RUSQ (59:3/4) Digital Supplement — Reference Sources

This digital supplement to RUSQ 59:3/4 includes reviews of professional materials, reference sources and the BRASS outstanding business information sources reviews for 2020 and 2021 (view all digital supplements). We thank members of the BRASS Information Sources Committees for 2020 and 2021, our review editors, Anita Slack and Calantha Tillotson, and their reviewers for their work, and RUSA past-president, Courtney McDonald for putting together these supplements.

View current and back issues of RUSQ at https://journals.ala.org/index.php/rusq/index. In spring 2022, the RUSA Publications Taskforce will be releasing a set of recommendations about various RUSA communication tools, including RUSQ. Share your thoughts via our survey. — Barry Trott, editor pro tem, RUSQ.


RUSQ considers for review reference books and professional materials of interest to reference and user services librarians. Serials and subscription titles normally are not reviewed unless a major change in purpose, scope, format, or audience has occurred. Reviews usually are three hundred to five hundred words in length.

Views expressed are those of the reviewers and do not necessarily represent those of ALA. Please refer to standard directories for publishers’ addresses.

Correspondence concerning these reviews should be addressed to “Reference Sources” editor, Anita J. Slack, Liaison and Instruction Librarian, Capital University, 1 College and Main Columbus, OH 43209 email: aslack8@capital.edu.

Reference Sources Contents

  1. Adolescent Psychology in Today’s World: Global Perspectives on Risk, Relationships, and Development
  2. African American Literature: An Encyclopedia for Students
  3. African Americans by the Numbers: Understanding and Interpreting Statistics on African American Life
  4. Aliens in Popular Culture
  5. All Things Ancient Egypt: An Encyclopedia of the Ancient Egyptian World
  6. Alternative Healing in American History: An Encyclopedia from Acupuncture to Yoga
  7. American History through its Greatest Speeches: A Documentary History of the United States
  8. American Journalism and “Fake News:” Examining the Facts
  9. The American West on Film
  10. Asian Fruits and Berries: Growing Them, Eating Them, Appreciating Their Lore
  11. Barack Obama: A Life in American History
  12. Black Baseball, 1858-1900: A Comprehensive Record of the Teams, Players, Managers, Owners and Umpires
  13. Carolina Beach Music Encyclopedia
  14. The Christopher Lee Film Encyclopedia
  15. The Civil Rights Movement: A Reference Guide
  16. Climate Change Politics and Policies in America: Historical and Modern Documents in Context
  17. The Cold War: Interpreting Conflict through Primary Documents
  18. Conspiracies and Conspiracy Theories in American History
  19. Daily Life in Nazi-Occupied Europe
  20. Daily Life of Women in the Progressive Era
  21. Encyclopedia of Stateless Nations: Ethnic and National Groups around the World
  22. Encyclopedia of Weird Detectives: Supernatural and Paranormal Elements in Novels, Pulps, Comics, Film, Television, Games and Other Media
  23. Encyclopedia of Women in World Religions: Faith and Culture across History
  24. Geography Today: An Encyclopedia of Concepts, Issues, and Technology
  25. Global Crime: An Encyclopedia of Cyber Theft, Weapons Sales, and Other Illegal Activities
  26. The Historian’s Scarlet Letter:  Reading Nathaniel Hawthorne’s Masterpiece as Social and Cultural History
  27. History of American Indians: Exploring Diverse Roots
  28. The History of Christianity: Facts and Fictions
  29. Homeland Security and Critical Infrastructure Protection
  30. Imagining the End: The Apocalypse in American Popular Culture
  31. Mapping American Criminal Law: Variations across the 50 States
  32. Mass Shootings in America: Understanding the Debates, Causes, and Responses
  33. Midterm Campaigning and the Modern Presidency: Reshaping the President’s Relationship with Congress
  34. Money in American Politics: An Encyclopedia
  35. Obesity in Childhood and Adolescence
  36. Peak Plastic: The Rise or Fall of Our Synthetic World
  37. Pipeline Politics:  Assessing the Benefits and Harms of Energy Policy
  38. Pop Goes the Decade: The Seventies
  39. Prisons and Punishment in America: Examining the Facts
  40. Prisons in the United States: A Reference Handbook
  41. Reforming America: A Thematic Encyclopedia and Document Collection of the Progressive Era
  42. Reinventing Japan: New Directions in Global Leadership
  43. The Rules and Politics of American Primaries: A State-by-State Guide to Republican and Democratic Primaries and Caucuses
  44. Stem Cells
  45. Technical Innovation in American History: An Encyclopedia of Science and Technology
  46. The Tavern: A Social History of Drinking and Conviviality
  47. Therapy and Counseling: Your Questions Answered
  48. Vaccination and its Critics: A Documentary Reference Guide
  49. The Victorian World: A Historical Exploration of Literature
  50. Violence in Popular Culture: American and Global Perspectives
  51. The World of Jim Crow America: A Daily Life Encyclopedia
  52. The World’s Greatest Religious Leaders: How Religious Figures Helped Shape World History
  53. World War II Propaganda: Analyzing the Art of Persuasion During Wartime

Adolescent Psychology in Today’s World: Global Perspectives on Risk, Relationships, and Development. Edited by Michael J. Nakkula and Andrew J. Schneider-Muñoz. Santa Barbara, CA: Praeger, 2018. 3 vols. Acid-free $243. (ISBN 978-1-4408-3039-6). Ebook Available (978-1-4408-3040-2), call for pricing.          

Adolescent Psychology in Today’s World is a three-volume set that provides a collection of 40 essays written by international scholars on adolescent psychology and development across varying cultures. The research presented is interdisciplinary, integrating knowledge and methods from psychological, sociological, and anthropological perspectives. This work examines youth and their possibility development, which “is a psychological construct. It is the internal understanding of possibilities in one’s life and the developmental experience of actualizing them” (volume 1, 3). The contributors provide information and case studies about adolescents from first world countries with a greater emphasis on youth from developing countries living in adverse environments. The essays address cross-cultural research topics concerning the multitude of challenges adolescents experience globally like poverty, political conflict, inadequate access to education, and unemployment.

The volumes are organized by geographical location. Each volume contains an introductory essay, an “About the Editors and Contributors” section and an index. All of the essays conclude with a list of references, and some of the chapters contain black-and-white images or graphs.

Volume one is about “The Americas” featuring twelve chapters about youth in United States, Canada, Mexico, Colombia, Argentina, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Peru, and Ecuador. Many of these essays address possibility development in relation to education, educational programs, and initiatives. For example, chapter ten provides the history and present state of Nicaraguan education and highlights the Semillas Digitales (Digital Seeds) initiative, and chapter twelve is about the Ecuadorian schooling model, Centro Educativo Nuevo Mundo (CENM).

Volume two encompasses “Europe, Russia, and Australia” with eleven chapters about adolescents in Russia, Romania, Serbia, Finland, Austria, Greece, Italy, Spain, United Kingdom, and Australia. The youth presented in this volume live in very culturally traditional countries that are rapidly changing. The topics addressed include the challenges and opportunities for Russian, Romanian, and Serbian youth, Italian LGBT high schoolers, and the participation of Australian young adults in mental health reform.

Volume three titled “Africa, Asia, and the Middle East” consists of seventeen chapters about “how belonging to intergenerational social networks can influence a young person’s chances for a better life within neoliberal opportunity structures” (volume 3, 1). The countries presented are Malawi and Uganda, Nigeria, Egypt, South Africa, Japan, South Korea, China, India, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Israel, Iran, and Pakistan. Many of the essays address the opportunities and challenges of youth and possibility development in these countries, in addition to globalization and its impact on adolescent development. 

For those looking for more of a comprehensive global and cultural overview of adolescent psychology, Praeger also published the singular volume Childhood and Adolescence: Cross-Cultural Perspectives and Applications, edited by Uwe P. Gielen and Jaipaul L. Roopnarine’s (2nd ed., 2016). Editors Nakkula and Schneider-Muñoz explain that Adolescent Psychology in Today’s World does not aim “to provide an encyclopedic overview of adolescent psychology, but rather, to delve into a carefully selected sample of the interesting, challenging, and hopeful realities that youth both face and help to create on a day-to-day basis” (volume 1, 33). I believe this was accomplished and that many disciplines would find it useful including those researching international education, development, policy, and social justice. This interdisciplinary reference work would be a valuable addition to academic libraries.—Megan Coder, Associate Librarian, State University of New York at New Paltz


African American Literature: An Encyclopedia for Students. Edited by Hans A. Ostrom and J. David Macey. Santa Barbara, CA: Greenwood, 2019. 429 pages. Acid-free $109 (ISBN 978-1-4408-7150-4). Ebook Available (978-1-4408-7151-1), call for pricing.

African American Literature: An Encyclopedia for Students serves mostly as a condensed version of the excellent five volume The Greenwood Encyclopedia of African American Literature from 2005. This new encyclopedia includes 121 entries as opposed to the original’s 1,029 entries. Though there are a few new entries on contemporary writers, such as Ta-Nehisi Coates and Roxane Gay, most of the entries are selected from the 2005 encyclopedia. Each entry does include an up-to-date list of references at the end which may give it some appeal to libraries that already have the first encyclopedia in their collections.

The scope is primarily American and spans from slavery to the present. Most of the entries are biographical in nature, but there are entries for other topics related to literature, such as “Black Arts Movement,” “E-Zines, E-News, E-Journals, and E-Collections,” and “Poststructuralism.” Entries are arranged in alphabetical order, making it easy to browse. Each entry includes a useful resources section that frequently consist of both primary and secondary sources. The chronology at the beginning spans from ca. 35,000 BCE to 2019 and covers both historical and literary milestones. The “General Bibliography and List of Organizations, Museums, and Research Centers” at the end is quite comprehensive, including reference sources, anthologies, criticism, and a selected list of organizations, museums, and research centers. The index at the very end is helpful for discovering links between writers and their connections to various movements and styles. For instance, the listing for James Baldwin in the index reveals not only topics described in the main entry for him, but also reveals that he is mentioned in the entry for “Folklore” and “Gayl Jones.”

The target audience for this reference work is high school and college students. For libraries that already own The Greenwood Encyclopedia of African American Literature this reference work is an optional purchase, but the compact nature and accessibility of this one volume work should still provide value for libraries supporting students’ research.—Arianne A. Hartsell-Gundy, Librarian for Literature and Theater Studies, Duke University, Durham, North Carolina


African Americans by the Numbers: Understanding and Interpreting Statistics on African American Life.  By Glenn L. Starks.  Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 2017. 180 pages. Acid free $45 (ISBN 978-1-4408-4504-8).  Ebook available (978-1-4408-4505-5), call for pricing.

Understanding the variation between groups, whether by age, gender, education, or race/ethnicity, is a fundamental aspect of the social sciences.  In the United States, it is arguably most important to examine disparities in social indicators by race and ethnicity, given America’s troubled history in this arena. Therefore, a compendium of statistics about African Americans (the term I will use in this review, as it is the one used by author Starks in his title) can make a significant contribution to our knowledge as we consider the nature of social relationships and societal processes and outcomes.   While there are numerous encyclopedias and other reference works offering a range of information about African Americans, most are outdated at this point. 

Starks steps into the gap with his book African Americans by the Numbers: Understanding and Interpreting Statistics on African American Life.  The book offers a wide-ranging review of statistics related to many areas of African American experience in the United States.  Chapters cover education, health, crime, employment, voting, family and religion.  Starks worked in the U.S. government for 25 years and has written extensively about government, politics, and African American life in general. This experience shows in the varied and broad range of sources discussed and employed in presenting content about African Americans, and in the helpful and detailed background and discussions (labeled “Analysis”) related to each topic.  Starks effectively instructs how to approach the concerns and nuances of the particular statistics we may want to understand and present in our own work, and in doing so lays a foundation for further exploration.

At the same time, there are some issues with the book which mean that a reader must approach it with a spirit of critical inquiry. Most concerning are the sections of the text which offer a number of factual statements without citation; in multiple instances the information given needs examination.  For example, an assertion that “high rates of teen pregnancy in the US are due to a more relaxed attitude toward unmarried sex than other nations” (p.132) must be questioned, as a Guttmacher Institute report states that this is not the case (“Teenage Sexual and Reproductive Behavior in Developed Countries: Can More Progress Be Made?”, 2001).  Another example needing grounding in the literature is the statement that African Americans have a “genetically higher risk of heart disease” (p. 48).  While not completely false, this type of information needs to be presented in context so as not to mislead; it has been conclusively proven that race is not a genetic construct, and in this case the higher heart disease risk is due to the fact that African Americans tend to have genetic material based on their ancestors’ origins in an area of Africa with genetically higher risk. 

Perhaps the most similar resource to African Americans by the Numbers is Monique Morris’ Black Stats (The New Press, 2014).  While older, the information in this book is completely cited, it presents the data more compellingly through the use of data visualizations (which Starks’ book lacks, using only tables of statistics), and it is wider-ranging as well.  While Starks did not include a section on military service, Morris includes statistics not only on military service, but also information such as patterns and achievements in the spheres of education, entertainment, science, law, and business. Interestingly, neither author discusses the increasing proportion—upwards of 10%– of African Americans who are immigrants (and might not call themselves African Americans).  However, Morris’ book does not offer as much of the deep expertise and interpretive power which can be found in Stark’s work.  In the end, the two are complementary and would make a solid pairing if used in tandem.  Even with some of the concerns mentioned above, the Starks book makes important contributions to knowledge and learning, and is recommended for public libraries, and academic libraries with a focus on undergraduates.—Ann Glusker, Librarian, University of California, Berkeley, Berkeley, California


Aliens in Popular Culture. Edited by Michael M. Levy and Farah Mendlesohn. Santa Barbara, CA: Greenwood, 2019. 335 pages. Acid-free. $94 (ISBN 978-1-4408-3832-3). Ebook Available (978-1-4408-3833-0), call for pricing.        

Editors Levy (formerly, English, Univ. of Wisconsin, Stout, now deceased) and Mendlesohn (co-editor of the Cambridge Companion to Science Fiction), have assembled contributions from scholars in literature and media studies, and self-described science fiction enthusiasts to explore popular depictions of alien life. The bulk of the volume consists of over 100 short essays (2-3 pages) discussing specific films, television shows, computer games, and texts. The expected cultural touchstones are present (“Doctor Who,” “Star Wars”) along with some less well known creations. As the introduction makes clear, the focus is on works created after the publication of H.G. Wells’ The War of the Worlds (1897) with a decided emphasis on the Anglo-American experience. With few exceptions, the shows, novels, and other works examined are discussed in the context of American and British audiences. The inclusion of computer games is a welcome addition to the traditional popular culture canon. In terms of content, this is a fascinating read. The individual essays are engaging and informative.  While many of the works included are also discussed in other reference books, the emphasis on aliens allows the authors to cover some familiar topics using a unique lens – how the nonhumans in the story are portrayed. My only quibble would be a desire for more thematic essays. The volume begins with four such essays, but several more covering topics such as race or gender would have been valuable additions – bringing together insights made in the individual essays. That suggestion aside, this collection will appeal to science fiction fans who will find familiar friends and make new discoveries. Student researchers will appreciate that each essay includes a list of recommended sources for those inspired to explore further.—Eric Novotny, Humanities Librarian, Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA


All Things Ancient Egypt: An Encyclopedia of the Ancient Egyptian World. Edited by Lisa K. Sabbahy. All Things. Santa Barbara: Greenwood, 2019. 2 vols. Acid free $198 (ISBN 978-1-4408-5512-2) Ebook available (978-1-4408-5513-9), call for pricing.

