Lary, San Bernardino, CA


Gates, Alexander E. & Robert P. Blauvelt. Encyclopedia of Pollution. 2 vols. Facts On File. 2011. 768p. illus. maps. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780816070022. $170. Online: Infobase eBooks REF
Gates (Ph.D., environmental sciences, Virginia Polytechnic Inst.; Encyclopedia of Earthquakes) and Blauvelt (senior vice president, Environmental Waste Management Assocs.) provide a balanced view of sensitive topics, outlining the historic background on the use of pollutants and environmentally detrimental policies. The 300 detailed, easily accessible entries range from two to eight pages in length and cover human-made and natural pollution events, environmentalists, environmental groups, harmful contaminants, and related subjects. Unfortunately, some expected topics are not covered, such as the increased mining of bituminous sands, and the entry for hydrofracturing (fracing) barely mentions oil extraction. Informative color diagrams and photographs provide clear examples of topics including deforestation and the side effects of chemical exposure. Twelve essays by the editors appear throughout and address topics such as epidemiology and pollution from space shuttle launches, dry cleaning, and cemeteries; these and the entries are each accompanied by a short further- reading list. Helpful appendixes include a list of acronyms, a chronology of pollution events, a glossary, a bibliography of print and web resources, and EPA standards. BOTTOM LINE Although a number of encyclopedias focus on air, water, and soil pollution, this publication affords a broader view of a topic that’s frequently covered in school reports. A worthwhile reference for high school students and the general public.‚ Susanne Caro, Univ. of Montana Lib., Missoula

social sciences

Burgess, Susan. The New York Times on Gay and Lesbian Issues. CQ Pr. (TimesReference, Vol. 5). 2011. 480p. index. ISBN 9781604265934. $49. Online: CQ Press Online Resources REF
Burgess (political science, women’s & gender studies, Ohio Univ.; The Founding Fathers, Pop Culture, and Constitutional Law) presents a useful selection of articles, letters, editorials, op-ed pieces, and columns from the New York Times pertaining to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) issues. The wide variety of topics covered includes the Stonewall uprising, AIDS, civil rights, same-gender marriage, and coming out. Despite frequent use of the term LGBT, transgender and especially bisexual people are seldom addressed. Essays opening each section provide in-depth overviews of each topic, along with context and analysis. Particularly useful to novice researchers are the lists of references that follow each topical essay, including items from the Times and other sources. While the book lacks a comprehensive chronology of important people and events, selections from the newspaper are arranged chronologically within each section. Unfortunately, few pieces predate the 1960s, reflecting the Times‘s sparse coverage of homosexuality before then. Brief In Focus sections highlight historically significant people and events. BOTTOM LINE This useful collection of primary documents is well suited to under graduate students beginning their research on gay and lesbian history and issues.‚ Martha Hardy, Metropolitan State Univ. Lib., Saint Paul

Encyclopedia of South Africa. Lynne Rienner. 2011. c.400p. ed. by Krista Johnson & Sean Jacobs. photogs. maps. index. ISBN 9781588267498. $95. REF
Johnson (international relations, Agnes Scott Coll.; Returning to South Africa ) and Jacobs’s (Afro-American & African studies, Univ. of Michigan; Thabo Mbeki’s World ) concise encyclopedia, written by an international team of academics and specialists in South African studies, covers the history, politics, culture, and society of South Africa. Approximately 300 articles describe the country from prehistory to the present, with an emphasis on the postindependence era. Most are short, unsigned, and unsourced pieces; 50 longer surveys include women in politics, music, and education. The majority list sources, though some major ones, such as economy, fail to do so. While much of the material will be accessible to a general audience, some, such as that on, e.g., the country’s political economy, is academic and demands specialized knowledge. Readers will also encounter unevenness in the presentation: Xhosa, for instance, describes the process of impoverishment of that people without providing an explanation of how or why it happened. On the other hand, Shula Marks’s British Imperialism and Settler Colonialism shines a powerful light on its subject, even if it’s without sources. Coverage is broad but not complete. Case in point: there is an article on Mozambique but none on Angola, and Angolan war information is lacking. Only one map is provided, and the murky stock photographs add little. There are a few inaccuracies in the appended time line, and a Timeline of Racial and Apartheid Legislation ends in 1967. BOTTOM LINE Owing to its distinctive coverage and since the accuracy of the information is significantly better than that in John Middleton’s Encyclopedia of Africa South of the Sahara (Scribner’s, 1997), public and high school libraries should buy this encyclopedia. ‚ Sue Giffard, Ethical Culture Fieldston Sch., New York

