Reference Reviews, November 15, 2011


Tucci, Paul A. The Handy Personal Finance Answer Book. Visible Ink. (Handy Answer Book). 2011. 400p. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781578593224. pap. $19.95. REF
Investment banker Tucci (The Handy Geography Answer Book) provides answers to questions from What is a bond? to Do people spend more money on overdraft fees or vegetables during the course of a year? Accessible and easy to use, the book divides questions into topics and subtopics among nine different chapters, covering basic banking, investments, loans, insurance, taxes, planning your financial future, and how to survive a financial crisis. Some of the facts discussed are interesting, such as the origin of the term blue-chip stock (from the color of the highest-valued chips in some card games), and the further reading listed in the back matter is useful. BOTTOM LINE While this title is factually accurate, it does not add new insights and lacks the depth and personal touches of other works. Still, it will appeal to beginners in personal finance, and it is a good reference for those who want unencumbered basics.‚ Dawn Lowe-Wincentsen, Oregon Inst. of Technology Lib., Portland


The Comparative Guide to American Hospitals. 3d ed. 4 vols. Grey House. 2011. c.1896p. ed. by David Garoogian. index. ISBN 9781592378388. pap. $325. Online: Ebrary, Gale, MyILibrary, NetLibrary, OverDrive REF
Reporting and ranking 4,693 acute care facilities, this title combines data from the federal study Hospital Compare ( with the publisher’s Directory of Hospital Personnel (2011). Using patient surveys, the 49 quality measures of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, original Medicare medical imaging claims, and Hospital Care Quality Information from the Consumer Perspective survey data, the title provides basic statistics, full administrative contact information, hospital readmission rates, facility mortality rates, and a glossary. Although the American Hospital Association’s AHA Guide, 2012 (2011) has 1800 more entries and the same basic information, this title provides additional data concerning patient care of the following critical conditions: heart attack, heart failure, pneumonia, children’s asthma, chest pain, and surgical care. (Stroke care ratings would be a welcome addition.) Available for individual purchase, each volume covers a geographical region: Eastern (ISBN 9781592378395), Southern (ISBN 9781592378401), Central (ISBN 9781592378418), and Western (ISBN 9781592378425). Information is current to the most recent surveys available, and entries cover facilities from the 25-bed Ozark Health (Clinton, AR) to the 2,344-bed New York Presbyterian Hospital. The volume for the southern region includes Puerto Rico; however, Guam has been excluded. Despite the small print, the charts are easy to read, and the entries are rich in information. BOTTOM LINE This work will be useful to anyone in need of a hospital directory and quality ranking information. It is well worth the cost, and libraries have the option of purchasing only the volumes most appropriate for their patrons.‚ Laurie Selwyn, formerly with Grayson Cty. Law Lib., Sherman, TX


A Cultural History of Food. 6 vols. Berg Pubs. Jan. 2012. c.1728p. ed. by Fabio Parasecoli & Peter Scholliers. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781847883551. $550. Online: Credo Reference REF
Parasecoli (food studies, New Sch.; Food Culture in Italy) and Scholliers (contemporary history, Vrije Universiteit Brussel) cover all aspects of food from antiquity to modern times. The volumes include chapters on food production and systems as well as safety, security, and crises; food politics; eating out; professional cooking, kitchens, and service work; family and domesticity; body and soul; food representations; and world developments. The set is illustrated with 52 black-and-white photographs and drawings of related elements and items from food containers to bars. The texts draw on archaeological data, architectural information, literature, and art. BOTTOM LINE This comprehensive history of food is helpfully constructed so readers can learn about food production across time periods or consider every facet of food in a particular period. The volumes are written at a level that is appropriate for both high school libraries as well as academic ones; the set will also be a natural fit in the library of a culinary institute or other specialized food environment.‚ Christine Sharbrough, Derry P.L., Manchester, NH