A part of ABC-CLIO/Greenwood’s All Things series, All Things Ancient Egypt edited by Lisa K. Sabbahy is a nice introduction to Egyptian material and social culture. Sabbahy is an assistant professor of Egyptology at the American University in Cairo, and she has assembled an impressive team of knowledgeable contributors who provide informative essays on the beliefs, practices, institutions, art, and customs of the Ancient Egyptians. Covering the period from the early Predynastic ca. 5300 BCE to the fall of Egypt to Rome in 30 CE, the book focuses mainly on the Pharaonic Old, Middle, and New Kingdoms and their cultures.

The resource begins with an introduction that situates Egypt in its geographical context and gives a very brief historical introduction. A guide in the front of volume 1 helps group individual essays together into topical groups, such as cities and sites, monuments, and funerary practices. Covering a wide array of subjects, the essays themselves are arranged in alphabetical order and signed by their respective authors. Black and white photos appear throughout, and each essay has cross-references to other related essays and bibliographical references for additional reading and study. Sidebars in some essays provide further information on key topics and examples from primary source documents. A comprehensive bibliography with a mixture of new and classic materials and a general index can be found at the end of the second volume. The emphasis of this series on the material culture and society of its subjects fills in gaps in available reference resources, which often concentrate more on elite institutions and historical worldviews and less on the ordinary and quotidian.        

Written in an easy to understand and engaging style intended for high school and undergraduate students, it would also be an affordable option for public libraries serving general readers with an interest in ancient Egypt.—Amanda K. Sprochi, Cataloging Librarian, The University of Missouri, Columbia, Missouri


Alternative Healing in American History: An Encyclopedia from Acupuncture to Yoga.  By Michael Shally-Jensen.  Santa Barbara, CA: Greenwood, 2019. 410 pages. Acid-free $94 9ISBN 978-1-4408-6033-1).  Ebook Available (978-1-4408-6034-8), call for pricing.

Shally-Jensen is an independent researcher and has edited other titles for ABC-CLIO such as Mental Health Care Issues in America and American Political Culture: An Encyclopedia. The introduction to the whole volume gives some broad statistics on who is currently using alternative medicines along with a broad overview of the development of alternative medicine. There is also a separate focus on mental health and how alternative approaches have been used to treat the illness.

The encyclopedia starts with a table of contents and has an alphabetical list of entries.  Each entry is a page to two-three pages. The entries contain See Also references as well as Further Reading resources. The Encyclopedia is divided into five main sections with an overall introduction for each section:  Pre-1900, 1900-1950’s, 1960’s-1970’s, 1980’s to 2000 and 2000-present. Within each timeframe, the topics are arranged alphabetically. Under Pre-1900, the reader can learn about Bloodletting, Phrenology, and Spas and Mineral Treatments. From 1900-1930, topics range from Chiropractic, Dianetics, Lobotomy and 12-step programs. Acupuncture, Biofeedback, Feldenkrais Method, Reflexology and Rolfing are under the 1960’s-70’s and Antioxidants, Detox Diets, Juicing and Reiki appear in the 1980’s. The most recent topics include Bottled Water, Cupping, Eating Organic, and Paleo Diet. 

The entries may contain captioned photographs, and insets that provide more information.  For example, under Bloodletting and Leeching, there is a sidebar that describes how bloodletting may have killed George Washington.  One inset under Witch Trials and Exorcisms explains how the film The Exorcist changed popular understanding of exorcisms.  The end of the volume contains a list of contributors, and an extensive index.

There are many titles available on alternative medicines such as the 4-volume set Gale Encyclopedia of Alternative Medicine and the textbook Consumer Health & Integrative Medicine: A Holistic View of Complementary and Alternative Medicine Practice. This title is a concise, one volume primer on alternative practices through the century. It does not provide information on how to utilize the alternative practices but explains how the practice came to be and evolved or died over the years. The title provides a good starting place for all readers to learn more about the history of alternative therapies.—Stacey Marien, Acquisitions Librarian, American University, Washington, DC


American History through its Greatest Speeches: A Documentary History of the United States. Darryl Mace Edited by Jolyn P. Girard, and Courtney Smith. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 2016. 3 vols. Acid free $294 (ISBN 978-1-6106-9969-3). E-book available (978-1-6106-9970-9), call for pricing.

In this comprehensive, three-volume set, the editors set out to show how speeches have helped people contemporaneously analyze and understand the important issues of the era. The volumes are logically divided by era and each volume includes introductory historical context through a timeline. The chapters in each volume are further prefaced by introductory historical essays. The speeches are organized chronologically and each is preceded by brief historical context. The volumes conclude with short biographies of the selected speechmakers and further reading recommendations.

While the structure of the work is logical and easy to follow, the formatting of the text is dense, and at some points, difficult to read. The historical head notes are italicized but they immediately lead into the speech text. Sometimes it is hard to tell where one ends and the other starts. Also, the text lacks images and white space which further decreases readability.

The text looks at some 200 speeches beginning from pre-American history to the modern era. The editors, however, were explicit in noting that all of the included examples are not speeches. They expanded the definition of “speeches” to also include letters, trial transcripts, written addresses to Congress, and other non-verbally delivered materials. This muddies the goal of the book a bit and makes the reader wonder why it was entitled “Greatest Speeches.” Instead of a reference work showcasing the importance of oratory, we have lengthy text of primary source material. The work loses some structure and it is difficult to know if its intent is to be a reference for history, communications, drama, or biography.

The selected speeches are from predominantly white men, but the editors made considerable effort to include minority voices. Texts from Native Americans, Blacks, and women are included as the historical record allows. These texts most often show up to either counterbalance the predominant white narrative of history or show the struggle for equality that is pervasive through American history.

While the work does make a noted attempt to share BIPOC voices, there are some curious word choices throughout the text. In the historical header to one selection, a slave, Gabriel Prosser, is referred to as “belonging” to a family as opposed to being “owned” or “enslaved” by them (v.1, 253). Additionally, Native American tribes are categorized as “Indians” but not consistently throughout the text. In some areas, the same tribes and leaders are referred to by name, tribe, or as Native American in addition to Indian. These editorial choices are confounding given that the same editors note the prominent white bias of history. Insets make note of where speeches and texts were likely altered and biased by white interpreters. While the editors did provide for the sharing of minority voices and most of volume two is devoted to the struggle for equality, the clunky writing of some of the introductory text and historical context is grating to experience.

This work is comprehensive but feels as if it lacks an end teaching goal which makes it difficult to know how to use. Is this a text merely for historical analysis or does it seek to showcase the importance of oration? The full-text inclusion of the selected “speeches” provides useful access to primary sources, but searching for that text without a specific speech in mind can be difficult. As this is a print work, the index and table of contents are the primary way of searching which does not provide for the “full-text” search many users seek these days.

In a reference work that purports to be about speeches, it is important to note that the text rarely denotes the manner of delivery. In this work, reader fails to see (and hear) the delivery. Speeches are as much about vocalization and physical emotion as they are about words. While recordings are impossible for the early material, access to recordings and/or videos of modern speeches would be useful. Only in rare instances do the editors comment on how a speech was delivered or received. In that way, this work feels less about speechmaking and more about the historical context of the selected texts.

Finally, it should be noted that famous, modern speeches, like Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech, have been omitted due to copyright and licensing restrictions. The editors make a clear note of this in their prefatory material.

Even with these flaws, this work would be useful for academic libraries at schools with programs focusing on history, communications, and/or drama. The set provides important information for such programs and could be used in a different manner suiting each of their educational goals.—Meghan Kowalski, Outreach and Reference Librarian, The University of the District of Columbia, Washington, DC


American Journalism and “Fake News:” Examining the Facts. By Seth Ashley, Jessica Roberts, and Adam Maksl. Contemporary Debates. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 2018. 239 pages. Acid Free $63 (ISBN 978-1-4408-6183-3). E-book available (978-1-4408-6184-0), call for pricing.

The term “fake news” is all too prevalent in today’s society and it is often misunderstood, misrepresented, and misused. Previously thought of as referring primarily to news satire or news parody (such as the Daily Show or the Onion), “fake news” has now expanded to include news fabrication, photo manipulation, and propaganda, while also becoming highly politicized in the last few years. This most recent volume in the ABC-CLIO Contemporary Debates series, authored by Seth Ashley, Jessica Roberts, and Adam Maksl, outlines the current political and cultural landscape that has given rise to the term “fake news” by presenting the current facts and an unbiased understanding of 21st century American journalism.

Each title in the Contemporary Debates series presents 30-40 questions, divided among major topics. Each question is provided a short, objective answer followed by a lengthier section that outlines the facts relevant to the question. American Journalism has divided its 37 questions into seven sections. While all of the sections in this issue cover topics of national and global importance, sections of particular interest include news and politics, “fake news” and misinformation, and representation and reality in news coverage. The authors do an excellent job of answering each question clearly and succinctly. The short answers to the questions themselves have the potential to stand alone and inform the reader well-enough about the major questions surrounding American journalism. However, the facts presented in each section, though lengthier, well-researched, and cited, are easily digestible and upon completion the reader will have a more holistic understanding of the role that journalists play in modern American media. Even though each question could be used as a reference point for particular areas of interest, as a complete volume, this title provides a comprehensive and thoroughly documented account of the rise of “fake news” in America and the challenges that journalists face today.

Also of note is the comprehensive list of further reading that follows each question. A majority of the cited references in the facts section for each question appear in the further reading list which enables readers to dig deeper into the conversation at hand. The further reading coupled with the detailed index provide a wide and contemporary view of American journalism. The only thing that this title could have benefitted from is a detailed glossary to assist the lay and non-specialist reader; however, the authors do make a significant effort to properly define and describe industry-specific terms in the facts section of each question. In all, this is a comprehensive and well-rounded look into the political, social, and cultural challenges facing American journalism in the 21st century and would benefit readers of all kinds, including high school and undergraduate students, public and academic librarians, and the general reader who is interested in an unbiased, factual presentation of an often very-biased, un-objective topic.Kristina A. Clement, Student Success Librarian, University of Wyoming, Laramie, WY.


The American West on Film. By Johnny D. Boggs. Hollywood History. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 2019. 237 pages. Acid-free, $63. (ISBN 978-1-4408-6676-0). Ebook available (978-1-4408-6677-7), call for pricing.

Compare and contrast. That kind of side-by-side analysis, in which similarities and differences of two texts are given a close look, is a frequent assignment handed out by composition instructors. It’s also a theme to be found in the pages of this well researched and cogently written volume, in which real history and “reel” history are set in parallel, all the better to understand how the one hews or diverges from the other. Eleven chapters break down as many classic “oaters,” (or “horse operas,” as some film snobs have been known to denigrate the distinctly American genre properly known as “westerns”), each of which follows a standard format. A few paragraphs of scene setting serves as an introduction to each film, with interesting observations on the actors, director, and other participants, which are included along with production notes and other filmic factoids.

The body of each chapter consists of three segments. “Historical Background” is just what one would expect, that is to say, history as the historians relate it. A typical passage is that describing the background of “hang’em high justice” as depicted in The Ox-Bow Incident (Henry Fonda and Dana Andrews – 1943): “Vigilantes – people taking the law into their own hands – had been a part of the American frontier since the colonial era…While vigilantes and mob rule were often decried in most regions of the United States, Western states and territories seemed more sympathetic to such tactics. Historian Hubert H. Bancroft wrote that vigilantes served as ‘the keen knife in the hands of a skillful surgeon, removing the putrefaction with the least possible injury to the body politic (Friedman 2007, 214)’” [25].

 “Depiction and Cultural Context” is the cinematic version of events that transpired, which, depending on whether the celluloid under discussion is Union Pacific (Robert Preston and Barbara Stanwyck – 1939) or Little Big Man (Dustin Hoffman – 1970), conformity to the record can range anywhere from verisimilitude to the entirely fantastic. On this point, hair-splitters and nitpickers might raise the objection that movies are meant to entertain; if it’s education you want (or maybe a cure for your insomnia), go watch a training film. A legitimate argument, to be sure, but if all one wants is a divorce from reality, why go to the local bijou in the first place? Comic books, role-playing games, and a plethora of other cheap thrills offer the parental basement dwelling misfit plenty of other avenues to be provided with the means to escape responsibility and/or gainful employment. However, that’s an issue for sociologists to deal with, not reference book reviewers. Each chapter concludes with an aptly entitled “Conclusion,” which ties everything up with a bow, in addition to giving the author an opportunity to opine with his own take on the proceedings.

Speaking of which, Johnny D. Boggs is a well-regarded writer and film historian, in both cases specializing in the story of the American west. Previous publications include Jesse James and the Movies and Billy the Kid on Film, 1911-2012. Boggs graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of South Carolina in 1984.

Special features include text boxes that zero in on specific aspects of western lore and legend, both actual and imagined. For example, in the chapter on High Noon (Gary Cooper and Grace Kelly – 1952), the topic is “Bounty Hunters and ‘Dead or Alive.’” Here, it is related that “‘As romantic as the notion is of freelance bounty hunters bringing in their prey ‘dead or alive,’ there is not much historical evidence for this,’ journalist Max McCoy said. ‘The problem is that the idea of being pre-authorized to kill rather than attempt a capture goes contrary to our system of law, even in the Old West (67).’” A chronology of events in western United States history and a well-chosen selection of books in a bibliography round out this very readable work.

It should be noted that this is merely one title in the series designated “Hollywood History.” Other film subjects covered, so far, include the American Civil War, World War II and the Vietnam War.

In light of the fact that motion pictures have been a mainstay of American popular culture for decades, the interest of the masses in this media practically demands that this title be on the shelves of public libraries, large and small. Not only that, but those members of the populace who seek a deeper appreciation of the art of movie making (and watching) will now get the story behind the story, as it were, with this deeply researched and authoritatively written work. Academic libraries that offer a curriculum in pop culture generally, and film studies specifically, will also want to have this volume as part of their collections.—Michael F. Bemis, Reference Librarian (Retired). Formerly employed by Washington County Public Library, Oakdale MN


Asian Fruits and Berries: Growing Them, Eating Them, Appreciating Their Lore.  By Kathleen Low.  Jefferson, NC:  McFarland, 2019.  $29.95.  (ISBN 978-1-4766-7595-4).  Ebook Available (978-1-4766-3772-3), call for pricing.

Kathleen Low provides a unique tour through Asian fruits and berries by blending gardening, folklore, and agricultural history into a concise guide for enthusiasts. Each of the 42 fruits in this book seem to contain information for two types of readers. The casually interested have a general description of the look and taste of the fruits, folklore, tree history, and ways to consume the fruit. Readers with a green thumb and the time (many are trees that take years to reach maturity), have details within the sections detailing plant characteristics, selecting a plant from a nursery, how to grow them from seed, and extensive references such as the USDA and cooperative extension sites. Given this dichotomy, readers will most likely be interested in about half of the book. Those interested in taste or folklore may not be riveted by details such as, “persimmon trees grow in most soils, except light sandy soils. However they grow best in loamy soil. They tolerate clay soils as long as there is proper drainage” (14).

