Reference Reviews | April 15, 2012

Political Science

Han, Lori Cox & Tomislav Han. Handbook to American Democracy. 4 vols. Facts On File. 2012. 819p. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780816078547. $220. Online: Infobase eBooks REF

Lori Cox Han (Women and American Politics; Encyclopedia of American Government and Civics) and Tomislav Han address the foundations of American democracy and the three branches of American government. The books introduce offices, history, and issues in eight chapters each (e.g., The Founding Fathers and the American Revolution, How Congress Is Organized, and Vice Presidents, Presidential Advisers, and America’s First Ladies). The material is complemented by black-and-white photos and sidebars on legal cases, laws and legislation, statistics, maps, biographies of major figures such as Henry VIII, and other primary materials, and chapters close with a summary. While the books unfortunately open with the same introduction, they each include an individual glossary, index, selected bibliography, and table of contents. The volumes devoted to branches of the government have similar layouts, enabling comparisons to be drawn easily, although the lack of a comprehensive index to the set will impede research. VERDICT Despite minor problems, this will be valuable to audiences from advanced middle school students to beginning graduate researchers. ‚ Sara Rofofsky Marcus, Bayside, NY

Gardiner, Jim. The Timber Press Encyclopedia of Flowering Shrubs. Timber. 2012. c.436p. photogs. index. ISBN 9780881928235. $49.95. REF

Gardiner (director, horticulture; chief curator, Britain’s Royal Horticultural Soc. gardens) provides compact entries on 2000 plants, listed in alphabetical order by Latin name and indexed by common name and synonym. Each entry includes a full-color photograph of the cultivar’s flowers and foliage and information on its hardiness zone and preferred conditions, bloom time, soil and light requirements, and when to prune. The introduction defines the terms used in the work, clarifying, for example, that early spring means March. The closing Table of Selected Shrubs by Key Design and Cultural Characteristics summarizes and color codes the plants by foliage type, flower color, size, and flowering season and zone and enables users to search by these components. The photographs, all from the author’s personal collection, represent 40 years of work and vividly illustrate the differences between the cultivars. A one-page glossary defines such terms as chlorotic , obovate , and spur pruning , and a two-page further-reading section lists works on such specific groups of shrubs as Asian plants, hollies, peonies, and more. VERDICT Gardiner’s beautiful encyclopedia is user-friendly and informative. ‚ Fran Millhouser , formerly with Fairfax Cty. P.L., VA

Shumsky, Neil Larry. Homelessness: A Documentary and Reference Guide. Greenwood. 2012. 387p. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780313377006. $100. Online: ABC-CLIO eBook Collection REF

Shumsky (history, Virginia Tech) has published many books and articles on urban and immigration history. This work primarily examines homelessness during three periods in U.S. history: the late 1800s to early 1900s, the 1930s, and the last 40 years. Located at the front of the book is a reader’s guide to the documents and to the work’s many sidebars, which highlight interesting facts, anecdotes, and figures. An introduction and prolog analyze the treatment of homeless people in England in colonial times and posit that this history forms the basis for current U.S. sentiment toward that population. After that are excerpts from and analysis of English historical documents of the time. This pattern of documents followed by analysis continues throughout the work, which is divided primarily into the time periods discussed above, and within those sections by topics such as Squatters and Congress Defines Homelessness. VERDICT The reliance on primary documents and the well-drawn historical perspective makes this work stand out from others on the topic. This original look at homelessness in the United States from a historical perspective will prove a valuable addition to collections supporting social work or sociological research.‚ Samantha Schmehl Hines, Univ. of Montana-Missoula Lib.

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


Blume, Kenneth J. Historical Dictionary of the U.S. Maritime Industry. Scarecrow. (Historical Dictionaries of Professions & Industries). 2011. c.624p. photogs. bibliog. ISBN 9780810856349. $99. Online: NetLibrary, Overdrive, MyiLibrary, EBL, & Questia REF

Byrne, Joseph P. Encyclopedia of the Black Death. ABC-CLIO. 2012. 429p. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781598842531. $89. Online: ABC-CLIO eBook Collection REF

Witschey, Walter R.T. & Clifford T. Brown. Historical Dictionary of Mesoamerica. Scarecrow. (Historical Dictionaries of Ancient Civilizations & Historical Eras). 2011. 446p. photogs. maps. bibliog. ISBN 9780810871670. $105. Online: NetLibrary, Overdrive, MyiLibrary, EBL, & Questia REF


Barnes-Svarney, Patricia & Thomas E. Svarney. The Handy Math Answer Book. 2d ed. Visible Ink. May 2012. c.512p. illus. ISBN 9781578593736. pap. $21.95. REF

Social Sciences

Goldstein, Natalie. Globalization and Free Trade. 2d ed.428p. ISBN 9780816083657.

Peacock, Kathy Wilson. Food Security. 344p. ISBN 9780816082032.ea. vol: Facts On File. (Global Issues). 2011. index. $45. Online: Infobase eBooks 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.