Reference Reviews | November 1, 2013

redstar Buswell, Robert E., Jr. & Donald S. Lopez Jr. The Princeton Dictionary of Buddhism. Princeton Univ. Nov. 2013. 1384p. maps. bibliog. ISBN 9780691157863. $65; ebk. ISBN 9781400848058. REF

Buswell (Buddhist studies, UCLA; Encyclopedia of Buddhism) and Lopez’s (Buddhist & Tibetan studies, Univ. of Michigan; The Tibetan Book of the Dead: A Biography) comprehensive dictionary covers an ancient religion that is commonly reduced in complexity for Western audiences. However, Buddhism’s ancient history and depth of teaching and culture are reflected in this volume’s extensiveness. Spanning numerous languages and cultures, the dictionary contains entries on more than 5,000 terms, place names, and people. The explanations include both basic and advanced information, translations, and many cross-references, making them of use to students and more advanced scholars. A comprehensive time line and various maps will help researchers and casual readers gain an overview of the ancestry and development of Buddhism throughout the world. Since many scholars specialize in one language family or one major stream of the faith, the inclusion of other languages and traditions will enable readers to cross-reference terms and concepts. The indexes cross-reference terms in Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Pali, Tibetan, and Sanskrit (for the few cases where the most common term is not Sanskrit). Some main entries in other Asian languages are also included. A fascinating section to browse is the list of lists in the appendix. Owing to the length and breadth of this volume, this will supersede previously published titles such as Damien Keown’s Oxford Dictionary of Buddhism (2003). ­VERDICT Suitable for researchers and browsers in academic and public libraries.—Ray Arnett, Fremont Area Dist. Lib., MI

redstar Gale Encyclopedia of Everyday Law. rev. ed. 2 vols. Gale. 2013. 1633p. ed. by Donna Batten. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781414498966. $549; ebk. ISBN 9781414498997. REF

While not a self-help resource, this title for lay readers offers “practical information on laws and issues affecting people’s everyday lives” and provides an excellent overview of the American legal system. With the exception of the 17-page legal-system overview, articles in this update of the 2006 edition range in length from two pages (“Travel–Travel Security”) to eight pages (“Health Care–Patient Rights”). The 276 entries, arranged alphabetically within 26 alphabetically organized subjects, are current through 2012 and cover topics from the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, medical marijuana, and the Transportation Security Administration to immigration, estate planning, and civil rights. Articles are divided into several sections: background; overview of federal laws and regulations; general review of state laws and regulations; print and Internet resource recommendations; and a listing of pertinent state, federal, and national organizations and agencies such as Consumers Union and Consumer Reports. Important statutes and cases are mentioned in the appropriate articles. For example, “Health Care–Medicaid” refers to the 2012 case National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius, and Roe v. Wade (1973) is noted in six articles. Bold print within the text indicates glossary entries while the detailed index pulls together subjects and cases scattered throughout multiple articles. For instance, the index entry “Georgia” includes 81 subentries ranging from “education of disabled students” to “hotel liability.” ­Verdict Appropriate for high school, public, and academic libraries where users need a basic overview of current legal topics.—Laurie Selwyn, formerly with Grayson Cty. Law Lib., Sherman, TX

Meltzer, Peter E. So You Think You Know the Presidents? Fascinating Facts About Our Chief Executives. History Pub. 2013. 460p. photos. bibliog. ISBN 9781933909738. $24.95; ebk. ISBN 9781933909783. REF

The facts in this book are indeed fascinating, as Meltzer (attorney; formerly law, Rutgers Univ. Sch. of Law; The Thinker’s Thesaurus) seeks to offer information about the personal lives and activities of the U.S. presidents, rather than concentrating on their political careers. The author states his intention to provide something different from other volumes on the presidents, which he feels are flawed for several reasons (they are organized by president, the men are discussed in order of their administrations, they are not interactive, they focus on trivia, and the information is not usually original). The introduction is a selection of facts that are sure to capture the imagination of the reader; for example, Meltzer explains that Herbert Hoover was the only president to meet Adolf Hitler. Chapters are arranged in question-and-answer format, and readers will often be as surprised at the question as by the answer. However, while the work is entertaining, it is not a good reference title. There is no index, and therefore if one is looking for information about music and a particular president or even music and presidents in general, one must read the book from cover to cover and dig out the relevant parts. Librarians and researchers will find this severely limiting. Verdict While this title is not suitable as a reference resource, it is packed with interesting facts (the chapter on marriages is wonderful) and therefore worth a circulating purchase for readers of history, biography, and cultural history.—Susan L. ­Peters, Univ. of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston

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The following titles are reviewed in this month's print issue.
Visit Book Verdict for the full reviews.

Fine Arts

Miller, Judith. Miller’s Antiques Handbook & Price Guide 2014–2015. Mitchell Beazley: Octopus. 2013. 648p. photos. index. ISBN 9781845337919. $45. REF


The Literature of Autobiographical Narrative. 3 vols. St. James. (Literature of Society). 2013. 1200p. ed. by Thomas Riggs. photos. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781558628700. $400. REF

Hardon, John A. Catholic Dictionary: A Revised and Updated Edition of Modern Catholic Dictionary. Image: Crown. 2013. 556p. ISBN 9780307886347. pap. $19.99; ebk. ISBN 9780307886354. REF

Social Sciences

Encyclopedia of Philosophy and the Social Sciences. 2 vols. SAGE. 2013. 1144p. ed. by Byron Kaldis. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781412986892. $315. REF