Searching for similar books will not yield fruitful results unless you dive into true ethnobotany. This type of research is probably outside of the interests of the target readers, yet in the realm of conscious consumers, there may very well be a place for this book.By including the folklore surrounding historical tales and the symbology of certain fruits, Low has added an interesting take on selecting ingredients or indulging in an uncommon treat. The extensive references provided for each fruit would also be valuable to those interested in investing in cultivation of Asian species.

Hopefully, readers will take the medicinal lore included about most of the fruits with a grain of salt. Mention of the Jackfruit being used to treat diabetes is not always coupled with words of caution. Fruits that do provide some warning, like Ginkgo, warns about the toxicity of consumption, but also states that “there are a number of major and minor drug interactions with ginkgo listed on the WebMd website,” (79) a concerning source to say the least.

If the libraray’s patronage includes food science students, an interest in Asian foods, or entrepreneurial farmers then Low can hit her goal “to familiarize the reader with Asian fruits and berries” (1). Others may not be convinced they need a finger from a five-dollar Buddha’s Hand in their tea.— Megan Carlton, Science Librarian, The University of North Carolina Greensboro.


Barack Obama: A Life in American History. By F. Erik Brooks and MaCherie M. Placide. Black History Lives. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 2019. 218 pages. Acid-free $63 (ISBN 978-1-4408-5913-7). Ebook Available (978-1-4408-5914-4), call for pricing.

Barack Obama: A Life in American History by F. Erik Brooks and MaCherie M. Placide chronicles the life and presidency of Barack Hussein Obama, forty-fourth president of the United States.  This work recounts Obama’s triumph over personal obstacles to become the first African American chief executive and is part of publisher ABC-CLIO’s series, Black History Lives.  While information concerning Obama’s life is a necessary component of this work, this is not its sole focus.  Rather, additional objectives are to highlight those events and relationships that had a pivotal influence on Obama’s beliefs and political agenda and underscore his historical importance, cultural significance, and impact on the world. 

This reference work opens by describing Obama’s early life and childhood in Hawaii.  It discusses his relationships with his parents and upbringing by maternal grandparents beginning at age ten as well as his complex search for racial identity as a result of being born of parents of different ethnic backgrounds. It continues with his experiences as an undergraduate student and their impact on his development followed by his tenure as a community organizer in Chicago whereby he found his calling for public service and discovered his political identity.  This leads to his legal education, early career, marriage and birth of his daughters, positions as both an Illinois State and United States Senator, presidential campaign and the events of both of Obama’s presidential terms. 

Given its dual purpose, in addition to biographical narrative, this work provides the reader with those events, relationships, and other influences that helped shape Obama’s world.  This is primarily what distinguishes it from other biographical accounts.  For example, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, eminent legislation that opened doors for not only Obama, but all African Americans is examined.  Similarly, sidebars featuring prominent individuals who impacted Obama in some manner during his life including Jesse Jackson, John Kerry, and Carol Moseley Braun appear throughout the book.

This work concludes with Brooks’ and Placide’s analysis of Obama’s presidential impact and legacy.  In their chapter “Why Barack Obama Matters,” the authors illustrate the historical and cultural effects Obama’s presidency had on society. Obama’s presidency was historic in that it ended years of unsuccessful attempts by African Americans to win the White House.  The authors argue however, that his legacy extends much beyond that to include such significant accomplishments as winning a Nobel Peace Prize and being a critical component of the most substantial renovation of United States healthcare law and coverage since 1965, The Affordable Care Act.

Barack Obama: A Life in American History is valuable for its insight into the events, circumstances, and people who shaped Obama into the president he became.  It includes a detailed timeline of events, a collection of transcripts, a bibliography with URLs for additional reading and research, and an index.  This work will appeal to any reader interested in political processes or seeking a detailed account of Barack Obama’s rise from childhood to the presidency and is therefore suited for public and academic libraries.—Dianna Kim, Assistant Professor/Research and Instruction Librarian, Sam Houston State University, Huntsville, Texas


Black Baseball, 1858-1900: A Comprehensive Record of the Teams, Players, Managers, Owners and Umpires.By James E. Brunson III. Foreword by John Thorn. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2019. 3 vols. Acid Free $99 (ISBN 978-0-7864-9417-0). Ebook Available (978-1-4766-1658-2), call for pricing.        

In his foreword, John Thorn, the Official Baseball Historian for Major League Baseball, makes the case for the value of Black Baseball: while Jackie Robinson plays an important role in the American popular consciousness and there is increasing recognition of the players of the Negro Leagues, there is still a need for serious study about the “black players of long ago who built the bridge” that later individuals crossed (1). James Brunson III accomplishes this task in Black Baseball, which is the result of over two decades worth of archival research. Over the course of three volumes, Brunson provides a complete overview not just of black baseball teams and players from the period of 1858 to 1900, but of the society from which black baseball emerged.

The majority of Black Baseball is given to two lists. The first, contained in volume one, is of team profiles, organized by state, city, and team name. The second, split over volumes two and three, is a player register, listed in alphabetical order by last name. Both of these sections include as much identifiable information about their subjects as possible, drawn from mentions in historical newspapers which are cited with each entry. Brunson also has built lists of black umpires and of the contact information for team managers. The latter is especially valuable for understanding the nature of black baseball at this time, which did not operate in organized leagues.

Beyond the lists, Brunson has also included a number of essays which provide important contextual information about the economic, political, and social factors which shaped black life in the latter half of the 19th century, and which further influenced the form of black baseball. The essays cover topics including the importance of black barbers and hotel waitstaff to the formation of early teams, the connection between black mutual aid societies and black baseball, and the figure of the black umpire. These essays make use of Brunson’s extensive archival research, as well as cite the work of other scholars of baseball and black history.

The essays and lists generated from Brunson’s research are a useful starting point for individuals seeking to learn about black baseball history. The provision of citations for each entry also make this a valuable resource for scholars doing research on baseball and black society and culture more broadly. The combination of the lack of coverage on this topic with the exhaustive research presented here makes Black Baseball a recommended addition to public and academic library collections.—Kapil Vasudev, Education Librarian, The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio


Carolina Beach Music Encyclopedia. By Rick Simmons. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2018. 330 pages. $49.95. (ISBN 978-1-4766-6767-6). Ebook Available (978-1-4766-3153-0), call for pricing.

Initially rooted in post-WWII rhythm and blues, also called “race music” at the time, beach music was introduced to locals and vacationers on the jukeboxes and in dance pavilions on the Carolina coast because the songs were not played on white radio stations. Simmons succinctly describes the evolution of beach music over the decades to encompass songs about “sand, the surf, salt air, spring break, summer vacation, … the Myrtle Beach Pavilion, girl watching, regional R&B bands, … the boardwalk, young love…” (7). The introduction notes that beach music should not be conflated with shag music, a broader category with the same tempo as beach music and suited to dancing the shag, the state dance of South Carolina. This narrowly defined specialized encyclopedia is the author’s passionate response aimed at addressing this perceived misconception and filling the gap of a well-sourced reference for beach music from the east coast.          

The preface and introduction provide needed context for appreciating the established parameters of the work, although Simmons admits that the primary appeal is to those with some knowledge of the subject matter. Rather than attempting a comprehensive review from post-war to present, this work focuses on music recorded between 1940-1980 that represents the R&B-influenced sound of Carolina beach music. National acts such as The Drifters, The Temptations, The Tams, and The Embers are covered alongside more regional favorites enshrined in the beach music canon. As a former resident of South Carolina, this reviewer was fascinated by mention of locations along the coast and their place in the region’s music history.           

The strength of the work lies in the researched details for each group or individual entry, beginning with a discography exclusively listing their contributions to beach music, catalog number and release date, and success on Billboard Pop or R&B charts. Biographical information describes personal and professional career arcs, including unique details gathered during Simmons’s personal conversations with musicians. Photographs of artists and images of records evoke the personalities that contributed to beach music. Song titles as well as artists are indexed, leading users to origin stories for songs such as “Just a Gigolo/I Ain’t Got Nobody.” Extensive research is evident throughout, including details about original songwriters and recording artists that create compelling stories of music that continues to find an audience on the beach and on satellite radio stations.

Fans of beach music may enjoy debating the choices Simmons made when assembling this list, and avid scholars may wish for in-text citations or suggested readings for each entry rather than an overall Works Cited section. Recommended to fans of classic beach music and libraries that support popular music collections.—Amy F. Fyn, Business Librarian, Halle Library, Eastern Michigan University, Ypsilanti, Michigan 


The Christopher Lee Film Encyclopedia. By Robert W. Pohle, Jr., Douglas C. Hart, and Rita Pohle Baldwin. Forward by Tim Burton and Johny Depp. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2017. 377 pages. Alkaline. $100.00. (ISBN 978-0-8108-9269-9). E-book available (978-0-8108-9270-5), call for pricing.

Typecasting is the bane of every actor; British thespian Christopher Lee (1922-2015) will forever be associated with the role of vampire Count Dracula, having reprised this character in no fewer than ten films in a span of eighteen years. Be that as it may, Lee had an incredibly diverse career. As this alphabetically arranged catalog of his cinematic output will attest, Lee appeared in everything from the highbrow (Hamlet, 1948) to the middlebrow (The Man with the Golden Gun, 1974 [starring opposite Roger Moore in the “James Bond” franchise]) to the seemingly no-brow (The Castle of the Walking Dead, 1967 [Lee himself, attempting to say something positive concerning this bomb, states that the movie “…made a lot of money in Germany” (31), which might make the reader question Teutonic taste]).

Each entry follows a standard format: (1) Name of film in bold print (with alternate title, if any), (2) Basic facts concerning production, such as Director/Screenplay/Cast/Running Time, etc., (3) A synopsis of the plot, (4) Excerpts from published reviews at the time of the film’s release, (5) Notes, which is essentially trivia concerning said film, and, the real draw here, (6) Sir Christopher’s recollections concerning his experience in each movie, which provides a fascinating “behind the scenes” look at modern day movie making. While illustrated with black and white still photos from various films, they are relatively few in number; one would have hoped for a larger selection.

Special features include seven appendices covering such topics as Lee’s voice work, television appearances, and so on, all of which indicates the truly astounding resume the man accrued over the course of his eight-decade career. An ample bibliography and index round out this nearly 400-page volume.

Authors Pohle and Hart previously collaborated to produce Sherlock Holmes on the Screen: The Motion Picture Adventures of the World’s Most Popular Detective (A. S. Barnes, 1977), and since then have individually written a number of film related books.  Pohle Baldwin is simply listed as having “acted in film and theater and is a lifelong classic film enthusiast” (“About the Authors,” 377).

Well written, well researched, with many interesting and personal anecdotes from Lee, who in addition to having been a world class actor, was also a master raconteur, this comprehensive collection of his life’s work is sure to appeal to film buffs in general. Horror fans in particular will really be able to sink their teeth into this volume, as this fang-tastic book makes for a bloody good read (sorry, I held off as long as I could).—Michael F. Bemis, Retired Reference Librarian. Formerly employed by Washington County Public Library, Oakdale, MN


The Civil Rights Movement: A Reference Guide. 2nd Ed. By Peter B. Levy. Guides to Historic Events in America. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 2019. 282 pages. Acid free $63 (ISBN 978-1-4408-6300-4). Ebook Available (978-1-44086301-1), call for pricing.

The past few years have often proven that the journey for racial equality continues and that understanding the past allows for making connections to today and the future.  The Civil Rights Movement: A Reference Guide provides essays and primary documents of the past to educate each reader regarding the future of civil rights.

The previous edition (The Civil Rights Movement: A Reference Guide, 1998), contained a chronology of events, key essays, biographical essays, and primary sources meant to inform the reader of events and important leaders of the civil rights movement of the 20th Century. In the second edition, Levy has fully updated this informative ready reference guide to expand the vision of the civil rights movement into the 21st Century.

Significant updates to the second edition include the expansion of information regarding the struggles for civil rights in the 1940s and 1950s.  This includes a new section on the lynching of Emmett Till and the battle for equality in the North, as well as in the deep South.  Also, as a stronger representation of the important role that women played in the civil rights movement, the biographies have been revised to include three additional women: Septima Clark, Nina Sizemore, and Angela Davis. The author additionally makes connections between the black civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s to the rise of recent movements for racial equality, in the new chapter entitled “From Civil Rights to Black Lives Matter” (149).

The table of contents are now fully detailed, an obvious improvement for any user of the guide, to locate the biographical essays and primary documents.  The inclusion of an extensive annotated bibliography, which includes books, films, and websites adds an additional essential detail of this ready reference guide.

One could criticize the lack of additional biographical essays of leaders in the movement of the late 20th and the early 21st century.  However, as mentioned above, the author’s broad annotated bibliography points users to other resources for future study. With that in mind, this updated guide is recommended as an important resource for high school and college libraries. – Susan Springer, Assistant Librarian, Holmes Community College, Ridgeland, MS.


Climate Change Politics and Policies in America: Historical and Modern Documents in Context. By Jerald C. Mast. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 2018. 2 vols. Acid-free $182 (ISBN 978-1-4408-5970-0). Ebook Available (978-1-4408-5971-7), call for pricing.

This primary source-heavy reference work compiles over a century of documents pertaining to climate change, energy production, environmental regulation, and other political actions into a concise 2-volume set. Each of the seven chapters begins with a ~10 page essay setting up context for the collection of sources that follows. Essays conclude with substantial bibliographies offering additional sources related to the chapter’s range of coverage. Chapters and their contents are ordered chronologically, spanning the presidential administrations of Theodore Roosevelt and Donald Trump. All entries are prefaced by a brief paragraph explaining the document/source and how they fit into the larger scope of the work.   

Talk of climate change at the national level really begins to pick up in the late 1970s with the National Climate Program Act (1978) establishing “the legal underpinnings of the first governmental efforts to address climate change and its impacts on American communities and businesses” (62).  From here, actions such as the signing of the Montreal Protocol on Ozone-Depleting Substances (1988, Reagan), the Reauthorization of the Clean Air Act (1990, Bush I), the release of the Climate Change Action Plan (1993, Clinton), and the Global Climate Change Policy Book (2002, Bush II) help give shape to the American reaction and response to climate-related issues as they became increasingly present in the national discourse.

With climate change being such a contentious topic in recent decades, reference works such as this are especially valuable in that they tell the history of how we got here, documenting  the evolution of the American stance on the issues over many years. Researchers may be tempted to glean current news coverage and jump right into the present questions and controversies without stepping back and reviewing some of the key documents and discussions leading up to this point. This title offers researchers of various levels a convenient starting point from which to begin surveying the timeline of progress (or lack thereof) in the climate change debate through the unique lens of the U.S. It would be a nice addition to libraries serving high school students through undergrads.           

While there are scores of encyclopedias and other reference works covering environmental policy and global climate change, this would appear to be the first chronology of documents and commentary on how the U.S. has experienced and wrestled with the issue. For broader research on the topic, one might consult titles such as Climate Change: An Encyclopedia of Science, Society, and Solutions (ABC-CLIO, 2017), Handbook of Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation (Springer, 2017), Encyclopedia of Global Warming & Climate Change (SAGE, 2012), or Climate Change: A Reference Handbook (ABC-CLIO, 2009).—Todd J. Wiebe, Head of Research & Instruction, Hope College, Holland, MI.


