Social Media & Politics, Military Science, Chemistry | Reference Reviews

Encyclopedia of Social Media and Politics. 3 vols. SAGE. 2014. 1640p. ed. by Kerric Harvey. ISBN 9781452244716. $460. REF

Social media and politicsMedia anthropologist Harvey’s (Sch. of Media and Public Affairs, George Washington Univ.) pioneering work on the burgeoning role of social media in politics provides a useful, eclectic foray into still-uncharted and often hard-to-navigate waters. At over 1,500 pages, this massive undertaking comprises several hundred entries of varying length on this rapidly evolving field, written by international scholars. The material bridges the practical and theoretical, and it is a challenge to discern the selection criteria used, a topic unaddressed in an otherwise illuminating introduction. Defying neat categorization, both mundane and obscure concepts (e.g., big data, Al Gore’s Penguin Army) subsumed under a dozen topical rubrics are intermingled, creating a sense (or perhaps an illusion) of comprehensive coverage. Ironically, the work’s very amorphousness, its intractable scope and ambitious reach, underscore its principal value. An appendix containing a study of social media use by members of Congress is included. VERDICT The proliferation of social media has so profoundly changed the landscape of political communication that a treatise of this nature is long overdue. Recommended for both general readers and social scientists from a variety of disciplines.—David Ettinger, George Washington Univ. Lib., Washington, DC

redstarEncyclopedia of Military Science. 4 vols. SAGE. 2013. 1928p. ed. by G. Kurt Piehler & M. Houston Johnson, V. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781412969338. $595. REF

Encyclopedia of Military ScienceNumerous reference works cover various themes within military science, such as intelligence or military equipment. But the last remotely comprehensive work on military studies or military science was the Encyclopedia of the American Military, published in 1994. This current work provides a necessary update. Editors Piehler (history, Florida State Univ. and director, Inst. on World War II and the Human Experience) and ­Johnson (history, Virginia Military Inst.) have fulfilled their aim of creating an interdisciplinary work on the nature of modern war. Major themes include civil-military relations, major branches of the American forces, training and education, approaches to military and naval history, strategic and tactical approaches to waging war, research and development, life and diversity in the forces, military law and the military justice system, values and ethics, contemporary events, and media coverage. Many entries reflect a more modern approach to military science, presenting topics never before covered in a work such as this. In addition to conflicts such as the U.S. involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan in the 2000s, readers will find entries on the Bush Doctrine, “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” personal finance, Halliburton, maritime piracy, and rules of engagement. Contributors, many of them established scholars in their respective fields, represent a wide range of military and academic institutions and nonprofit organizations. VERDICT This work will appeal most to its intended audiences of military personnel and trainees, as well as scholars and students with interests in military science. Timely in light of recent global events, these volumes constitute a welcome modernization and an accessible, comprehensive approach to military studies.—Matthew Wayman, Pennsylvania State Univ. Lib., Schuylkill Haven

Parsons, Paul & Gail Dixon. The Periodic Table: A Visual Guide to the Elements. Quercus. 2014. 240p. illus. index. ISBN 9781623651107. pap. $14.95; ebk. ISBN 9781623651114. REF

The Periodic TableThis handy scientific reference canvasses the “building blocks” of all matter in a convenient, richly illustrated layout. It is packed with all the pertinent information necessary to gain a solid understanding of the chemical world. The work begins with a vibrantly colored graphic of the periodic table followed by a brief introduction surveying Dmitri Mendeleev’s formulation that revolutionized “our understanding of the chemical world.” One by one, the elements are each presented within a format that alternates from a page of lucid description to a captioned visual representation for each that pops in lively colors from a white background. Prefatory matter for each element description includes a visual of its location on the table followed by its category, atomic number, atomic weight, phase, and color, as well as its melting and boiling points. Also included are graphics for each element’s electron arrangement and crystal structure. The entry for bromine (Br) is typical of the overall coherent, highly informative arrangement. Here we learn of bromine’s discovery by Antoine Jérôme Balard, rumors of its historical usage as an anaphrodisiac (libido suppressant) by the British Army during World War I, and as a pesticide until 1992 when it was added to the list of ozone-­depleting substances. The work is concluded by a discussion of the transfermium elements, complete with chart, and a glossary of related terms such as Actinides, Avogadro Number, Electron Shell, and Spectroscopy. VERDICT This is an outstanding resource for high school and college chemistry students and anyone with a scientific curiosity.—Brian Odom, Birmingham, AL

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general reference

Toseland, Martin & Simon Toseland. Infographica. Quercus. 2014. 208p. illus. ISBN 9781623650049. pap. $14.95; ebk. ISBN 9781623650056. REF

Performing Arts

Thomson, David. The New Biographical Dictionary of Film. 6th ed. Knopf. May 2014. 1168p. ISBN 9780375711848. pap. $29.95; ebk. ISBN 9780307594617. REF


Foster, Steven & others. Peterson Field Guide to Medicinal Plants and Herbs of Eastern and Central North America. 3d ed. Houghton Harcourt. 2013. 480p. photos. ISBN 9780547943985. pap. $21. REF

Nyerges, Christopher. Guide to Wild Foods and Useful Plants. 2d ed. Chicago Review. 2014. 337p. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781613746981. pap. $24.95; ebk. ISBN 9781613747018. REF

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