Wagner Encyclopedia, Environmental Literacy, Animals & Birds of the Serengeti | Reference Short Takes

The Cambridge Wagner Encyclopedia. Cambridge Univ. 2014. 897p. ed. by Nicholas Vazsonyi. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781107004252. $180; ebk. ISBN 9781107501843. refCambridge Wagner

Editor Vazsonyi (German & comparative literature, Univ. of South Carolina; Richard Wagner: Self-Promotion and the Making of a Brand) was co-organizer of last year’s Wagner World Wide project, a multi­disciplinary commemoration of the bicentennial of the composer Richard ­Wagner’s (1813–83) birth. He brings a similarly expansive approach to this encyclopedia, with some 80 scholars weighing in on Wagner in 550 alphabetically ordered essay entries that encompass the composer’s musical achievements and far-reaching impact on the world stage, including his anti-Semitic views, which later found favor with the Nazis. Twelve appendixes and a select bibliography add value for readers. VERDICT A learned treatise on the life and legacy of this influential—and controversial—cultural figure.

Dashefsky, H. Steven. Environmental Literacy From A to Z for Students and Educators. CreateSpace. 2014. 770p. ISBN 9781494967888. pap. $29.95. ref

“It’s not easy being green” was Kermit’s lament, but students and educators will have a better time of it with this 25th-anniversary edition of an alphabetically arranged resource on ecotopics first published in 1993. Science writer Dashefsky (environmental science, Norwalk Community Coll.; “High School Science Fair Experiments” series) includes 2,000 brief entries, from “Acid Rain” to “Zoning,” and offers “quick start” tips on how these topics can inspire teacher lesson plans and student research papers. Dashefsky offers a discount on the next edition to anyone who suggests an adopted new entry, cross-reference, or class topic outline idea. ­VERDICT An engaging tour of environmental topics, tailored particularly toward high school and college audiences.

honorandrespect060514Hickey, Robert. Honor and Respect: The Official Guide to Names, Titles, and Forms of Address. Page Street. Jun. 2014. 576p. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780989188609. ref

Botched honorifics are the stuff of diplomatic nightmares. In this second, expanded edition of a work first published in 2008, Hickey, deputy director of the Protocol School of Washington, sets forth clear guidelines on the best forms of addressing and introducing government officials from around the world, members of the armed services, and more. New niceties included in this edition are illustrations on the proper positioning of name-place cards and badges. The bibliography offers avenues for more etiquette edification. VERDICT A comprehensive ready reference covering the proper protocols on forms of address.

Kennedy, Adam Scott & Vicki Kennedy. Animals of the Serengeti: And Ngorongoro Conservation Area. Princeton Univ. 2014. 152p. photos. index. ISBN 9780691159089. pap. $27.95; ebk. ISBN 9781400851386. ref

Those ready to go on safari—or simply armchair traveling—will relish this guidebook covering 89 mammals and reptiles most likely to be encountered in the ­Serengeti National Park and nearby Ngorongoro Conservation Area. The authors, husband-and-wife safari-tour operators, provide 140 color photographs, many that they took themselves, including some of this area’s famous migrating wildebeests. Accompanying text offers identification details and wildlife behavior observances. This title, a companion to Birds of the Serengeti: And Ngorongoro Conservation Area, includes useful further-reading suggestions. VERDICT A colorful, easy-to-read overview of the fascinating animals to be found on safari in Tanzania.

Birds of the SerengetiKennedy, Adam Scott. Birds of the Serengeti: And Ngorongoro Conservation Area. Princeton Univ. 2014. 224p. photos. index. ISBN 9780691159102. pap. $27.95; ebk. ISBN 9781400850815. ref

Serengeti National Park and nearby Ngorongoro Conservation Area contain some 270 bird species, highlighted in this rich photographic guide from ­Kennedy, a safari tour operator who has also served as principal leader on birding holidays in Africa. Approximately 480 color photographs are featured, many taken by the author, with birds grouped by habitat (marsh, woodland, etc.). Accompanying text includes identification details and other behavioral observances. This title, a companion to Animals of the Serengeti: And Ngorongoro Conservation Area, also includes further reading that will assist birders who are planning to visit the area. VERDICT The amateur birder will find this a helpful book to have in hand while in Tanzania.

Safe Havens International, Inc. & others. Staying Alive: How To Act Fast and Survive Deadly Encounters. Barron’s. 2014. 304p. photos. bibliog. ISBN 9781438004082. pap. $14.99. ref

This handbook from Safe Havens International, an organization that helps schools and school systems improve campus safety, offers expert guidance on how to survive violent incidents, fires, medical emergencies, tornadoes, car accidents, and other hazards in public locations and at home. Whether to run, hide, or fight when in range of an active shooter is just one of the many life-or-death decisions analyzed here. Interestingly, a key concept in this area is “satisficing,” the authors’ term for making a decision quickly; it is important to avoid overanalyzing a situation, they explain, since the first 30 seconds of an incident is what they describe as “the critical window of life.” The book’s 13 chapters cover such diverse topics as security technologies, recognizing the signs of impending violence, self-defense, and traumatic stress; each section ends with a summary, a bullet-point list, and a bibliography. ­VERDICT A chilling and comprehensive crisis-­preparedness guide.—Judy Quinn, formerly with Library Journal