The Cold War: Interpreting Conflict through Primary Documents. Edited by Priscilla Roberts. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 2019. 2 vols. Acid-free $215 (ISBN 978-1-4408-5211-4). Ebook Available (978-1-4408-5212-1), call for pricing.

Here we have another ABC-CLIO reference set devoted to a specific historical period, with primary sources taking center stage to tell the story. In The Cold War, Roberts has curated 218 documents spanning the Bolshevik Revolution (1917) to the early 1990s when tensions had eased and the post-Cold War era was emerging.

The front matter in Volume 1 consists of a “List of Documents,” a short essay titled “The Cold War: An Introduction,” and a “Cold War Chronology.” Then begins the run of primary documents appearing in chronological order and each accompanied by an introduction and analysis. This commentary is vital to understanding the documents, situating each piece in its proper context by offering further explanation and insight to where they fit into the bigger picture of the time. Documents types include political speeches, letters, articles, declarations, communiqués, legislation, treaties, diary entries, personal testimonies, etc. Volume 2 concludes with a “Select Bibliography” and “Important Websites for Study of the Cold War,” providing a compendium of related materials for a broader look at the period. When most people think of the Cold War, the United States and Soviet Union often come to mind, but the documents here show the global scale and impact of the period, with sources accounting for Asian and Middle Eastern perspectives as well.     

This reviewer believes the strength of this reference work lies in the above-mentioned commentary appended to each document entry. Users of these volumes will of course need to do additional research to fully understand the importance and impact of each source, but Robert’s analysis sufficiently lays out the surrounding issues and social and political climate in which they were conceived. These volumes are very text-heavy, without a single image or graphic of any sort, which one might expect from “primary documents” descriptor rather than the more inclusive “primary sources.”

There are other important reference works pertaining to the Cold War, the most notable being The Encyclopedia of the Cold War: A Political, Social, and Military History: A Political, Social, and Military History (ABC-CLIO, 2007). As for comprehensive collections of primary documents on the topic, however, Roberts’ new publication is, to this reviewer’s knowledge, a unique contribution to the literature.

These volumes could be beneficial to students and researchers of 20th Century history ranging from the high school level to college undergraduate. It would perhaps be a nice addition to the personal library of a Cold War historian for quick access to its trove of primary documents, as well.—Todd J. Wiebe, Head of Research & Instruction, Hope College, Holland, MI.


Conspiracies and Conspiracy Theories in American History.  Edited by Christopher R. Fee and Jeffrey B. Webb.  Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 2019.  2 vols.  Acid-free $198 (ISBN 978-1-4408-5810-9). Ebook Available (978-1-4408-5811-6), call for pricing.

In their introduction to Conspiracies and Conspiracy Theories in American History, editors Fee and Webb observe that “Throughout American history, actual conspiracies and far-fetched conspiracy theories have worked hand in glove to produce a deep seated, reflexive paranoia that pulses just below the surface of American public life”(xx).  The extent to which conspiracies and conspiracy theories are ingrained into American society and culture is well documented in the editors’ substantive introduction and in their thematic essays that precede the A-Z entries. Within these essays, the editors summarize numerous well known and obscure conspiracies and conspiracy theories in business, the military and intelligence agencies, politics, popular culture, and science and technology. They also offer an insightful discussion of the psychological factors that lead people toward conspiratorial thinking.

Following the essays are alphabetized entries that extend from current conspiracies such as Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election back to colonial figures such as Benedict Arnold.  Readers will of course find much discussion of the more prevalent conspiracy theories such as Area 51 and UFOs; however, they will also encounter theories with which they may be unfamiliar: such as the theory that physicist Stephen Hawking actually died in the 1980s and was replaced by an imposter. While some of the topics covered have a decidedly humorous tone (Elvis faked his death and entered the Witness Protection Program), many serve as stark reminders of how people are highly susceptible to theories which reinforce their belief that sinister unseen forces (the US government, bankers, or even extraterrestrials) are secretly controlling their lives.

The entries, written by approximately ninety contributors, are of uniformly good quality.  They dutifully untangle the known conspiracy facts from the related unsubstantiated conspiracy theories. Each entry concludes with a Further Reading list to direct readers to additional resources on each topic.

Conspiracies and Conspiracy Theories in American History is the latest addition to a growing body of information on conspiratorial beliefs and is recommended for academic and public libraries. It is similar in scope and format to Peter Knight’s Conspiracy Theories in American History: An Encyclopedia (ABC-CLIO, 2003).  Libraries that have found Knight’s encyclopedia useful will want to purchase Conspiracies and Conspiracy Theories in American History as a valuable update.—Edward Whatley, Instruction & Research Services Librarian, Georgia College & State University, Milledgeville, GA.


Daily Life in Nazi-Occupied Europe. By Harold J. Goldberg. The Greenwood Press Daily Life Through History Series. Santa Barbara, CA: Greenwood, 2019. 282 pages. Acid free $63 (ISBN 978-1-4408-5911-3). Ebook Available (978-1-4408-5912-0), call for pricing.

When reflecting on the rise of Fascism throughout Europe in the 1930s and 1940s, images of citizens celebrating their new fascist leaders often come to mind. Be it parades, large gatherings in front of government buildings, and the like, it is easy to assume that is what life was like under such regimes. But is that a true reflection of daily life under a Nazi regime? Daily Life in Nazi-Occupied Europe attempts to demystify what daily life was actually like throughout Nazi-occupied Europe.

According to author Mark Carrier, this book is “designed not to establish one daily life, but rather to give the reader a glimpse of the variety of lives experienced during the Nazi occupation” (xiv). This single-volume reference set is organized into nine chapters. Each chapter is dedicated to a specific aspect of daily life; political, military, economic, domestic and material, intellectual, recreational, religious, resistance, and the Holocaust. Within each chapter, subtopics include specific countries/regions under Nazi occupation, as well as specific people and events related to the chapter, such as the Battle of Britain, politics in sports, and Anne Frank. Chapters and sections are well focused on the topic at hand and are written clearly and succinctly. As a result, the readability and browsability of this volume is exceptional. Also included in this set is a list of forty-five films about World War II organized by country, eighteen museums visited by the author that supported the content of the volume, a detailed bibliography of sources cited throughout the volume, and an always-helpful index to enhance access to the content of the book.

In fact, this reference volume is so smoothly written, and topics flow so seamlessly from one to the next, that it would also benefit from belonging to a circulating collection as well. Between the lean 282 page count, affordable price, and small physical footprint, collection development librarians should perhaps consider purchasing two copies of this set; one for a non-circulating reference collection and one for a circulating stacks collection.

Daily Life in Nazi-Occupied Europe is an exceptional reference work on a sadly all-too-relevant topic. It provides great insight into what life was truly like not just in Nazi Germany, but all throughout the European continent. This volume will be of great value to political science and history students studying this pivotal moment in the 20th century and would be a welcome addition to any public or academic library. – Matthew Laudicina, Senior Reference Librarian, Manuscripts and Special Collections, New York State Library.


Daily Life of Women in the Progressive Era. By Kirstin Olsen. The Greenwood Press Daily Life Through History Series. Santa Barbara, CA: Greenwood, 2019. Acid free $61 (ISBN 978-1-4408-6328-8). Ebook Available (978-1-4408-6329-5), call for pricing.

The Progressive Era, generally considered to have occurred between 1890 and 1920, was a time of tremendous change in many aspects of American life. Women in particular saw significant changes in how they lived politically, economically, and within society. Daily Life of Women in the Progressive Era is here to enhance the understanding not only of the Progressive Era, but the ways in which women experienced the many social changes that took place throughout the era.

This single-volume reference set is organized into seven chapters on the following aspects of daily life: domestic, economic, intellectual, material, political, recreational, and religious. Each chapter consists of approximately thirty pages. Several subheadings are peppered throughout each chapter to provide further topical organization and ideological flow. The extended length of each chapter allows author Kirstin Olsen to delve into detail how each aspect of the daily lives of women changed within the context of each. As a result, the depth of discussion is allowed ample room to develop, creating a reference source rich in detailed information, yet still easily accessible for both the novice and experienced researcher alike.

This volume begins with a detailed timeline of events associated with the Progressive Era that provides a big-picture overview of the time period. A short, but very informative and helpful glossary provides further contextual information on the Progressive Era, providing definitions of such terms as bohemians, Gibson Girl, and WCTU (Woman’s Christian Temperance Union). A thorough index enables quick and easy identification of specific topics, further enhancing the searchability and findability of information within the text.

Of particular interest to researchers will be the exhaustive bibliography included in the appendices of this text. Spanning over thirty pages and one hundred plus resources, students and scholars will rejoice at the inclusion of an exhaustive list of additional sources that will further enhance their study and understanding of the Progressive Era. As great as this volume is on its own, its value is further enhanced as a launch pad for further, more in-depth research in a wealth of additional resources on the various topics covered throughout the text.

Daily Life of Women in the Progressive Era is easy to recommend without reservation. The content, writing style, and organization of this volume render it an essential acquisition for academic libraries serving students of American history. That such quality and quantity of information and discussion is enclosed in a single-volume work covering an important and expansive topic as how the lives of women evolved during the Progressive Era is an impressive achievement. – Matthew Laudicina, Senior Reference Librarian, Manuscripts and Special Collections, New York State Library.


Encyclopedia of Stateless Nations: Ethnic and National Groups around the World. 2nd Ed. By James B. Minahan. Santa Barbara, CA:  Greenwood, 2016. 568 pages. Acid free $100 (ISBN 978-1-6106-9953-2). Ebook available (978-1-61069-954-9), call for pricing.

A stateless nation is an ethnic group which shares a common culture but is not the majority in any state. This presents a unique challenge in discussing political, social, and cultural issues and complicates the study of human geography, as it becomes difficult to define these groups.

Written by James B. Minhan, the Encyclopedia of Stateless Nations, Second Edition, is an overview of these ethnic and national groups. Each entry has basic facts about the group, including official and unofficial names, population estimates, a description of their homeland, and their proposed state, followed by a brief (usually no longer than a page) summary of the group’s history. There are also a few citations included for further reading.

James B. Minhan, in addition to being the author of the first edition of this encyclopedia, is a prolific author on the subject of stateless nations and all of the most relevant material found on stateless nations in recent years appears to be his work. This encyclopedia in some ways can be seen a summary of his other work; he is the author of, most recently, Ethnic Groups of North, East, and Central Asia: An Encyclopedia (ABC-CLIO, 2014) and other titles which are part of a series: Ethnic Groups of the World.

Researchers will note that this second edition is much shorter by pagination than the first edition, but what it lacks in length, it makes up for in completeness; the first was a four-volume set with 300 entries while this edition is in one volume with 420 entries. The pagination discrepancy is largely due to different formatting and content for each group does not appear to be affected. The new volume does lack images for flags and geographic boundaries, but these are both described in detail in the text of each entry.  The inset with name, population, location description (labeled homeland), flag description, and proposed state name is especially handy for quick reference.

This volume is recommended for academic libraries that support robust political science programs at the undergraduate level, as well as programs in global studies, human geography, international relations, and other adjacent fields. It is a much-needed update that provides insight into the changing world, as religious, political, and social disputes spur the desire for independence.—Jennifer Joe, Undergraduate Engagement Librarian, University of Toledo, Toledo, OH


Encyclopedia of Weird Detectives: Supernatural and Paranormal Elements in Novels, Pulps, Comics, Film, Television, Games and Other Media. By Paul Green, Foreword by Frank Price. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2019. 207 pages. $45 (ISBN 978-1-4766-7800-9). Ebook Available (978-1-4766-3837-9), call for pricing.

Green’s book opens with a “Foreword” by motion picture executive Frank Price, who has been instrumental in the modern development of the weird detective genre. A “Preface” identifies the various kinds of weird detectives and explains that the work concentrates on “supernatural and paranormal” (3) examples, and is followed by an “Introduction” tracing the genre’s development. Concluding the work are an “Appendix: Listing by Medium,” a brief “Bibliography,” and an “Index” listing titles and the names of some (but only some) characters and authors.

The main body of the encyclopedia is an alphabetical arrangement of title and character entries, with the latter listed (sometimes inconsistently) by professional title or first name. As the book’s subtitle indicates, the range of print and nonprint materials covered is impressively wide, and there are black-and-white illustrations throughout. However, there are inconsistencies in its approach to categorization that make it difficult to consult as a reference tool. Some detectives are discussed under the titles of the works they appear in, while others are discussed under their names. The television series The X Files, for example, appears under its title rather than under the names of either of its main characters. Seabury Quinn’s physician/detective Jules de Grandin, however, is discussed under his name. Arthur Machen’s flaneur Dyson is discussed in an entry for the 1894 novelette “The Inmost Light,” but Green fails to mention the other works that he appears in and omits him from the “Index.”

A few of Green’s entries conclude with “See” references, but his use of these is also inconsistent. The important 1908 collection John Silence: Physician Extraordinary by Algernon Blackwood receives a substantial entry (including summaries of each story) under its title, but a later Silence story, “A Victim of Higher Space,” is given a separate entry in the “V’s.” A listing under Blackwood himself in the “Index” leads the reader to both entries, but while the story entry ends with a “See” reference to the collection, there is no such reference from the collection to the story.

Several authors are missing from the “Index,” even though their works themselves are indexed and discussed. The most surprising example is William Hope Hodgson, whose influence on the genre has been greater than Blackwood’s. Readers must know that the full name of Hodgson’s detective is Thomas Carnacki in order to find an entry under his name in the T’s for the stories in the 1913 collection Carnacki the Ghost Finder. The entry summarizes the first story but merely lists the others, and while it explains that the character has subsequently been taken up by other authors, it refers to only one example. A more substantial entry would have made the importance of Hodgson’s contribution clearer, and given the fact that Green lists the title of every episode of every season of the television series he includes, it is not clear why he has not done so.

In some cases, detectives are discussed even though their creators’ names and the titles of the works in which they appear are omitted from the “Index.” In addition, at least one important writer is simply overlooked. This is M.P. Shiel (1865-1947), whose decadent character Prince Zaleski (introduced in an 1895 collection of the same name) is arguably the weirdest detective of all.

Given its broad coverage, Encyclopedia of Weird Detectives would be an appropriate addition to circulating collections emphasizing popular culture, especially those serving younger users, but it cannot be recommended for reference collections.—Grove Koger, Retired Reference Librarian, Independent Scholar, Boise, Idaho


Encyclopedia of Women in World Religions: Faith and Culture across History. Edited by Susan de-Gaia. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 2019.  2 vols. acid free $198 (ISBN 978-1-4408-4849-0).  Ebook available (978-1-4408-4850-6), call for pricing.

In her work, Encyclopedia of Women in World Religions (EWWR), Susan de-Gaia provides a notable and diverse collection of encyclopedic entries relating to women and their roles in world religions. 

The editor notes that EWWR “is designed to complement general studies of religion” (p. xxv).  Subsequently, EWWR does not offer general descriptions of world religions, instead it focuses upon specifics of women in religion (p. xxv).  EWWR’s warrant for pursuing such a distinct field comes from de-Gaia’s argument that the lives of women are often made invisible by writers of history, and subsequently overlooked in many scholarly works (p. xxv).  The editor is aiming to counter this and does so exceptionally with EWWR.

