Reference Reviews, June 1, 2012

Graphic Novels

Critical Survey of Graphic Novels: Heroes & Superheroes. 2 vols. Salem. 2012. 1000p. ed. by Bart H. Beaty & Stephen Weiner. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781587658655. $295. Online: Salem Literature, eBooks on EBSCOhost, Follett, ebrary, GVRL, MyiLibrary, Overdrive REF

The subtitle of this set is a little misleading; rather than compiling a catalog of characters, Beaty (English, Univ. of Calgary, Alta.; Of Comics and Men: A Cultural History of American Comic Books) and library director Weiner (Maynard P.L.; The Will Eisner Companion) have created an encyclopedia of comics that were bound in graphic novel format at some point, as opposed to presented comic style. Some, it should be noted, were initially published comic style and later collected, while others came out in a bound format. Also, the editors’ definition of heroes and superheroes is broader than some might expect‚ the graphic novels included feature action, science fiction, fantasy, and superhero tales that go beyond iconic Batman and Superman story lines. The entries offer very useful plot synopses, a character list, a short biography of the writer or artist, and critical examinations of the title’s themes, artistic style, and impact on other works. Each entry also includes a bibliography and recommendations for further reading. VERDICT This impeccable reference work will prove useful to librarians and fans wanting to know what to buy as well as for scholars studying the medium. Realistically, though, its price means it is best suited to academics writing about comic books and graphic novels. For them, the information provided regarding this large and sometimes ephemeral medium‚ the synopses, biographies, criticism‚ will be as useful as the best of similar references in other subjects.‚ Robert Mixner, Bartholomew Cty. P.L., Columbus, IN


Encyclopedia of Free Blacks and People of Color in the Americas. 2 vols. Facts On File. 2012. 1287p. ed. by Stewart R. King & Beverly C. Tomek. illus. maps. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780816072125. $185. Online: Infobase eBooks REF

King (history, Mount Angel Seminary) and Tomek (history, Wharton Cty. Jr. Coll.), succeed admirably at their stated goal of exploring and explaining the vital role of the free black community and other communities of color in the Americas from 1492 until the end of slavery in the United States. Hundreds of alphabetically arranged, signed articles vary in length from one to eight pages and are preceded by a thorough explanation of themes and premises and followed by an extensive chronology. Maps, charts, and tables full of demographic data are prevalent, as are a variety of art reproductions including engravings, illustrations, lithographs, paintings, and posters. Several organizational features make the set extremely accessible. For example, at the beginning of each book are lists of entries, maps, and tables for both volumes. In addition, extensive treatments of subjects are boldfaced in the index, and citations for further reading are included in every entry. The number of primary documents is small: only six in Volume 1 and five in Volume 2. However, many primary-source excerpts are included within the context of articles. VERDICT This discerning work skillfully combines scholarly content, concise writing, and ease of use. Academic and general researchers of African American and Latin American history will value the set’s balanced, insightful, and literate tone and treatment of topics.‚ Rob Tench, Old Dominion Univ. Lib., Norfolk, VA

Law & Crime

Jost, Kenneth. The Supreme Court A to Z. 5th ed. CQ Pr. 2012. 641p. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781608717446. $125. Online: CQ Press Electronic Library REF

Jost, an award-winning Supreme Court and legal affairs journalist (media law, Georgetown Univ.; The Supreme Court Yearbook), presents more than 360 entries covering the history, traditions, organizations, dynamics, and personalities of the court. Updates since the 2005 edition include new biographies of recently appointed justices and revised entries on recently retired ones. Pieces on key issues and concepts including abortion, campaigns and elections, civil rights, class action, due process, freedom of the press, reapportionment and redistricting, school desegregation, and war powers have been updated to explore the evolving legal landscape. A new entry discusses media and the court, highlighting the institution’s online presence. The book is packed with information and is necessarily text heavy but has extras embedded on every page. These cross-references, pull quotes, closer-look sections, case summaries, period photographs, and political cartoons add interest. The appendixes nicely supplement the alphabetically arranged entries with a time line of historic milestones of the court, histories of nominations, seating charts, online sources of court decisions, and a selected bibliography. VERDICT This accessible go-to resource is essential for civics collections. Anyone interested in national government and politics, from general readers to law students, will find it a rich source of knowledge on a wide range of legal issues. Libraries with a previous edition should purchase this new work because the legal world is constantly changing.‚ Julia A. Watson, Marywood Univ., Scranton, PA

The following titles are reviewed in the June 1 print issue. Visit our Reviews Center (Beta) for the full reviews.

Cold War: The Essential Reference Guide. ABC-CLIO. 2012. 443p. ed. by James R. Arnold & Roberta Wiener. photogs. maps. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781610690034. $89. Online: ABC-CLIO eBook Collection REF

Encyclopedia of Camps and Ghettos, 1933‚ 1945. Vol. 2: Ghettos in German-Occupied Eastern Europe. United States Holocaust Memorial Museum: Indiana Univ. 2012. c.2036p. ed. by Geoffrey P. Megargee & Martin Dean. illus. maps. index. ISBN 9780253355997. $236. REF

Jones, Stephen A. & Eric Freedman. Presidents and Black America: A Documentary History. CQ Pr. 2012. 584p. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781608710089. $145. Online: CQ Press Electronic Library REF

Native America: A State-by-State Historical Encyclopedia. 3 vols. Greenwood. 2012. 1393p. ed. by Daniel S. Murphree. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780313381263. $294. Online: ABC-CLIO eBook Collection REF

Language and Linguistics Doyle, Charles Clay & others. The Dictionary of Modern Proverbs. Yale Univ. 2012. c.312p. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780300136029. $35. Online: ebrary, EBSCOhost REF


Baker, William & Kenneth Womack. The Facts On File Companion to Shakespeare. 5 vols. Facts On File. 2012. 2156p. illus. maps. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780816078202. $375. Online: Infobase eBooks REF


Beaumont, Mike. The New Lion Bible Encyclopedia. Lion Hudson. Aug. 2012. 224p. illus. maps. index. ISBN 9780745955261. $24.95. REF

Collinge, William J. Historical Dictionary of Catholicism. 2d ed. Scarecrow. 2012. 622p. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780810857551. $95. Online: NetLibrary, Overdrive, MyiLibrary, EBL, & Questia REF

Nagy, Peter B. The Bible I Thought I Knew. 2009. 174p. ISBN 9780615320977. pap. $14.95. REF

American Indians and Popular Culture. 2 vols. Praeger. 2012. 768p. ed. by Elizabeth DeLaney Hoffman. photogs. index. ISBN 9780313379901. $131. Online: ABC-CLIO eBook Collection REF

Grenham, John. Tracing Your Irish Ancestors: The Complete Guide. 4th ed. Genealogical. 2012. c.608p. illus. index. ISBN 9780806318974. pap. $37.95. REF

Overman, Steven J. & Kelly Boyer Sagert. Icons of Women’s Sport. 2 vols. Greenwood. 2012. 623p. photogs. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780313385483. $173. 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.