Political Reference Shelf, December 2011

Baldino, Thomas J. & Kyle L. Kreider. U.S. Election Campaigns: A Documentary and Reference Guide. Greenwood. 2011. 280p. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780313353048. $100. Online: ABC-CLIO eBook Collection REF
Rather than covering debates, primaries, backroom deals, and issues as readers might expect, Baldino and Kreider (both political science, Wilkes Univ.) focus on campaign financing and the governmental and judicial efforts to control it. Chapters, arranged chronologically from the 19th century through 2010, open with an essay; provide documents from the time including legislation, court decisions, and analysis; and close with print and/or online further-reading suggestions. Sidebars offer additional information such as relevant court decisions and events of the time. The many sidebars and documents are listed in the front of the book by chapter and in a reader’s guide that groups them in categories such as Corrupt Campaign Practices and Scandals, Court Decisions‚ Corporate Rights, and Executive Orders. The text is mostly easy to read; however, experience with reading case law and legislation may be helpful. BOTTOM LINE A good reference for users interested in the financial facets of election campaigns.‚ Beth Bland, Milwaukee

Battleground: Government and Politics. 2 vols. Greenwood. (Battleground). 2011. 700p. ed. by Kathleen Uradnik & others. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780313343131. $189. Online: ABC-CLIO eBook Collection REF
Uradnik (political science, St. Cloud State Univ.), Lori A. Johnson (political science, Mercer Univ.), and Sara Hower (international relations & American government, St. Cloud State Univ.) provide a catalog of controversies in which Uncle Sam is caught in the middle. In 75 well-written essays, divisive issues such as abortion, campaign-finance reform, and the death penalty are examined in detail. Subsections in each essay offer historical background, arguments for and against the issue at hand, a discussion of laws and Supreme Court rulings (if any) affecting the debate, and a concluding section that attempts to peer into the future. A generous print and online further-reading list is appended to each signed essay. Competition abounds for this particular subject matter; Greenhaven Press publishes the similar At Issue, Current Controversies and Opposing Viewpoints series, not to mention Greenwood’s own competitor, Glenn H. Utter’s stand-alone Culture Wars in America: A Documentary and Reference Guide (2010), but those titles are for a slightly younger audience. BOTTOM LINE This is a solidly written, editorially balanced, and well-researched set. Particularly appealing are the sidebar articles highlighting current events that pertain to the discussion at hand, such as the item on worm warfare in the chapter on cyberterrorism. A solid choice for public and academic libraries.‚ Michael Bemis, Washington Cty. Lib., St. Paul, MN

Cities in American Political History. CQ Pr. 2011. 625p. ed. by Richardson Dilworth. illus. index. ISBN 9780872899117. $165. Online: CQ Press Electronic Library REF
Dilworth (political science, Drexel Univ.) collects histories of Albany, NY; Baltimore; Boston; Buffalo; Charleston, SC; Chicago; Cincinnati; Cleveland; Dallas; Detroit; Gloucester, MA; Houston, TX; Los Angeles; Marblehead, MA; New Orleans; New York; Newport, RI; Philadelphia; Phoenix; Pittsburg; Providence; Richmond, VA; St. Louis; Salem, MA; San Antonio; San Diego; San Francisco; San Jose, CA; and Washington, DC. His volume will be helpful for those who need to examine prominent locations with a focus on government, politics, industry, race, and immigration. Chapters (e.g., Cities in the Revolutionary Era, Cities in the Neoliberal Era) open with an overview that offers historic context for the city entries that follow, which include quick facts about the mayors, major employers, newspapers, and events of the time. Each entry is an essay following the same format. While this does not lead to easy comparisons, quick facts and a chronology in the back of the book allow for easier comparisons of how cities changed and populations moved over time. The connections to national policy and the overall influence of these urban centers are mainly shown through the actions of congressmen whose roles are briefly mentioned. BOTTOM LINE This work is interesting and unusual in the way it combines histories of major cities. The information on the larger cities is available in individual histories such as Linda Shopes and others’ The Baltimore Book: New Views of Local History and Edwin G. Burrows and Mike Wallace’s Gotham: A History of New York City to 1898. Still, since it discusses some lesser-covered urban areas, this will be helpful as a supportive reference for high school and college students needing an overview of urban American history.‚ Susanne Caro, Univ. of Montana Lib., Missoula

Encyclopedia of Social Networks. 2 vols. SAGE. 2011. 1112p. ed. by George A. Barnett. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781412979115. $315. Online: SAGE Reference Online REF
Barnett (communication, Univ. of California) focuses on types of social organizational structures and their different ways of functioning in a broad survey of networks past and present. The approximately 350 alphabetically arranged entries by a large slate of academic contributors explore in moderately dense detail widespread networks such as Facebook and the UN; special interest communities such as those created by mothers, gamers, dieters, deviants, and gangs; networking technology; privacy and other cogent issues; traditional networks based on kinship, religion, politics, and economics; and the theory, concepts, and general practice of network analysis. Each article ends with multiple cross-references and generous if scholarly reading lists, supplemented by a select multimedia guide to further sources. Despite some articles that fill in deeper historical background, the emphasis here is on recent examples, particularly those dependent on the mother of all networks, the Internet, and other infrastructure of the Information Age. The scattered diagrams and black-and-white photos qualify as little more than afterthoughts, and the decision to profile all 50 states and more than 125 countries in separate articles adds little to the discourse. The index in the second volume is adequate though not comprehensive. BOTTOM LINE From AARP to zines, the set covers a vast array of fields and topics and is current enough to include references to roles played by social media in the 2011 uprisings in Northern Africa. The online version of this title features color illustrations, dozens of media clips, and at least a capacity for regular updates. A significant update to the material in the print version of Subhasish Dasgupta’s Encyclopedia of Virtual Communities and Technologies (Idea Group, 2006) for college-level study.‚ John Peters, Bronx, NY