The editor provides a unique and intriguing flavor to EWWR: EWWR does not explicitly cover specific women who have impacted religious movements.  For example, there is brief discussion regarding Kate Kelly, who was excommunicated from the Mormon Church for refusing to stop promoting women’s rights to ordination.  However, she is discussed under the broader topic of “Mormonism” – which is a subheading under “Christianity.”  The focus of EWWR is related to women in religion, but quite specific: it looks at issues related to world religions through the lens of women’s studies.

For example, an article entitled “Daoism in China,” under the broader heading of Daoism, while providing a brief overview describing the topic, focuses upon how women were involved in various facets of Daoism.  This entry provides an excellent picture of Daoism in China through the lens of women’s studies, making EWWR a unique resource assessing world religions through a distinct lens.

While there are a handful of works that aim to mimic this model that have been published in the last 10 years, EWWR is unique in that it provides both a global perspective and serves as a reference work, providing a gateway for students and faculty to learn more about the impact women have had upon world religions.

EWWR is organized first by ancient religion and then by topics related to that religion.  Each religion has an introduction providing both an overview of the religion and a summary of women’s roles in that religion.  EWWR then has differing topics under each religion.  While there is some overlap (for example, the topic of abortion is covered under both Buddhism and Christianity), the articles in each section are distinct and cover that topic from that religious perspective, particularly looking at how it impacted women in that religion.  The unique focus of each entry combined with the encyclopedic nature of EWWR makes for an excellent reference work for any library.

Each entry of EWWR has a “Further Reading” section.  While this is a common resource in many reference works, with EWWR providing an overview of specific topics, the inclusion of it empowers the reader to continue their research.

EWWR also provides a timeline at the beginning of each volume.  This timeline is organized by era and provides a general overview of what took place in that era for different religions.  While the timeline is helpful, the fact that EWWR looks at various dynamics of religion and religious movements and how they impacted women, does make it difficult to utilize.  For example, one of the topics is “Peacemaking” (classified under the broader heading “Islam”).  How would one adapt this to a timeline?  While the timeline is helpful, one should not expect it to provide a chronological overview of women who have impacted religious studies.

When used appropriately as a resource which touches upon specific dynamics of religion viewed through a woman’s lens, EWWR is an excellent resource that would be useful in any library pursuing religious or women’s studies.—Garrett B. Trott, University Librarian, Corban University, Salem, Oregon


Geography Today: An Encyclopedia of Concepts, Issues, and Technology.  Edited by Ian Muehlenhaus.  Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 2019.  395 pages.  Acid-free $97 (ISBN 978-1-4408-7226-6).  Ebook Available (978-1-4408-7227-3), call for pricing.

Geography Today: An Encyclopedia of Concepts, Issues and Technology takes a topical approach to issues addressed in most geography encyclopedias by region. Although a creative and helpful idea to engage students new to a discipline, there are problems when executing this method, including a lack of depth for addressing complex topics, some issues with source material, and a lack of critical spatial context for students possibly encountering some of the topics for the first time.

The book addresses geographic principles with sections on mapping and technology, regional, physical, human, and environmental geography, and “Geography in Action,” followed by an A-Z list of entries. Each of the sections include a “Further Reading” list as a pointer to other relevant works.

The “Geography in Action” section provides case studies dealing with current geography issues. It could stand alone in an undergraduate survey course as a supplemental text. With a focus on topics such as renewable energy in China, women’s access to potable water in Madagascar, and the African continent’s “Great Green Wall,” this section brings geography alive through timely, relevant examples to readers both new and familiar to the discipline.

The encyclopedia also features many up-to-date entries on concepts such as Brexit, GMOs, and remote sensing technologies. This is a helpful resource for those interested in current geography topics that may not be addressed in other subject encyclopedias.

Taking the topical approach leads to several instances where complex ideas and issues are broadly addressed rather than given a deeper treatment that would be possible in a geographic-based encyclopedia. In the section on environmental geography, for example, invasive species are given a wide stroke when these species’ impacts vary greatly by location. Even with the examples given, zebra mussels and West Nile Virus, the unfortunate result is a glossing over of the intricacies of invasive species issues. Addressing these concepts without the help of a spatial-based connection adds to the reader’s cognitive burden and confusion rather than easing it. To compound reader confusion, not enough figures, tables, or infographics are included. Adding graphical representations of data in several areas would better serve continued reader engagement and understanding.

Although source material for the encyclopedia is sufficiently academic, in some cases, reliance on popular works would have been better served instead with knowledge checks posed to students to help them internalize the information and interpret it based on their own experiences.

There are also instances throughout where phrasing is more popular than academic in style, lending a less-than-authoritative air to the work. The terminology and some of the source material greatly limits this encyclopedia’s ability to sit on a shelf at a level above 12th grade.

Throwing out the old geographical-based framework to embrace a topical stance in dealing with a complex and evolving topic such as geography is a challenge that would have been better served by limiting the encyclopedia to one sub-discipline of geography to afford space for more depth of treatment. –Stacy H. Johnson, Assistant Professor, Sam Houston State University, Huntsville, Texas 


Global Crime: An Encyclopedia of Cyber Theft, Weapons Sales, and Other Illegal Activities. Edited by Philip L. Reichel. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 2019. 2 vols. Acid-free $198 (ISBN 978-1-4408-6014-0). Ebook Available (978-1-4408-6015-7), call for pricing.

This new two-volume encyclopedia includes more than 250 articles on topics related to “the events, people, organizations, and key terms that are relevant to global crime and its transnational aspects.” (xxiv). Individual entries range from Al Qaeda to Cyberbullying; Joaquin (El Chapo) Guzmán Loera to Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva to Timothy McVeigh; Hackers to Illicit Ivory Trade to Wildlife and Forest Crime. In addition to a thematic Introduction, volume one also contains a Chronology of events related to global crime. Volume two provides a useful section on primary source documents in the area of international law and enforcement, such as (for example), the “United Nations Protocol to Prevent, Suppress, and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, Supplementing the United National Convention against Transnational Organized Crime.” In addition to reproducing the text of these important source documents, individual articles provide historical context and thematic analysis of many efforts to coordinate response and enforcement against transnational criminal activities. Volume two also includes a lengthy bibliography, details on contributing editors and authors, and an index. In addition to the bibliography section, most individual entries provide references for further research.

As with some other reference works with numerous contributors (in this case more than 110 scholars and practitioners share their academic and practical expertise on the wide range of topics covered), the editorial quality of this encyclopedia is somewhat uneven. Several entries reviewed contained small errors, for example, ‘Sinola’ (instead of Sinaloa) is repeated several times in an article on the Tijuana Cartel (566-67). Or in an article on the Sinaloa Cartel, the phrase “free rite of passage” is used in the context of describing the right to pass through another cartel’s territory in order to cross the border into the U.S. from Mexico (518). An article on the Mexican organized criminal group known as the Zetas appears in the alphabetical arrangement of articles under Los Zetas, leading to the repetition of the definite article in the unfortunate phrase, “The Los Zetas transnational criminal organization…” (365).

The single volume Encyclopedia of Transnational Crime and Justice, edited by Margaret Beare (Sage, Thousand Oaks, CA, 2012) is the only other recent and comparable reference work appearing in a Worldcat subject search. It covers much of the same territory in a similar format to the work reviewed here; however, in this fast-changing field of study and action in the global context, the new encyclopedia provides a needed updating of the subject matter for today’s students and researchers.

This up-to-date and comprehensive reference work is essential to any university or college library at institutions offering programs in criminal justice, law, and/or comparative political studies. This new work on global and transnational crime and justice would also be of use in many larger public libraries.—Molly Molloy, Border & Latin American Specialist Emeritus, New Mexico State University, Las Cruces, NM


The Historian’s Scarlet Letter:  Reading Nathaniel Hawthorne’s Masterpiece as Social and Cultural History.  Edited by Melissa McFarland Pennell.  The Historian’s Annotated Classics.  Santa Barbara, CA:  Praeger, 2018. 261 pages. Acid-free $58 (ISBN 978-1-4408-4698-4). Ebook Available (978-1-4408-4699-1), call for pricing.

The Scarlet Letter has endured the test of time and remains one of the staples of high school and lower-level college reading lists.  There are quite a number of good editions of the work, the most popular being the traditional Penguin Classics edition or the Norton Critical edition.  But, no other volume offers so much additional content as The Historian’s Scarlet Letter. 

The work is full of information that would be immensely helpful for teachers of literature, history, fine arts, and more.  The first of such tidbits is in the “Preface” – a list of relevant The Scarlet Letter chapters and themes to be taught in conjunction with U.S. History lessons like early globalization, creating governments, and the war for independence (xv-xvi).  It is followed by a very comprehensive chronology covering 1607-1865, covering topics of “Key Events in New England and American History,” as well as “Key Events in Hawthorne’s Life and That of His Ancestors.” There are two chapters on Nathaniel Hawthorne’s life and legacy, which include careful consideration of the political and social themes of the time.  Following the full-text of the novel, a bibliography directs readers to a wide array of additional readings.

The text of The Scarlet Letter contained in this edition is exhaustively annotated.  Each chapter contains annotations on history, religion, literary style and meaning, science, art history, and more.  For example, on page 76 alone, annotations include a history of the first jail in Boston, a short biography on Isaac Johnson, a description of the Anglican Church, an explanation of wild plants, and an account of the excommunication of women.  These annotations give readers not only a broad sense of the context in which the novel was written, but information that allows students to make cross-curricular connections in their reading and comprehension.

The Historian’s Scarlet Letter can be compared to Coleman and Sisko’s Longman Annotated Edition of The Scarlet Letter (Pearson, 2007).  However, this edition by far has more content to help students with synthesizing the text and supplementary information to give context to the work.

This book is highly recommended for high school and college libraries with The Scarlet Letter as part of the curriculum.  Any scholar of Nathaniel Hawthorne should consider owning this work – its value would be recognized by the end of the first paragraph.—Cherie Hohertz, Dean of University Libraries and Research, University of Dallas, Irving, Texas


History of American Indians: Exploring Diverse Roots. By Robert R. McCoy and Steven M. Fountain. Santa Barbara, CA: Greenwood, 2017. 257 pages. Acid-free (ISBN 978-0-313-38682-4). Ebook Available (978-0-313-38683-1), call for pricing.

Steven Fountain and Robert McCoy, both of Washington State University, state admirable goals for this single volume: to emphasize the diversity of Native American cultures, Native American “adaptation and agency,” and persistence (x). The advertised claim to provide “a comprehensive look at the entirety of Native American history” is a substantial exaggeration and far too much for about 250 pages. The authors, however, were more realistic, noting that there are 562 federally recognized tribes as well as many others (ix), so completeness was not possible.

Some strengths as a reference work include the indexing, the profiles, and the chronology. The indexing, however, does not include entries in the chronology which are sometimes the only information on a person or an event. There is no distinction in the indexing between a relatively substantial amount of information, such as a profile, and a minor reference. The profiles are short biographies of individuals at the end of each chapter including a mix of well-known and lesser known individuals who were leaders or involved in significant events. Since these are indexed it is possible to find them by name or by the chapter topic, though not by any other characteristic such as tribal affiliation. The chronology is over 15 pages long, including about a page of events from prehistory.

This is a narrative history which contributes to it not being particularly well suited to reference use. References and further reading are predominantly academic books. Throughout most chapters, citations are scarce to nonexistent, leaving the reader to guess at the sources of specific information. This sets a poor example and detracts from scholarly value. The brevity of the work may be a cause of the absence of a glossary but also contributes to the need for more context or supporting details in some instances. The Kiowa, for example, are mentioned here and there but little information is provided beyond conflicts and government interactions involving them, and the general area where they were.

One alternative is 50 Events That Shaped American Indian History edited byMartinez and Williams Bordeaux (Greenwood, 2017). Eight chronologically arranged chapters describe a total of fifty major “events,” some as long-term as 700 years of Mesa Verde cultures. Martinez and Williams Bordeaux limit comprehensiveness even more than is the case in History of American Indians, butitallows more attention to each topic. Fredrick E. Hoxie’s The Oxford Handbook of American Indian History (Oxford, 2016) at $150 costs nearly 3 times as much but is also much larger and more thorough in citing sources, and includes maps, which are lacking in History of American Indians.

Some less current options include The Handbook of North American Indians (Smithsonian Institution, 2008) and The Cambridge History of the Native Peoples of the Americas (Cambridge University Press, 1996-2000), which remain valuable scholarly reference works but may present challenges in terms of price, currency, or shelf space. Murphree’s Native America: a state-by-state historical encyclopedia (Greenwood, 2012) has an unusual arrangement, by state, with each entry featuring a chronology, historical overview, notable Indians of the state, cultural contributions, and a selected bibliography.

While Fountain and McCoy achieve their goals to a fair degree, the attempt to cover so much ground in so little space leads to substantial incompleteness, and the arrangements and features that could help the narrative work as a reference are insufficient. It would be a better choice in a general collection for a lower level undergraduate audience than for a reference collection.—Lisa Euster, Reference Librarian, Seattle, Washington


The History of Christianity: Facts and Fictions. By Dyron B. Daughrity. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 2019.  235 pages.  Acid free $61 (ISBN 978-1-4408-6337-0).  Ebook available (978-1-4408-6338-7), call for pricing.

There are several works available which assess and critique the historicity of the Christian faith.  At first glance, Daughrity’s work appears to simply be another of these works.  However, it only takes reading the first chapter to discover that while his work, The History of Christianity: Facts and Fictions, does have similarities with others, it also has some intriguing dynamics making it a unique and powerful reference tool.

Daughrity divides each chapter into two parts: “how the story became popular” and “what really happened.”  The first part looks at how the fictional component became popular.  This part of Daughrity’s work is intriguing.  He provides a historical picture of how many of these fictional ideas developed and became engrained in what has been accepted among many individuals: religious and non-religious alike.  Daughrity utilized primary resources to trace the development of these historical fallacies.  The second part, “what really happened” mimics the first part in style, utilizing primary resources to point to an accurate picture of what really took place. 

One of the tools assisting a researcher is the bibliography in each chapter.  While bibliographies are common resources, Daughrity’s inclusion of a bibliography in each chapter is notable as it enables an individual pursuing the specific question which Daughrity chooses to address to discover more information on that question.  One should note that while there is a bit of overlap between the bibliographies at the end of each chapter and the bibliography at the end of this book, the different bibliographies are aimed at two specific purposes.  The bibliography at the end of the work is general and touches upon the major themes of the book.  While the bibliography at the end of each chapter is specific and touches upon resources which can aid further pursuit of that particular issue.

What made this work exceptional is its inclusion of primary resources.  As noted above, Daughrity divides each chapter into two sections: “how the story became popular” and “what really happened.”  Each section has a handful of primary resources which point to the development of these two perspectives.  While many works make reference to primary resources, The History of Christianity: Facts and Fictions includes the full-text of many of these primary resources representing both perspectives.  While by no means exhaustive, the inclusion of full-text primary resources pointing to both perspectives makes this work a unique addition to any library at any institution studying the history of Christianity. 

