Reference Reviews, February 15, 2012


Phipps, Elena. Looking at Textiles: A Guide to Technical Terms. Getty Museum. 2012. 112p. photogs. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781606060803. pap. $18.95. REF

Phipps, who worked as a textile conservator at the Metropolitan Museum of Art for more than 30 years, expresses in this work her interest in the fibers, weave, and creation of textiles ranging from tapestries in medieval Europe to the silks of China. The slim text offers a surprising multitude of definitions, and its alphabetical glossary of textile terminology, along with large full-color photos on nearly every page, makes it attractive and informative. A selected bibliography provides a useful extension to fabric study. Textbooks such as Billie J. Collier, Martin Bide, and Phyllis G. Tortora’s Understanding Textiles (7th ed., 2008) and Sara J. Kadolph’s Textiles (11th ed.)‚ both from Prentice Hall‚ are oversized and very comprehensive but not as detailed as this title. VERDICT Archivists and artists interested in the technical scholarship, conservation, or curatorial fields of textiles and in the ways textiles are produced from one culture to another will appreciate this straightforward presentation.‚ Laverne Mann, Piscataway P.L., NJ

Performing Arts

starred review starThe Wiley-Blackwell History of American Film. 4 vols. Wiley. 2012. 2464p. ed. by Cynthia Lucia & others. photogs. index. ISBN 9781405179843. $595. REF

Lucia (English & film & media studies, Rider Univ.; Framing Female Lawyers: Women on Trial in Film), Roy Grundmann (film studies, Boston Univ.; Andy Warhol’s Blow Job), and Art Simon (film studies, Montclair State Univ.; Dangerous Knowledge: The JFK Assassination in Art and Film) have created an outstanding collection of 90 new essays chronologically examining the history of American film. The books open with an introduction to the time period covered and include a brief explanation for the set’s arrangement. For example, Volume 3 covers 1946‚ 75, and the introduction notes that 1975 saw the release of Taxi Driver, a film discussed in several essays, easily found using the index, and referred to by Simon as the last urban road film of the era. The high-quality essays feature eye-catching titles such as Pink-Slipped: What Happened to the Women in the Silent Film Industry?, The Gun in the Briefcase; Or, the Inscription of Class in Film Noir, and Let ‘Em Have It: The Ironic Fate of the 1930s Gangster. They provide a comprehensive and multifaceted overview of American film from its beginnings, covering political, cultural, social, and economic factors such as the Great Depression and World War II; the studio system; the black list; changing audiences; and race, class, and gender. In addition, there is a strong focus on the multitude of elements of film, such as production, distribution, camera techniques, lighting, editing, use of voice-overs, mise-en-scène, etc. VERDICT The physical volumes are attractive, though the approximately 200 black-and-white photos are insignificant to the value of the collection. Access is enhanced by a 37-page index. Highly recommended for lovers of film, film history, and American culture.‚ Susan L. Peters, Univ. of Texas, Galveston


Encyclopedia of Mathematics and Society. 3 vols. Salem. 2011. 1191p. ed. by Sarah J. Greenwald & Jill E. Thomley. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781587658440. $395. Online: Salem Science REF

Unlike standard mathematical reference works, in which the emphasis is on numbers and how to manipulate them, Green wald and Thomley (both mathematics, Appalachian State Univ.) focus on how the basic concepts of figures relate to everyday life. As the editors phrase it, the purpose of these compact volumes is to weave multilayered connections between society, history, people, applications, and mathematics. For example, among the 478 clear, concise 500- to 3500-word articles is Ballroom Dancing, which explains that Dancing allows students to approach mathematics in a variety of ways, from the basic arithmetic of the beats per minute (bpm) to the geometric spatial relationship with respect to the other dancers. Other surprising topics covered include Cooking, Earthquakes, Mathematics and Religion, and Skydiving. While some purely mathematical principles are discussed, they are always placed in relation to the larger context of human affairs, such as in the essay Algebra in Society. Pieces open with boldface headword(s), a classification of the subject matter, and a one-line summary of the material to follow. A short bibliography and cross-references follow. Purchase of the print set entitles users to online access to the entire contents. The List of Contributors is made up primarily of academics, with a sprinkling of independent scholars. VERDICT This enlightening, well-written set, which has no current competitors, is highly recommended for all public and academic libraries.‚ Michael Bemis,ÔøΩWashington Cty. Lib., R.H. Stafford Branch, Woodbury, MN

The following titles are reviewed in the February 15 print issue. Visit our Reviews Center (Beta) for the full reviews.


World War II at Sea: An Encyclopedia. 2 vols. ABC-CLIO. 2011. 751p. ed. by Spencer C. Tucker. photogs. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781598844573. $189. Online: ABC-CLIO eBook Collection REF


Carlson, John W. Words of Wisdom: A Philosophical Dictionary for the Perennial Tradition. Univ. of Notre Dame, dist. by Univ. of Chicago. 2011. c.320p. bibliog. ISBN 9780268023706. pap. $45. Online: REF

Cook, Rhodes. America Votes 29: Election Returns By State. CQ Pr. 2011. 552p. illus. maps. ISBN 9781608717385. $225. REF

History of American Presidential Elections, 1789‚ 2008. 4th ed. 3 vols. Facts On File. 2011. 2368p. ed. by Gil Troy & others. illus. maps. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780816082209. $225. Online: Infobase eBooks REF

Infectious Diseases & Conditions. 3 vols. Salem. (Salem Health). 2011. 1200p. ed. by Bradford H. Hawley. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781587657764. $395. Online: Salem Health REF

Women and Mental Disorders. 4 vols. Praeger. 2011. 581p. ed. by Paula K. Lundberg-Love & others. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780313393198. $215. Online: ABC-CLIO eBook Collection REF

Social Sciences

Dictionary of African Biography. 6 vols. Oxford Univ. 2011. c.200p. ed. by Emmanuel K. Akyeampong & Henry Louis Gates Jr. photogs. index. ISBN 9780195382075. $995. REF

Oxford University Press. Oxford African American Studies Center. 2012. REF

Women Criminals: An Encyclopedia of People and Issues. 2 vols. ABC-CLIO. 2011. 752p. ed. by Vickie Jensen. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780313337130. $189. Online: ABC-CLIO eBook Collection REF

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.