Great Lives from History: African Americans. 5 vols. Salem. 2011. 1760p. ed. by Carl L. Bankston III. photogs. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781587657474. $595. Online: Salem History Database REF
Bankston (sociology, Tulane Univ.; The Sociology of Katrina: Perspectives on a Modern Catastrophe) details the lives of significant African Americans from the late Colonial period to today. The subject’s significance in history or modern culture, the representation of a wide range of fields and times, relevance to school curricula, and interest to readers make up the criteria for inclusion. The 800 essay-style entries range in length from two to four pages and discuss a range of figures, such as Hank Aaron, Bill Cosby, Beyoncé Knowles, Shirley Chisholm, Crispus Attucks, and Matthew Henson. Readers are presented with vital information and a brief synopsis of the person’s life, followed by the sections Early Life, Life’s Work, and Significance. The entries are written in a readable, concise style, often illustrated with color photos, and conclude with suggestions for further reading and helpful cross-references. The work ends with a chronological list of entries, several bibliographies and listings of other resources, and both a category and a subject index. BOTTOM LINE This is a more digestible competitor to Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham’s African American National Biography (Oxford, 2009), but that set contains several hundred more entries. This work serves as a useful quick reference for supporting patrons researching African Americans in history or modern times.‚ Samantha Schmehl Hines, Univ. of Montana‚ Missoula Lib.

Historical Dictionary of the Olympic Movement. 4th ed. Scarecrow. (Historical Dictionaries of Sports). 2011. 622p. ed. by Bill Mallon with Ian Buchanan. photogs. bibliog. ISBN 9780810872493. $99. Online: NetLibrary, Overdrive, MyiLibrary, EBL, & Questia REF
Mallon, who edited previous editions of this work, and Heijmans, a member of the International Society of Olympic Historians, provide a 60-page opening segment with a brief synopsis of each of the modern Olympic Games, listing where each was held, other cities that competed for the honor, and the course of that particular Olympics. Making up the bulk of the book, the A-to-Z listing describes competitive events and their histories, biographies of selected athletes, organizational leaders, participating and host countries, and others who have contributed to the events. Biographical entries include birth and death information and a brief history of their involvement in the games or behind the scenes. Article length varies from a few sentences to three pages. Although many famous athletes are listed, space constraints limit how many; readers may find that their favorite athlete has not been included. While the book focuses primarily on modern-era games, limited attention is also paid to the ancient Greek competitions; several entries explain the differences between the ancient and the modern games. Appendixes compile statistics on, for example, the number of medals won by each country, positive drug tests, and torch bearers. While the authors strive for impartiality, their affinity for Mark Spitz and Michael Phelps is noticeable. BOTTOM LINE Researchers in both academic and public libraries will find this a useful starting point for Olympic information. Buy it if your budget permits.‚ James Langan, Univ. of Pittsburgh at Johnstown Lib.

World Terrorism: An Encyclopedia of Political Violence from Ancient Times to the Post-9/11 Era. 2d ed. 3 vols. Sharpe Reference: M.E. Sharpe. 2011. 1016p. ed. by James Ciment. photogs. maps. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780765682840. $349. Online: Sharpe Online Reference REF
A wide array of topics on terrorism and counterterrorism is presented within the 200 articles in this revision of the 1997 edition (a two-volume supplement was published in 2003). Ciment (Booms and Busts: An Encyclopedia of Economic History from Tulipmania of the 1630s to the Global Financial Crisis of the 21st Century) organizes material within five major sections: essays that cover the meaning of terrorism; historical global attacks; a special section devoted to 9/11; tactics, methods, and aims; and counterterrorism. While articles are arranged alphabetically within each section, they are not arranged alphabetically across the set, and this makes the index to the printed version essential. The global and historical coverage is impressive, with such articles as Middle East, Middle Ages: Assassins’ cult; pursuit and death of Osama bin Laden, 1998-2011; and terrorist use of the Internet. Special end features include a listing of terrorist groups and individuals. BOTTOM LINE This important title is appropriate for public, school, and academic libraries, even those that own the 1997 set or 2003 supplement.‚ Lura Sanborn, St. Paul’s Sch. Lib., Hopkinton, NH