International Encyclopedia of Political Science. 8 vols.SAGE. 2011. 4032p. ed. by Bertrand Badie & others. index. ISBN 9781412959636. $990. Online: SAGE Reference Online REF
The work of an international legion of over 600 contributors was shepherded by Badie (political science & international relations, Sciences Po, Paris), Dirk Berg-Schlosser (political science, Philipps-Univ., Marburg, Germany), and Leonardo Morlino (political science, Libera Univ. Internazionale degli Studi Sociali, Rome). This massive resource offers a comprehensive examination of the topics and empirical principles related to politics. Arranged in a single alphabet, the approximately 700 articles, complemented by occasional diagrams, range in scope from cabinets and cohort analysis to War and Peace and in length from about 1800 to 12,000 words. Each article is furnished with myriad further-reading recommendations and cross-references; each volume boasts topical and alphabetical article lists and a complete index. Aside from summary articles on major religions, a few biographical entries on theorists such as Niccol √≤Machiavelli and Max Weber, and a series of articles viewing democracy from various perspectives, the contents display a technical slant more suitable for serious academic study than casual enquiry. On the other hand, sufficiently motivated nonspecialists will find rewarding introductions to generally useful tools for research and analysis‚ from structural equation modeling and data visualization to thick description‚ as well as insights into individual and collective human psychology, political methodologies from Maoism to caudillismo, and current thinking about such nebulous concepts as peace, justice, and concept formation. BOTTOM LINE The more digestible, if narrowly focused, articles in George Thomas Kurian’s The Encyclopedia of Political Science (CQ Pr., 2010) include greater measures of historical and biographical background and guide general readers in search of specific case studies of politics in action either to the likes of Cathal J. Nolan’s Greenwood Encyclopedia of International Relations (2002) or daily newspapers. Readers wanting deeper analysis, though, and far more international coverage, will do better with this set. Wide of scope, scholarly in approach, and focused on theory, this merits consideration as a foundation stone for all academic collections supporting advanced studies in political science.‚ John Peters, Bronx, NY

Sharp, Gene. Sharp’s Dictionary of Power and Struggle: Language of Civil Resistance in Conflicts. Oxford Univ. 2011. 368p. ISBN 9780199829880. pap. $19.95. REF
Sharp (political science, Univ. of Massachusetts; Waging Nonviolent Struggle) is one of the leading experts on nonviolent struggle, and his book will be of particular interest to Americans today, as it reflects some of the methods used in the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations. The author seeks to clarify aspects of civil resistance while describing the core elements of nonviolent action in the definitions of political systems, methods, concepts, and ideologies throughout the world. Accompanying these 1000 definitions are an essay on power and realism and case studies of the Serbian and Tunisian struggles. There are references to additional readings and a list of 198 methods of nonviolent action. BOTTOM LINE Critical to everyone interested in social struggles and those who choose to assert themselves non violently, this is essential for high school, college, and public library collections, law-enforcement ready-reference shelves, and protest organizers.‚ Marilyn S. Lary, San Bernardino, CA

Slomp, Hans. Europe, a Political Profile: An American Companion to European Politics. 2 vols. ABC-CLIO. 2011. c.868p. illus. maps. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780313391811. $189. Online: ABC-CLIO eBook Collection REF
Slomp (politics, Radboud Univ., Holland) describes the political system in each European country. Volume 1, an update of his European Politics into the Twenty-First Century (Praeger, 2000), identifies what European nations have in common politically and includes such chapters as Politics: Basic Concepts, The European Experience: A Historical Note, and European Liberals Are Not American Liberals: The European Ideologies. Volume 2 examines the political climate in each country, with entries arranged geographically, northeast to southeast, and grouped by area (such as British Isles, Scandinavia, and Balkan Peninsula). Countries with longer histories of democratic politics typically have the longest entries. Worth noting is this line from the preface of Volume 2: Almost all information contained in the country profiles is available on [ sic] Internet; mostly Wikipedia has served as the first source (the author claims that it offers information that is not available elsewhere). This position is reaffirmed in the Sources and Further Reading section: The best two starting points for research on European politics are Wikipedia and‚Ķthe CIA World Factbook. BOTTOM LINE While the idea of providing a guide to European politics for Americans is solid and useful, the first volume is no more than an update of a previously published title, and Wikipedia serves as the primary source of material for Volume 2. Not recommended.‚ Lura Sanborn, St. Paul’s Sch., Hopkinton, NH

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.