There are several works looking at the history of the Christian faith.  However, Daughrity’s unique perspective, looking at both perspectives of fact and fiction, the primary resources that point to both, and the specific bibliographies provided at the end of each chapter, make this work a notable collection for any library whose patrons inquire about the history of Christianity.—Garrett B. Trott, University Librarian, Corban University, Salem, Oregon


Homeland Security and Critical Infrastructure Protection. 2nd Ed. By Ryan K. Baggett and Brian K. Simpkins. Praeger Security International. Santa Barbara, CA: Praeger, 2018. 414 pages. Acid-free. $75. (ISBN 978-1-4408-5395-1). Ebook available (978-1-4408-5396-8), call for pricing.

Though one might think of terrorist attacks as the primary threat to the nation’s infrastructure, there are many others such as natural disasters, lack of maintenance, and even pandemics, which can also threaten the resources our society relies on for normal operation. The second edition of Homeland Security and Critical Infrastructure Protection features a completely updated and revised text which includes a theoretical and practical overview of the field and individual chapters devoted to the problems of aging infrastructure in the US.   Chapters focused on the public and private sector categories such as energy, transportation, environment, manufacturing, cyber, finance, and health present a comprehensive overview of the interconnected layers of government that interact with private industry in many ways to ensure security and continuity of operations.  The sector chapters present an interdisciplinary risk approach which underscores the ways that each may be affected by terrorism/violence, natural disasters, cyber threats, and aging infrastructure.

The authors cite heavily from the government resources which create the foundation of homeland security in the US – executive orders, US Department of Homeland Security reports, and the documents of government agencies overseeing each sector, which should be familiar to readers in this discipline. These reports are made more accessible in the text through the inclusion of many charts and diagrams that reinforce organizational relationships and responsibilities, and highlight interesting facts about our nation’s infrastructure, such as the largest buildings, cable providers, and other homeland security trivia. Of particular note in a post-COVID-19 world is a statement on page 333: “The United States has a constant risk of an onset of a severe influenza pandemic,” and that such events will have great impacts on the sector; however, in the same paragraph the author states that the intentional transmission and lack of containment of a more deadly agent is of greater concern.

When compared to other similar texts, Homeland Security and Critical Infrastructure Protection seems best suited to a college/university classroom environment, as each chapter features learning objectives, key terms, and discussion questions to aid student comprehension of new topics, as well as a comprehensive bibliography and index. It provides a thorough overview of the many facets of infrastructure protection and would be beneficial for students in both homeland security and the related sectors it addresses.—Emily Mross, Assistant Librarian, Penn State Harrisburg Library, Middletown, Pennsylvania


Imagining the End: The Apocalypse in American Popular Culture. Edited by James Craig Holte. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 2019. Acid-free $97 (ISBN 978-1-4408-6101-7). Ebook Available (978-1-4408-6102-4), call for pricing.

Fascination with the apocalypse and humankind’s demise is a prominent and highly riveting motif in American popular culture. Alien invasions, viral outbreaks, zombie apocalypses are prevalent themes in fiction, film and television, music, and other platforms. This timely book describes these narratives in a single, 300-page volume, which covers a range of major apocalyptic genres, specific titles, and leading personalities found in American popular culture.

According to the introduction, “apocalyptic fever” is not a novel phenomenon for American culture. Unease about the end of the world was present throughout United States history with many religious groups and social movements influenced by the Book of Revelation from the Bible, “which describes in graphic detail the cataclysmic end of the world” (xiii). Our anxieties about the end are mirrored in popular culture and, in turn, amplify our fears.

Composed of 90 entries arranged alphabetically by subject and signed by the author, each entry contains “see also” references and a brief list of books for further reading. The entries are concise and contain basic descriptions with plot information and other details. As a result, this book is useful to the casual browser or serves as a starting point for topic selection and to gather initial information and resources for further analysis. The accessible writing style will appeal to general readers and high school and undergraduate students. At the back of the book, there is a full list of books for “Suggested Further Reading” and a sizeable index.  

There are several related works about apocalypse. Still, their focus is an in-depth study of the apocalypse in religion: End of Days: An Encyclopedia of the Apocalypse in World Religion, edited by Wendell G. Johnson (ABC-CLIO, 2017), The Encyclopedia of Apocalypticism, edited by John J. Collins and Bernard McGinn (Continuum, 1998). Other works focus on a particular area of popular culture: The Oxford Handbook of Apocalyptic Literature, edited by John J. Collins (Oxford University Press, 2014), Encyclopedia of Apocalyptic Literature, edited by Valerie P. Zimbaro (ABC-CLIO, 1996), and Encyclopedia of the Zombie: The Walking Dead in Popular Culture and Myth, edited by Anthony J. Fonseca and June Pulliam (Greenwood, 2014).  

As of this writing, the emerging coronavirus pandemic is currently at hand and will undoubtedly fuel further curiosity, research, and concern surrounding the end of the world. Imagining the End is recommended for high school, public, and academic collections.—Colleen Lougen, Serials and Electronic Resources Librarian, SUNY New Paltz 


Mapping American Criminal Law: Variations across the 50 States. By Paul H. Robinson and Tyler Scott Williams.  Santa Barbara, CA: Praeger, 2018. 328 pages. Acid-free $73. (ISBN 978-1-4408-6012-6). Ebook available (978-1-4408-6013-3), call for pricing.

Mapping American Criminal Law makes an important contribution to the literature as it addresses various aspects of criminal law at the state level rather than the federal level.  The lead author, Paul H. Robinson, is a law professor at the University of Pennsylvania and a recognized authority in the field of criminal law.  The scope of the work is ambitious.  The authors intend to “raise awareness of the enormous diversity among the states on issues across the criminal law landscape, to document this diversity with a host of specific illustrations on a wide range of issues, to encourage criminal law scholars to investigate these and the many other points of disagreement that exist among the states, and to encourage each legislature to look to this new diversity scholarship and to the positions taken by other states when the legislature sets out to codify and recodify its criminal law” (xii).  While there is no way to predict whether the call for new scholarship and legislative due diligence will be heeded, it is safe to say that the work provides scholarship on the diversity of criminal law across the country and raises issues and questions worthy of consideration.

Not all reference works can be considered good reads, but Mapping American Criminal Law fits the bill; it can easily be read cover to cover.  Not only is the material fascinating, the writing is both clear and engaging.  Further, the exhaustive research that went into this collection is evident.  Each chapter includes extensive references to criminal codes and case law.  As the title suggests, there are also maps, 50 in total.  Serving as visual summaries, the maps illustrate the diversity among the states. 

Part One, focusing on “punishment theory and legality,” provides theoretical lenses that can be applied throughout the book.  There are also sections on various offenses and defenses, “liability doctrines,” and “procedural issues.”  Each chapter closes with an intriguing “observations and speculations” section where readers will find interpretations and points of disagreement surrounding legal variances.  These sections are particularly interesting as they raise questions and suggest areas for future scholarship and legislative review.  Mapping American Criminal Law provides a wide array of discrepancies to explore for anyone interested in criminal law, including students searching for a research topic.

Mapping American Criminal Law clearly fills a gap in the literature.  Whether considered as a whole, or broken down into its component parts, it’s difficult to find a book for the purpose of comparison.  As an example, Wright and Miller’s Encyclopedia of Criminology (Routledge, 2005) includes an entry on “felonies and misdemeanors” that refers to the primary role played by states in encoding and interpreting criminal law.  But the examples included to illustrate disparities between states lack specificity.  While extortion is addressed in both books, Encyclopedia of Criminology treats this type of crime as if there is a singular national interpretation.  On the other hand, Mapping American Criminal Law outlines four variations among states hinging on level of threat and effects.  It even includes a call to social psychologists to conduct research that would support a more informed approach to legislation in this area.  Encyclopedia of Criminology is a fine collection, it is simply used here as an example of a more general criminal justice reference work.

The study of criminal law crosses disciplines – from political science and sociology to economics and history to name just a few examples.  Law schools, universities, liberal arts colleges and community colleges, particularly those with criminal justice programs, would benefit from adding Mapping American Criminal Law to their collections. – Anne C. Deutsch, Instruction Program Coordinator, State University of New York at New Paltz, New Paltz, NY.


Mass Shootings in America: Understanding the Debates, Causes, and Responses. Edited by Jaclyn Schildkraut. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 2018. 332 pages. Acid-free $94. (ISBN 978-1-4408-5624-2). Ebook Available (978-1-4408-5625-9), call for pricing. 

Mass Shootings in America: Understanding the Debates, Causes, and Responses is published by ABC-CLIO and edited by Jaclyn Schildkraut with foreword by Frank DeAngelis, a former Principal of Columbine High School. The purpose of this reference work is to provide a comprehensive examination of the tragic Mass Murders that have gripped the nation over the past five decades.

The hardcover book encompasses 332 pages of text information with no images and provides wide-ranging segments that include Understanding Mass Shootings, an Encyclopedia of Mass Shooting Events 1966-2016, Mass Shooting Expert Viewpoints, and Pivotal Documents in Mass Shooting Research.     

Mass Shootings in America also examines many politically charged topics associated with Mass Shootings like Media Response, Gun Control, Mental Illness, and Violence in Pop Culture. Although the subject matter is far too often politicized, Mass Shootings in America adequately details past shooting tragedies and current ideologies without enforcing a biased political agenda. This is best displayed by the variety of essays in the book’s Expert Q&A section.  The expert essays include many additional political topics related to mass shootings like gun control, government vs. state intervention, and crime laws. All expert topics are presented from a balanced and evidence based perspective.    

The book also offers a clear look into the psychology of modern-day mass murderers by examining their mental states and motivations. Readers researching mass shooting connections between psychological disorders, gender, terrorism, violent media, hate crimes, and substance abuse would undoubtedly find value in Mass Shooting in America’s content. 

There are numerous resources on the subject of mass shootings with many focusing on specific events like the Las Vegas music festival shooting of 2017 or the Sandy Hook Elementary incident. There are, however, resources more closely related to Mass Shootings in America. A comparable resource would be Extreme Killing: Understanding Serial and Mass Murder by James Alan Fox. While examining mass murders, Fox’s book takes a much deeper look into the actual psyche of multiple killers. Alternatively, Mass Shootings in America encompasses both the history of mass shootings and the nation’s political answers.  

As mass shootings continue to occur across America, these incidents fuel emotions and garner media attention. Mass Shootings in America: Understanding the Debates, Causes, and Responses is an excellent resource for students and scholars interested in these alarming crimes and belongs in any collection focusing on Criminal Justice or Political Science.—Trent Shotwell, Special Collections & Archives Librarian, Sam Houston State University, Huntsville, Texas


Midterm Campaigning and the Modern Presidency: Reshaping the President’s Relationship with Congress. By Michael A. Julius. Santa Barbara, CA: Praeger, 2018. 160 pages, Acid-free $46 (ISBN: 978-1-4408-4516-1) Ebook Available (978-1-4408-4517-8) call for pricing.

Presidential participation in congressional campaigns is not a new occurrence.  However, it was not until post-World War II that presidents began to engage in the activity routinely.  Prior to that time, presidential involvement in midterm campaigning was not well received by either Congress or political parties.  This leads to two fundamental questions: why was the practice so disfavored and what changes in political perspective changed over time to afford presidents the liberty to freely pursue these endeavors today?  In Midterm Campaigning and the Modern Presidency: Reshaping the President’s Relationship with Congress, Michael A. Julius answers these questions as well as what motivates presidents to invest their valuable time and resources in midterm campaigning, what factors affect the manner in which presidents campaign in midterm elections, and what benefits are afforded presidents as a result of these endeavors.

While it is logical to assume that the primary factor motivating presidents to engage in midterm campaigning is to persuade voters to vote for particular candidates, much research has shown that there is very little correlation between presidential participation and election results.  Julius points out that this is where existing scholarship is lacking; it has focused primarily on the outcome of races rather than the significance of the relationships between the president and the candidates themselves.  The importance of Julius’ work is that it fills this gap in the scholarship by exploring much more than the dynamics of midterm elections or the impact of presidential participation on election results.  Rather, it delves into the interpersonal aspects of president-candidate behavior, how these impact whether and for whom a president will campaign, and what benefits presidents enjoy as a result.

Julius maintains that presidents utilize midterm campaigning as a tool to alter political party views consistent with the president’s political agenda.  He contends that so powerful is such involvement that it can obligate senators and representatives to the president; even compel a party to behave in a particular manner.  Such authority significantly undermines the United States federal government’s system of checks and balances by weakening congressional oversight of the executive branch.  Julius contends that such presidential influence is so pervasive that it can impact issues of political concern, federal elections, and congressional behavior into the future.

Not only significant for its unique perspective on presidential midterm election campaigning motivation and impact, this book provides valuable midterm campaign data from 1954 through 2014 and includes nine case studies of midterm campaigning presidents.  Also included are informative figures and tables which effectively present information and help the reader visualize the information presented.

Midterm Campaigning and the Modern Presidency: Reshaping the President’s Relationship with Congress is valuable in terms of its analysis of presidential behavior and such behaviors’ impact on political processes.  While best-suited for academic research institutions, upper-level undergraduate and graduate students, research scholars, and faculty, this book will be beneficial to any library providing political, governmental, or presidential analysis resources to its users.—Dianna Kim, Assistant Professor/Research and Instruction Librarian, Sam Houston State University, Huntsville, Texas


Money in American Politics: An Encyclopedia. Edited by David Schultz. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 2018. 368 pages. Acid-free, $94. (ISBN 978-1-4408-5176-6). Ebook available (978-1-4408-5177-3), call for pricing.

From the “Abdul Scam” (ABSCAM) FBI sting operation of the late 1970’s/early 1980’s to “Yazoo Land Fraud” of two centuries earlier, the 150+ entries of this volume puts the financial-political complex under a microscope for close examination. The impetus for doing so is spelled out in the Preface, wherein Editor Schultz states that he is seeking to answer two main questions: “What role does money have in American politics” (xiii) and “…whether money corrupts legislation, distorts or biases the political agenda, or provides important ways for individuals or organizations to express their political views” (ibid.). To that end, topics covered include issues (“Bribery” [30]), legislation (“Ethics in Government Act” [89]), Supreme Court decisions (“Federal Election Commission v. Colorado Republican Federal Campaign Committee” [110]), personalities (Hanna, Mark; the power behind the throne, so to speak, in regards to his influence in getting William McKinley into the White House [133]), and – refreshingly – efforts to curb the most egregious abuses(“Progressive Era Reforms” [256]).

Schultz is a professor of political science at Hamline University, located in St. Paul, Minn. He is also a professor of law at the University of Minnesota. Contributors are likewise academics, for the most part, holding advanced degrees in political science, public policy and related fields, while a sprinkling of librarians, attorneys and other professionals have also made their mark within these pages.

Writing style is clear, concise and straightforward, with a readability level appropriate for senior high school/college students and members of the educated public. Considering the importance of this subject and its typically high profile in the mass media, this volume is strongly recommended for purchase by all public and academic libraries.—Michael F. Bemis, Retired Reference Librarian, Formerly Employed by Washington County Public Library, Oakdale, MN


Obesity in Childhood and Adolescence. 2nd ed. Edited by H. Dele Davies, MD, Hiram E. Fitzgerald, PhD, and Kami J. Silk, PhD. Child Psychology and Mental Health. Santa Barbara, CA: Praeger, 2018. 2 vols. Acid-free, $138. (ISBN 978-1-5853-6). Ebook Available (978-1-4408-5854-3), call for pricing.