Hanley-Maxwell, Cheryl & Lana Collet-Klingenberg. Education. 360p. ISBN 9781412986908.>Mullner, Ross M. Health and Medicine. 368p. ISBN 9781412981101. ea. vol: SAGE. (Disability: Key Issues & Future Directions). 2011. ed. by Gary L. Albrecht. bibliog. index. $70. Online: SAGE Reference OnlineREF
Hanley-Maxwell (rehabilitation & special education, Univ. of Wisconsin) and Collet-Klingenberg (special education, Univ. of Wisconsin) in Education and Mullner (health policy & administration, Univ. of Illinois) in Health introduce and provide background on their specific fields as they relate to disabilities. The titles then provide six chapters each on current issues, controversies, and solutions; a chronology of critical events; biographies of key contributors in the field; an annotated list of data, statistics, tables, and graphs, and one of organizations and associations; and a list of selected print and electronic resources. Each book ends with a glossary of key terms and an index to the volume. Taken together, the chronologies from the two books present a broad view of the history of disability. The biographies are useful for students needing information on seldom-covered figures. BOTTOM LINE Presented in lay-reader-friendly language, these volumes are sufficient for public library and under graduate users, while more advanced researchers and students will benefit from the references to additional sources. Parents, educators, and others working with the disabled will appreciate the material on the current state of the field, along with the three chapters of resources and data. ‚ Sara Rofofsky Marcus, Queensborough Community Coll. Lib., Bayside, NY

Multicultural America: An Encyclopedia of the Newest Americans. 4 vols. Greenwood. 2011. 1800p. ed. by Ronald H. Bayor. photogs. maps. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780313357862. $380. Online: ABC-CLIO eBook Collection REF
Bayor (history, Georgia Inst. of Technology) oversees 50 alphabetically arranged entries by individual scholars, each focused on an immigrant group. The 30- to 60-page surveys, a handful of which are updates from Greenwood’s New Americans series, are divided into seven major categories that cover geography and history; immigration, especially after 1965; demographics; the group’s adjustment and adaptation to the United States and their impact on this country; second and later generations; and issues between the United States and the country of origin. Bibliographies, recommendations for further reading, and sidebars of immigrant voices are included. These are articles of depth and substance, and while cash-strapped libraries already owning the shorter Encyclopedia of American Immigration (Salem, 2010) may find that set sufficient, this title is superior; the more accessible ebook version will be even better. BOTTOM LINE Bayor’s work is informative and critical at a time of world compression and is essential for academic, large public, and, ideally, high school libraries.‚ Lura Sanborn, St. Paul’s Sch., Concord, NH

New Strategist Pbns. Eds. Who We Are. 2d ed. 3 vols. New Strategist. 2011. 884p. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781935775379. $325; pap. ISBN 9781935775386. $245. Online: ProQuest, Gale, Bloomberg REF
Essentially, these volumes are catalogs of demographic statistics regarding the three largest minority groups within the United States. In each book, ten chapters list in alphabetical order the numbers concerning attitudes, education, health, housing, income, labor force, living arrangements, population, spending, time use, and wealth. Tables and graphs are interspersed with analysis as to what the numbers mean, with headings such as Income of Black Households by Region, 2009. Raw data comes mainly from U.S. government agencies such as the Census Bureau (the most cited source) and the National Center for Health Statistics, and this makes the volumes an abridged version of the aforementioned bureau’s Statistical Abstract of the United States. Each table or chart is helpfully accompanied by a source listing, and each volume includes a bibliography listing all sources by agency. Unfortunately, there is no information on the editors’ credentials. BOTTOM LINE Despite this niche publication’s narrow focus, there are other contenders in the field, notably Bernan Press’s State Profiles series. The set will be most appropriate for specialized locales, such as a state demographer’s office, corporate libraries of merchandisers, and academic libraries supporting economics and sociology students.‚ Michael F. Bemis, Minnesota Dept. of Corrections, Oak Park

Spitzer, Robert J. & Glenn H. Utter. Encyclopedia of Gun Control & Gun Rights. 2d ed.Grey House. 2011. 600p. photogs. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781592376728. $165. Online: Ebrary, Gale, MYILibrary, NetLibrary, OverDrive, InfoBase EBooks REF
Utter (political science, Lamar Univ.) and Spitzer (political science, SUNY, Cortland) present 338 alphabetically arranged articles on gun control and gun rights primarily in the United States, although some entries discuss other places. Front matter includes an introductory essay and a guide to selected topics. Entries address a wide range of topics: people, organizations, court cases, constitutional amendments, state laws, foreign countries, publications, etc. Each is followed by a further-reading list. After these are primary-source documents and appendixes (state constitutional gun rights provisions and laws, a list of organizations, and a bibliography). Andrew J. McClurg and others’ Gun Control and Gun Rights (NYU Pr., 2002) has a more limited scope, providing multiple viewpoints on the issues and covering legal cases, hunting stories, public policy briefs, and journalistic accounts. BOTTOM LINE Utter and Spitzer’s valuable and comprehensive work is recommended for collections serving individuals interested in firearms, political science, sociology, and legal issues.‚ Patrick Owens, Central Washington Univ. Lib., Ellensburg

Henrietta Verma About Henrietta Verma

Henrietta Verma is Senior Editorial Communications Specialist at NISO, the National Information Standards Organization, Baltimore, and was formerly the reviews editor at Library Journal.