The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language. 5th ed. Houghton Harcourt. Nov. 2011. 2112p. illus. maps. ISBN 9780547041018. $60. REF
Rewritten to reflect contemporary knowledge and culture, this edition defines some 10,000 new words and senses not in the previous work (2000). Notes on usage, history, synonyms, variations, and changes have been added. Providing both biographical and geographical entries, the dictionary uses quotes to show a word in context as well as for usage guidance. Photographs and illustrations, more than 4000 in all, abound. An essay on Indo-
European and its speakers introduces Appendix 1, which traces the derivations of English words that come from selected Indo-European roots. Appendix 2 is preceded by an essay on proto-Semitic language and culture. The meaning of the Semitic root is given, followed by explanations of words that have that root. Aesthetically, this edition is pleasing; bold, blue entry words contrast sharply with pronunciations, definitions, and usage notes printed in black ink. The slightly older New Oxford American Dictionary (3d ed., Oxford Univ., 2010) is about the same length and is the same price, but its arrangement is slightly different, as it concentrates on the core senses of words. BOTTOM LINE This dictionary is highly recommended for its comprehensiveness, its pleasing layout, and its currency.‚ Marilyn S. Lary, San Bernardino, CA


Kalaitzidis, Akis & Gregory W. Streich. U.S. Foreign Policy: A Documentary and Reference Guide. Greenwood. (Documentary & Reference Guides). 2011. 332p. photogs. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780313383755. $100. Online: ABC-CLIO eBook Collection REF
Kalaitzidis (political science, Univ. of Central Missouri; Europe’s Greece: A Giant in the Making) and Streich (political science, Univ. of Central Missouri; Justice Beyond Just Us: Dilemmas of Time, Place, and Difference in American Politics) detail the evolution of United States foreign policy from the presidencies of George Washington through Barack Obama. Each chapter discusses an era‚ Harry Truman to Lyndon B. Johnson, for example‚ and examines the type of foreign policy to which the leaders of the time adhered. The concepts of regionalism, manifest destiny, isolationism, containment, and liberal realism are among the policies discussed. Complementing the policy discussions are primary documents, sidebars, and occasional black-and-white photographs. The opening reader’s guide to the documents and sidebars will help readers locate items pertinent to a certain subject or concept. The text discusses key players and events throughout, making it easy to consider these topics individually or as a part of the full historical overview. BOTTOM LINE Those interested in the evolution of United States foreign policy or in examining a certain type of policy and its effectiveness will appreciate this well-planned and well-organized book. The primary-source documents will be a great asset to researchers.‚ Annette Haldeman, Dept. of Legislative Svcs. Lib., Annapolis, MD


Fayaz, Ahmed. Encyclopedia of Tropical Plants: The Identification and Cultivation of Over 3000 Tropical Plants. Firefly. 2011. 720p. photogs. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781554074891. $75. REF
One expects great photography in a Firefly title, but more than 3000 color photos in one book‚ yowza! Fayaz (president, Maldivian Wildlife Soc.) presents in this decade-long labor of love the fruit of his lifelong interest in tropical flora. The world’s tropics include not only rainforest but also areas of desert and alpine habitat. The gamut of the flora from all these regions, from mosses to asterids, is covered. Entries are arranged by evolutionary order, instead of alphabetically by genus, to allow for easier identification among related species, which sets this title apart from Alfred Byrd Graf’s Tropica (Roehrs, 1978) and Kirsten Albrecht Llamas’s Tropical Flowering Plants (Timber Pr., 2003). The arrangement is based on molecular plant systematics and the 2009 Angiosperm Phylogency Group classification. There is no prose narrative here other than the introduction. The entry for each species lists the author and publisher of the work in which the plant was first identified; synonyms or common names for the plant; description; range or distribution; ecology notes on habitat, altitude, and phenology; hardiness zones; and other information such as toxicity, ethnobotany, or subspecies. The work also includes a glossary, a list of references, and indexes by botanical and common names. BOTTOM LINE This is likely to become the standard guide for tropical plants. Essential for botany and horticulture students, growers, and researchers. Useful for public libraries in the warmest areas of the United States.‚ Teresa R. Faust, Vermont Dept. of Libs., Berlin

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.