As Davies, Fitzgerald, and Silk point out in their introduction, obesity is a top health issue in the United States. Today, more than a third of American children and teens are overweight or obese, placing them at risk for cardiovascular disease, diabetes, depression, and other chronic health problems. Not surprisingly, obesity is a highly popular research topic in high school and college libraries. Although it is usually covered within encyclopedias and handbooks on eating disorders, it is worthwhile for libraries to own entire works on obesity itself.

Comprised of two slim volumes, Obesity in Childhood and Adolescence, 2nd edition(OiC&A2)consists of 19 chapters, most 15-25 pages in length, written by academic researchers, physicians, graduate students, and other health specialists. The work covers origins, risk factors, prevalence, prevention, treatments, public opinion, and social influences, delving especially into nutrition, parental behavior, media and gaming influences, physical activity, and surgery. There are chapters on obesity in various ethnic populations as well.  While some chapters mention international statistics and concerns, the primary focus of OiC&A2 is the United States. OiC&A2 is part of Praeger’s series on Child Psychology and Mental Health, which is intended to present scientific material in a way that is more “accessible to the general public than is the case for literature published in academic scientific journals” (vii). While some parts of the more medically-oriented chapters may be over the heads of high school and early college students, generally OiC&A2 is far more readable than professional handbooks such as Kelly D. Brownell and B. Timothy Walsh’s Eating Disorders and Obesity: A Comprehensive Handbook (Guilford, 2017). Split into 2 relatively-light volumes, it is more likely to circulate, too. Whereas Judith S. Stern’s Obesity: A Reference Handbook (ABC-CLIO, 2015) is also written for high school/early college audiences, it centers on physiological issues (mainly nutrition and physical activity) and largely ignores the family, social, cultural, and environmental topics found in OiC&A2. So, in terms of providing a convenient overview of a complex and multifaceted topic, OiC&A2 fills the bill nicely. 

There are many titles available to selectors who want to broaden or update their collections. According to Gobi, an acquisitions tool used by many academic libraries, nearly 200 “recommended” titles on obesity have been published since 2016, and more are scheduled for 2020. Thus, a key question is “what makes this particular book valuable?” One answer is its multidisciplinary approach, which was fostered by an editorial team comprised of a physician (Davies), a psychologist (Fitzgerald), and a communications expert (Silk). Unlike other titles which focus exclusively on the physiological, the psychological, the cultural/social, or the environmental aspects of obesity, OiC&A2 addresses all of them. Compared to the first (2008) edition, OiC&A2 includes more recent statistics and bibliographic references, too. Thus, especially for a smaller library, this portable, all-in-one package is an economical way to provide a current introduction to various topics related to obesity. Recommended for college and health libraries.—Bernadette A. Lear, Behavioral Sciences and Education Librarian, Penn State Harrisburg Library, Middletown, PA.


Peak Plastic: The Rise or Fall of Our Synthetic World. By Jack Buffington. Santa Barbara, CA: Praeger, 2018. 152 pages. Acid-free $37. (ISBN 978-1-4408-64146-2), call for pricing           

Jack Buffington’s Peak Plastic: The Rise or Fall of Our Synthetic World is a small densely packed wealth of information about current plastic manufacturing, consumption, and recyclability of these products. Buffington contends that there will be a tipping point in our near future, “Peak Plastic” where there will be no turning back from plastic pollution. However, Buffington argues there is still time to make a difference calling for innovative solutions with a focus on not abandoning plastic use all together, but rather creating an ecological supply chain. Buffington offers a unique perspective with their background being in supply chain management. Their proposed solution to the problem differs from most that typically call for an end to using plastics, or solutions for cleaning up plastic waste and instead offers ideas on how to prevent and incorporate synthetic plastics with our natural world.

The beginning chapters are an in-depth overview of the history of plastics, polymer chemistry of plastics, supply-chain of plastics, and our current ecological problems related to the consumption of these plastics. The last several chapters are Buffington’s proposed solutions which build on one another. They start with a “Band-Aid” fix approach to help stop the bleed of plastic consumption and pollution and build up to the final solution of an ecologically sensitive supply chain of plastics. At the end of each chapter is a list of references. These references are primarily secondary sources from news outlets. Each chapter can stand alone depending on the topic of interest related to plastics. An index is also included.  

This would be an excellent resource for programs dealing with environmental studies, ecology, sustainability, chemistry, or sustainable design. It also would fit well in collections for supply chain design and management, innovation, and entrepreneurship. An excellent resource for undergraduates or those new to the topic of the prevalence of plastic infiltrating our natural environments and looking to see what actions we can take to prevent Peak Plastic.—Kelsey Forester, Science Research & Instruction Librarian, University of Georgia, Athens, GA


Pipeline Politics:  Assessing the Benefits and Harms of Energy Policy.  By Madelon L. Finkel, PhD.  Santa Barbara, CA:  Praeger, 2018.  232 pages.  Acid-free $48.  (ISBN 978-1-4408-6185-7).  Ebook Available (978-1-4408-6186-4), call for pricing.

In recent years, the world has seen the growth of massive social movements and protests regarding the environmental, health, and land ownership implications of oil and natural gas pipeline construction. Pipeline Politics: Assessing the Benefits and Harms of Energy Policy by Madelon Lubin Finkel, professor of healthcare policy and research and director of the Office of Global Health Education at the Weill Cornell Medical College, is a single-volume resource that explores the complexity of pipeline politics focusing mostly on the United States.

In comparison to Pipelines and Politics (Greenhaven Publishing, 2018) edited by Lisa Idzikowski, which is a collection of edited essays focusing on pipeline geopolitics, Pipeline Politics provides a more holistic exploration of the complicated history, limitations, failures, benefits, and politics of crude oil and natural gas pipelines in the United States and across the world. Throughout the volume, Dr. Finkel explains that pipelines are necessary for the transportation of fossil fuels but“there are serious issues relating to pipeline safety, environmental degradation, environmental justice issues, and potential harms to human health” (189).

Pipeline Politics is well-researched and organized. The book is organized into eleven chapters covering a wide range of pipeline subtopics including an overview of oil geopolitics, oil transportation, pipeline safety, pipeline controversies, land ownership, and environmental movements and justice. Most chapters run about 20 pages in length and have introductory paragraphs, subheadings, and concluding thoughts, making it easier to comprehend often complex details. The book includes several graphs from U.S. government agencies, and timelines of major pipeline and environmental legislation. Dr. Finkel also provides an extensive notes section with rich resources and an index for quick referencing.

Although at times quite dense, Pipeline Politics explores multiple facets of pipeline construction, legislation, and health concerns. The reader may feel overwhelmed with all the topics discussed, but Dr. Finkel simplifies the jargon by providing succinct explanations of complex terminology. Finkel often refers to information in previous chapters linking specific subtopics to the larger pipeline discussion. Although the included graphs contain important information from U.S. Government agencies like the Congressional Research Services and U.S. Energy Information Administration, the graphs are hard to read because the book is printed in black and white.

Overall, Pipeline Politics is a well-researched, in-depth, and affordable volume that is an appropriate resource for high-school level users and beyond. It is recommended for high school and academic libraries with programs in environmental science, political science, public policy, and health. – Chrissy O’Grady, Research & Education Librarian, State University of New York at New Paltz, New Paltz, New York 


Pop Goes the Decade: The Seventies.  By Richard A. Hall.  Pop Goes the Decade. Santa Barbara, CA: Greenwood, 2019. 266 pages. Acid-free $92 (ISBN 978-1-4408-6219-9). Ebook Available (978-1-4408-6220-5), call for pricing.

In his introduction to Pop Goes the Decade: The Seventies, author Richard A. Hall makes an interesting claim about the importance of popular culture during the oft-maligned decade discussed in his book. He declares that during the 1970s, “Americans would face shifting family dynamics, a dramatically rising crime rate, and the worst economic scenario since the Great Depression.  Added to that, we would face the biggest constitutional crisis since the Civil War. As such, popular culture’s ability to both inform and provide escapism would be more important than, perhaps, any other decade before” (xxxiii).  Hall then sets out to support his case with a sweeping examination of virtually every form of popular culture: television, sports, music, films, literature, technology, media, and art.  He even manages to devote space to toys and comic books: the latter being a medium which currently enjoys cultural respectability but at the time was considered a junk medium.

Each form of broad entertainment under discussion receives a lengthy chapter which examines the numerous genres that fall within the given topic.  For example, the chapter on music discusses (as one might expect) the ascension of Disco and the rapidly diversifying Rock scene.  But there’s also space devoted to the expansion of Soul/R&B into Funk, Reggae, and Rap, the emergence of Outlaw Country/Western music, movie soundtracks, and even the Easy Listening/Adult Contemporary genre.       

Each chapter covers an impressive array of subgenres and is impressive in both its scope and depth, offering the broad coverage one would expect in a work dealing with an entire decade but also offering impressively detailed discussions of individual musical acts, television shows, sports, movies, etc.   In addition to the forms of entertainment mentioned above, The Seventies also contains useful chapters outlining the major controversies of the decade and the “game changers” whose influence extended throughout the 70s and beyond (222).  Each chapter of Pop Goes the Decade: The Seventies concludes with a Further Reading section, providing guidance to readers who want to further explore a given topic.

In 2007, Greenwood Press published The 1970s by Kelly Boyer Sagert as part of its American Pop Culture Though History series.  This earlier work, of course, covers many of the same topics as Hall’s The Seventies. A distinguishing feature of Sagert’s book is a lengthy opening chapter titled “Everyday America” which provides readers with a broad introduction to the events of the decade. Though the two books unavoidably have a good deal of overlap, the amount of unique content found in each title and the differing authorial viewpoints make both titles worthy additions to library collections.

Lastly, one surprising focus of Hall’s book, which sadly most chroniclers of the 1970s tend to ignore, is just how inclusive the pop culture of the decade actually was.  He claims early in the book that popular culture of the 70s “became about inclusiveness” (xxxiii).  Indeed, throughout the book Hall cites numerous examples of how the diverse television shows, films, art, and literature of the decade showed Americans a more honest portrait of themselves than they had ever been shown.  Pop Goes the Decade: The Seventies is recommended for high school and academic libraries.—Edward Whatley, Instruction & Research Services Librarian, Georgia College & State University, Milledgeville, Georgia.


Prisons and Punishment in America: Examining the Facts. By Michael O’Hear. Contemporary Debates. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 2018. 241 pages. Acid-free $63. (ISBN 978-1-4408-5542-9). Ebook Available (978-1-4408-5543-6), call for pricing. 

The purpose of Prisons and Punishment in America: Examining the Facts is to observe the reliability of current topics and information on American prisons and punishment while underscoring any related falsehoods or misconceptions.  The work is part of the Contemporary Debates Series published by ABC-CLIO that focuses on examining controversial subjects.  Prisons and Punishment in America: Examining the Facts seeks to provide a balanced perspective to its primary audience of high school students, university undergraduates, and independent researchers.  Other books in the Contemporary Debates series include hot button topics like Climate Change, Marijuana, and Immigration. 

Prisons and Punishment in America: Examining the Facts by Michael O’Hear is a 241-page hardcover volume containing eight chapters with 40 total questions related to the subject of prisons and punishment in the US.  The chapters are divided by topic and include information on sentencing, incarceration, releasing, special populations, politics, and reform.  The volume is nicely arranged and opens with a brief guide on how to use the book that is followed by a table of contents, chapters, index, and then brief information about the author.     

The common questions on prisons and punishment included with each chapter all have a supplementary paragraph or two followed by supporting information on the specific topic.  Each question and additional paragraphs are then followed by suggested readings.  Prisons and Punishment in America: Examining the Facts does not contain any images related to the text.  The work does, however, provide several statistical tables and graphs.  

While no specific topic quoted in Prisons and Punishment in America: Examining the Facts is unique to the study of criminal justice, the book provides great insight into common ideas surrounding American prisons and criminal punishment.  Many resources, both print and electronic, widely cover the various topics included in the volume.  However, Prisons and Punishment in America: Examining the Facts provides the user with a unique format that is key to the Contemporary Debates series.  This format provides a common question related to the subject, an answer to the question, and then the facts surrounding the issue.  The format of the work is both concise and easy to follow.  

Prisons and Punishment in America: Examining the Facts by Michael O’Hear is a thought-provoking resource that contains noteworthy information on the American criminal justice system.  The volume would make a respectable addition to any library or collection that holds criminal justice and American social resources.—Trent Shotwell, Special Collections & Archives Librarian, Sam Houston State University, Huntsville, Texas


Prisons in the United States: A Reference Handbook. By Cyndi Banks.  Contemporary World Issues. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 2017, 309 pages.  Acid-Free $60 (ISBN 978-1-4408-4437-9). Ebook Available (978-1-4408-4438-6), call for pricing.

The United States prison system is in crisis.  Due to progressive increases in incarceration, America confines its citizens at a higher rate than any other nation in the world.  In Prisons in the United States: A Reference Handbook, author Cyndi Banks explores the history of the American prison system, the causes leading to mass incarceration, and the serious conditions that have occurred as a result.

The purpose of this book is to detail how changing correctional objectives have resulted in the serious issues plaguing the system today. The book begins with a background and history of the United States prison system from the colonial period to present. This historical account discusses how increases in punitive ideologies over time transformed a once rehabilitative system dedicated to reintegration into one concentrated on retribution.

Harsh prison conditions and overcrowding have burdened American prisons today with a number of challenges such as prisoner mental illness, gang activity, rape, and other forms of violence.  Banks explores these troubling issues as well as how prisons are failing to provide offenders with the education and treatment necessary to promote successful reentry and prevent recidivism upon release.

In a section titled “Perspectives,” Banks provides a series of essays authored by prison administrators, former prisoners, criminal justice professors, and private non-profit institutions.  The perspective essays cover a number of prison-related topics including sentencing policies, institutional discrimination, supermax prisons, correctional officers, and the war on drugs.  While the essays serve to provide personal context to the issues, controversies, and historical material presented in the first half of the book, the inclusion of insights from correctional officers and former inmates in particular offer a unique look from the perspective of those who have personally experienced these issues.

To provide demonstrative evidence of the current severe state of American prisons, Banks presents data such as imprisonment rate tables, demographic characteristics, offense and recidivism figures, mandatory minimum sentence tables, and mental health statistics.  She also provides excerpts from various documents which illustrate the shift from the early rehabilitation mindset of the colonial period to today’s prison confinement and retribution ideology.

Prisons in the United States: A Reference Handbook is different from other prison-related reference materials primarily in terms of its scope.  While Banks provides historical information and presents various issues and controversies related to American prisons, she has specifically chosen not to substantively cover other facets of the American correction system such as jails, juvenile detention facilities, immigrant incarceration, and community corrections.  This reference work therefore has a much narrower and deeper focus upon the history and development of the United States prison system.

The historical documents and events highlighted in this work illustrate how correctional objectives have changed over time. Through statistical data and personal accounts, Banks illustrates how the current United States prison system is plagued by overcrowding, violence, and a lack of quality rehabilitative programming.  In so doing, she achieves the purpose of this book and provides the reader with the events and circumstances which have caused American prisons to evolve from a rehabilitative to retributive model.

