Reference Short Takes, March 1, 2012

City Crime Rankings 2011-2012: Crime in Metropolitan America. SAGE. (State Fact Finder). 2011. c.416p. ed. by Kathleen O’Leary Morgan & others. illus. ISBN 9781608717293. pap. $75. REF

Published annually since 2009, this comparative statistics guide now eschews subjective phrases such as safest and most dangerous. Replacing them is information on reported crime as it relates to population, which shifts focus to the city’s quantifiable criminal activity rather than offering judgmental assessments. Following a valuable methodology explanation and definitions of various criminal acts, O’Leary Morgan and Scott Morgan (co-editors, Education State Rankings), in consultation with Rachel Boba Santos (criminology & criminal justice, Florida Atlantic Univ.; Crime Analysis with Crime Mapping), divide the 2010 statistical details into three major segments: metro area crime, crime within cities of 75,000-plus residents, and urban populations as they compare in 2006, 2009, and 2010. VERDICT Though this material is thorough and useful, it is troubling is that source citations for data are far too infrequent.

Damerow, Gail. The Chicken Encyclopedia: An Illustrated Reference. Storey. 2012. c.320p. illus. index. ISBN 9781603425612. pap. $19.95. REF

Damerow (Chicken Health Handbook) draws on her extensive farming experience to fill this term guide with essential knowledge. Organized alphabetically by term, it covers topics such as anatomy, breeds, coop components, and health problems. Full-color breed illustrations, along with detailed line drawings, such as one depicting how to determine an egg’s age from its position when placed in water, add both visual appeal and substantive information. Tables ease comprehension of complicated subjects like predator identification. VERDICT Recommended as a quick reference, this is not a how-to book and will best accompany another of Damerow’s guides, Storey’s Guide to Raising Chickens.

Freedom House. Nations in Transit 2011: Democratization from Central Europe to Eurasia. Rowman & Littlefield. 2011. c.625p. illus. ISBN 9781442213494. pap. $80. Online: ebrary, MyiLibrary, NetLibrary, Overdrive, & Questia REF

This update of a resource published every two years since 1995 relates the critical, defining shifts occurring within 29 countries between 2009 and early 2011. It offers World Bank nation data and a compilation of the research of 37 field specialists, whose 29 chapter-long essays are divided by standard subheadings such as Electoral Process, Independent Media, and Corruption. Freedom House’s by-year, comparative scoring, starting with 2002, allows for quick assessment of each nation’s political course. While the book lacks a general bibliography, each essay closes with extensive endnotes indicating specific source titles. VERDICT A noteworthy reference for world politics collections.

Golla, Victor. California Indian Languages. Univ. of California. 2011. c.400p. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780520266674. $90. REF

Golla (anthropology, Humboldt State Univ.) deftly presents 150 years’ worth of study and documentation of California’s 78 indigenous languages. Focusing on the structure of more than two dozen of them, he presents a California-specific history of linguistic analyses, a history of the study of California languages, an unpacking of familial language groupings, geographically comparable language features, and an exploration of linguistic prehistory. A 50-page bibliography offers a wealth of research leads. VERDICT Bringing together the linguistic records of explorers and missionaries, as well as the research of anthropologists Alfred Kroeber, John P. Harrington, and C. Hart Merriam, this is an essential reference for linguistics collections.

Hunter, Luke (text) & Priscilla Barrett (illus.). Carnivores of the World. Princeton Univ. (Princeton Field Guides). 2011. c.240p. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780691152271. $75; pap. ISBN 9780691152288. $29.95. REF

Hunter (president, Panthera; Cats of Africa) opens this field guide with an extended definition of mammalian carnivores and a diagram of the order’s family tree, dating to the Paleocene era. The 245 entries detail common and Latin name, height, weight, physical description, geographical location and habitat, food preferences, and social behavior. Spectacular full-color illustrations by Barrett (Mammals of Europe), sometimes showing customary behaviors or including depictions of cubs, accompany each entry and beautifully clarify textual descriptions. Skull and footprint diagrams, relegated to the back, would be better positioned beside associated entries. VERDICT Currently the most up-to-date subject guide available.

Canadian Almanac & Directory. 165th ed. Grey House. 2011. c.1936p. index. ISBN 9781592377695. $350. REF

Now in its 165th year, this robust volume offers copious leads for those researching Canadian businesses, organizations, and government contacts. The opening segment‚ providing a historical chronology; province flags, shields, and flowers; governor general and prime minister portraits; recent population statistics; and significant topographical points‚ adds educational interest. The main body of the directory is divided into 17 broad, alphabetized sections, covering arts and culture, municipal administration, religion, sports, transportation, utilities, etc. Information is organized within each segment either by province or subject specialty. A by-name index eases location of specific firms, offices, and organizations. VERDICT Nearly one-stop information shopping.

Profiles of Illinois: History, Statistics, Demographics for 1,436 Populated Places in Illinois Including Comparative Statistics and Rankings. Grey House. 2011. c.678p. illus. ISBN 9781592377732. pap. $149. Online: ebrary, GVRL, MyiLibrary, NetLibrary, & Overdrive REF

This third edition of a guide first published in 2005 has been fully updated to provide the most accurate statistical information. The material is presented in eight segments, including sections covering population ancestry facts, state educational rankings, and a 35-page section on climate. Still, the bulk of the book is devoted to county profiles, offering half-page overviews of county history and local government contacts along with short statistical sketches of each county’s cities, towns, and villages. These quarter-page community outlines detail population, economy, median income, taxes, education, housing, and transportation statistics. VERDICT An important tool for policymakers and researchers.

Working Americans 1880‚ 2011. Vol. XII: Our History Through Music. Grey House. 2011. c.514p. ed. by Scott Derks. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781592377626. $150. Online: ebrary, GVRL, MyiLibrary, NetLibrary, & Overdrive REF

This music-specific history is organized chronologically, using individuals’ lives as windows into each era. Derks (Value of a Dollar) divides the book’s contents into 12 chapters, each with three profiles. These focus on previously under-recognized musicians, such as 1890s singer Joshua Hamilton and 1950s jazz arranger Gil Evans, a move that will broaden readers’ understanding of often narrowly defined popular music history. VERDICT Studded with period photographs and advertisements, bulleted lists of enlightening details, and sidebars containing period magazine articles and diary entries, this is an extraordinary contextual tool for teachers.‚ Savannah Schroll Guz, formerly with Smithsonian Inst. Libs.

About Savannah Schroll Guz

Savannah Schroll Guz, formerly with Smithsonian Libs., Washington, DC