The statistical data described above as well as a chapter providing nearly 200 sources including books, journal, articles, reports of federal agencies, news media reports, private agency reports, and non-print resources provides a substantial collection of materials for further research and inquiry. A chronology of major historical developments and events from 1557 to 2014 provides additional context.  Prisons in the United States: A Reference Handbook is an excellent introductory resource for both general readers and undergraduate students and is therefore appropriate for both public and academic libraries.—Dianna Kim, Assistant Professor/Research and Instruction Librarian, Sam Houston State University, Huntsville, Texas


Reforming America: A Thematic Encyclopedia and Document Collection of the Progressive Era. Edited by Jeffrey A. Johnson. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 2017. 824 pages. Acid-free (ISBN 978-1-4408-3720-3). Ebook Available (978-1-4408-3721-0), call for pricing.

Over many years ABC-CLIO has perfected a specific type of reference work. Easy on the eyes and accessibly written, the publications appeal to high school and undergraduate students (and the librarians who help them). These are not towering achievements of scholarship decades in the making.  Rather, they offer introductions to potential research topics, summarize an often-large body of literature and usually conclude with a few suggested readings. The present work, which has a stated target audience of “advanced high school students and early career college students” (xv) fits comfortably within that genre.

The encyclopedia provides multi-page essays on significant people, movements, and events in United States history from approximately, 1893-1920. During this period the United States was undergoing dramatic transformations with massive internal migration, unprecedented waves of immigration, industrialization, and intense conflicts over political, economic, and social reforms. The Introduction promises that “…special attention is paid to important topics of race, class, and gender reform…” (xv). Admirably, many of the essays focus on African-Americans and women. Students would have benefitted from greater attention to the experiences of other groups from this time. Although there are essays on specific topics like the Carlisle School, there is no essay specifically devoted to discussing the experiences of Native-Americans.  If the index is to be believed, there is no coverage at all of Mexican immigration or Mexican-Americans. There are separate essays on Irish, Italian, and Jewish immigration.

The essays are grouped into five themes, “Social and Political Life,” “Work and Economic Life,” “Cultural and Religious Life,” “Science, Literature, and the Arts,” and “Sports and Popular Culture”.  This arrangement works well for topics such as “Work and Economic Life” where it usefully juxtaposes material on disparate topics like labor activists, strikes, court cases, and titans of industry. Students can easily scan a broad area of interest and identify potential topics.  In print the thematic arrangement made it harder to find specific topics and effectively split some related entries. For example, Birth Control appears in Volume 1 under “Social and Political life,” while the American Birth Control League is discussed in Volume 2 with the essays on “Cultural and Religious Life.”  There are cross-references, but it was easy to find oneself consulting the index frequently to figure out whether a particular topic was covered. 

The two hundred plus essays in this collection do a good job of summarizing what is known about the topics.  Most are two to three pages, allowing some depth, but not extended treatments. Horrific subjects such as lynching are handled in a matter of fact style that students may find informative if not overly gripping. As is always the case, there are omissions, presumably reflecting the interests of the contributors.  For example, the Sports and Popular Culture section has an essay on basketball but there are no essays devoted to popular sports like boxing, cycling, baseball, and horse racing, although some individual athletes from these sports  are discussed. Each essay ends with a brief list of sources for further reading and the second volume contains a useful bibliographic essay, which identifies key works relating to each theme.  It should be noted that this was published several years prior to this review. The basic information is unlikely to substantially change but do not look for references to the latest scholarly literature.

If you’ve been satisfied with previous ABC-Clio publications, this will be what is expected. It doesn’t break new ground, but in a world awash in misinformation there’s considerable value in concise, factual overviews written by qualified scholars and accessible to diverse audiences.—Eric Novotny, History Librarian, Pennsylvania State University, University Park, Pennsylvania


Reinventing Japan: New Directions in Global Leadership. Edited by Martin Fackler and Yoichi Funabashi. Santa Barbara, CA: Praeger, 2018. 269 pages. Acid-free $48 (ISBN 978-1-4408-6286-1). Ebook Available (978-1-4408-6287-8), call for pricing.

This single-volume publication includes an introduction, eleven chapters each with endnotes, a conclusion, and an index. The thirteen international contributors selected to collaborate on this title are professors, independent researchers, journalists, and practitioners from various academic fields. They were all participants in a “Why Japan Matters” project in 2015 which was conceived by editor Yoichi Funabashi, co-founder and chairman of the Asia Pacific Initiative. The final product was this book first published in Japanese in 2017 by Toyo Keizai Inc., with the translated title Galapagos Cool: Eleven Fields in Which Japan Can Matter More. Editor Martin Fackler, author and award-winning journalist, was the project director and oversaw this English edition.

Part one, “Galapagos Incubator,”examines Japan’s unique products, design, and services in relation to pop culture, architecture, and tourism.  Japan is often referred to as a Galapagos, meaning it has been globally perceived to follow “its own separate evolutionary course” isolating itself from the outside world (239). In chapter one, “A Soft Superpower: The Pivot from Manufacturing to Pop Culture,” writer Matt Alt explores why Japan “has become an object of ongoing fascination and appeal” often at the forefront with technological innovations and popular culture trends like Evisu jeans, Pokemon, Uniqlo, and Marie Kondo’s art of decluttering and minimalist philosophy (15).

Japan’s “Lost Decades” is another overarching theme addressed throughout the volume. This is the time period during the 1990s and early 2000s when Japan experienced deflation and slow economic growth. Part two, “Outliers and Pioneers,” assesses how “Japan has become more aware of its own place in the world and of its own core competencies” in the 21st century (238).  In chapter four, “Departing from Silicon Valley: Japan’s New Startup Ecosystem,” author Kenji E. Kushida explains how Japan’s economy has flourished through innovative entrepreneurship, some of which include the biotech companies “Spiber” that uses protein based materials to produce sustainable synthetics, and “Healios” a regenerative medicine company (85). Chapter seven, “Deciphering Japan: China’s Fascination with Its Neighbor” by Mao Danqing explores the complex relationship between China and Japan. The Chinese interest in Japan has significantly increased during the last decade which is most illustrated through tourism since every year “a new record is set in the number of Chinese visiting Japan” (142). 

Part three, “Global Contributor,” addresses Japan’s global leadership role with disasters, foreign aid programs, and foreign relations. In chapter eight,Lessons of Tohoku: The Sources of Japan’s Resilience to Disaster,” writer Daniel P. Aldrich examines how certain communities have rebuilt and bounced back from the 9.0 magnitude earthquake, tsunami, and meltdown at Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant on March 11, 2011.In chapter eleven, “Obama in Hiroshima: A Model for Historical Reconciliation?,” Jennifer Lind analyzes this first visit to the 1945 atomic bombing site from an American sitting president on May 27, 2016. Subsequently, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe made a historic visit to Pearl Harbor in December 2016.

This book is informative and compelling especially to those interested in Japanese history and culture who may find themselves reading it cover-to-cover. The editor Funabashi also published Examining Japan’s Lost Decades (Routledge, 2015) that would be beneficial to those who want to further explore Japan’s economic history and policy. Because this volume is not organized like a typical encyclopedia and does not provide quick overviews of topics, it should be placed in a circulating collection as opposed to a reference collection. Recommended for high school, public, and undergraduate libraries. —Megan Coder, Associate Librarian, State University of New York at New Paltz


The Rules and Politics of American Primaries: A State-by-State Guide to Republican and Democratic Primaries and Caucuses.  Edited by Andrew E. Busch.  Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 2019.  395 pages.  Acid-free $63 (ISBN: 978-1-4408-5903-8).  Ebook available (978-1-4408-5904-5).         

The process of selecting candidates to run for president of the United States does not appear in the U.S. Constitution.  This reference book, edited by political scientist Andrew Busch, provides an overview of the development of the complex processes for nominating candidates that grew out of decisions made by political parties since parties began to form based on ideological differences in the 1790s.   Part 1 begins with a historical overview briefly highlighting changes to the nomination process, followed by thematic chapters offering brief historical background with most of the attention on the 20th century up to 2020.  The authors describe and to some extent analyze the developments and changes made to fundamental parts of the process by the two major political parties, Republican and Democratic.  There are chapters on how primaries and caucuses work, nomination calendars, campaign finance, voting behavior, delegate selection and responsibilities, proposals to reform the nomination process, and the nominating conventions.  Each chapter has a source list of references to books, magazine and newspaper articles, and web sites.  Part 2 is organized by state and U.S. territories.  Each section of approximately four pages offers very brief background on state primaries/caucuses and highlights of selected presidential primaries in the 20th century.  Busch provides an outline of the 2020 delegate selection process in each state for the two major parties.  [Some of the indicated primary dates were rescheduled due to the coronavirus pandemic of 2020.  The book was published in November 2019.]  All offer state primary or caucus results for 2000-2016.  Many sources are used for the state data, and the authors highlight the use of Almanac of American Politics, Congressional Quarterly Guide to U.S. Elections, the Federal Election Commission web site, and for the 2020 process, TheGreenPapers.com.

This book is a unique, clearly written collection of historical evaluation and statistical data on the nomination process for president.  It is intended as a thorough reference source on presidential primaries/caucuses compared with the collection of essays in Making of the Presidential Candidates 2020 (Rowman and Littlefield, 2019) which examine specific themes in the nomination process in the context of changes made over time.  Another collection of essays, but more of an overview of the nomination process, is A Citizen’s Guide to Presidential Nominations: The Competition for Leadership (Taylor & Francis, 2015). Neither of the two essay collections offer a state-by-state guide.  The processes for primaries and caucuses will continue to change in the future, but Busch’s guide will maintain relevance for its value as a historical reference source.—David Lincove, Professor Emeritus, Ohio State University Libraries, Columbus, Ohio


Stem Cells. 2nd Ed. Edited by Evelyn B. Kelly.  Health and Medical Issues Today. Santa Barbara, CA: Greenwood, 2019. 236 pages.  Acid-free $40 (ISBN 978-1-4408-6596-1) Ebook Available (978-1-3308-6597-8), call for pricing.

Stem cell therapies offer hope for cures and remedies of some of the most debilitating and degenerative disorders and illnesses. Many misconceptions and fears exist about this innovative field, because of the ethical and moral issues raised, such as cloning, embryo usage, in-vitro fertilization, and the procurement of stem cells.  This comprehensive and authoritative reference from the Health and Medical Issues Today series, which comprises 25 different titles, presents a balanced and objective overview of this groundbreaking science and addresses the many controversial issues at the forefront of the stem cell debates.

The book introduces readers to important vocabulary and accompanying acronyms, such as the terms chimera, induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC), mesenchymal stem cells (MSC), and stemness, that are commonly used in research studies. Kelly also skillfully makes connections to historical contexts, literary texts, and the real world.  For instance, Kelly explains the first use of the word “chimera,” and then defines its use in stem cell research.  She also presents current information about stem cell therapies in veterinary medicine, its use worldwide, and religious views.    

 The book often delves into complex studies of cell biology; yet the information is fairly easy-to-comprehend, because the book is well organized. There are three main parts: Overview and Background Information, Issues and Controversies, and Scenarios. All eighteen chapters in the first two parts have paragraph-length conclusions that summarize the main chapter points. Scenarios is a new feature of this improved edition. It contains five case studies that will appeal to readers who like the use of storytelling. Further aides to assist readers include an extensive glossary, timeline, sources for further information, and an index. All sections of the book have been updated from the first edition (Greenwood, 2006). For example, the author cites many recent studies and the timeline has approximately nineteen new entries that identify milestones.    

It is strongly recommended that public library readers consult this reference before reading the many books touting miracle cures and that claim these therapies have no side effects or contraindications. The resource also serves as a foundation to prepare secondary and undergraduate scholars to read advanced stem cell research, especially peer-reviewed journal articles and books, such as Gian Paolo Bagnara’s, Laura Bonsi’s, and Francesco Alviano’s Stem Cells (Societa Editrice Esculapio, 2020).

A needed addition for a third edition would be the inclusion of an alphabetically organized abbreviation guide, because the prevalence of acronyms in the field of stem cell research can be challenging for novices to decipher. Moreover, information should be provided about the potential use of stem cells in the fields of cosmetology, dentistry, and plastic surgery, especially in reversing or minimizing the appearance of aging, such as the prevention and repair of wrinkles, tooth decay, and hair loss. These topics would be of interest to older public library readers and would help them better understand what is currently available.   Overall, this book provides high quality and timely information in a single source.—Caroline Geck, MLS, MBA, Independent Scholar, Somerset, New Jersey


Technical Innovation in American History: An Encyclopedia of Science and Technology. Edited by Rosanne Welch and Peg A. Lamphier. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 2019. 3 vols. Acid-free $325 (ISBN 978-1-61069-093-5). Ebook Available (978-1-61069-094-2), call for pricing.

Rosanne Welch and Peg A. Lamphier have assembled the work of some 200 contributors to provide a comprehensive guide to the advance of science and technology in the United States, from the establishment of the first printing press in colonial America in 1638 to the conclusion of the Cassini-Huygens mission to Saturn in 2017.

It could be argued that the story of technical innovation in the United States is in many ways the story of the nation itself, and a reference work devoted to such a vast and varied subject requires a rigorous organization. The set is largely successful in this regard, providing a sense of development over time while giving individuals and individual developments their due. It comprises three volumes: Colonial America to 1865; Reconstruction through World War II; and The Cold War to the Present. Each volume opens with a table of contents for all three volumes and an overview of the coverage of that particular volume, and each concludes with a bibliography for the volume and an index covering the entire set. Each volume is also subdivided into three chronological subsections—”The Post-Cold War Era (1980-1999),” for example—with individual entries arranged alphabetically within the subsection. Volume 1 also includes a succinct introduction and a chronology, while a list at the end of volume 3 identifies editors and contributors.

The set runs to a total of 1,082 pages and includes nearly 700 clearly written signed entries, each of which includes “Further Reading” and “See also” references. The range of subjects is vast, from “Bifocals” and “Safety Pin” to “Hoover Dam” and “Internet.” Besides developments in the “hard” and applied sciences, however, individuals such as anthropologist Margaret Mead are covered. The set also includes a number of black-and-white illustrations and a generous selection of primary documents.

Technical Innovation in American History is devoted almost entirely to the world created by European Americans and, to a lesser extent, African Americans. The editors acknowledge the role of Native Americans in helping Europeans adapt to the North American environment, but there are no entries devoted to important (if prehistoric) innovations such as Clovis projectile points. On the other hand, the inclusion of some individuals and innovations is questionable. As her entry makes clear, German-born mathematician Amalie Emmy Noether spent only the last two years of her life in the United States, and while it acknowledges that she “developed two of the most crucial theorems […] in modern abstract algebra” (2: 224) at the American college of Bryn Mawr, it does not explain why the theorems are important. An entry devoted to the familiar medication aspirin makes no obvious reference to American scientists or manufacturers or the United States itself.

Despite reservations about a few entries, Technical Innovation in American History is impressively broad in its coverage. There do not appear to be any recent works similar in scope, and the set is highly recommended for high school, undergraduate, and subject collections. —Grove Koger, Retired Reference Librarian and Independent Scholar, Boise, Idaho


The Tavern: A Social History of Drinking and Conviviality. By Steven D. Barleen. History of Human Spaces. Santa Barbara, CA: Greenwood, 2019. 175 pages. Acid-free $39 (ISBN 978-1-4408-5272-5). Ebook Available (978-1-4408-5273-2), call for pricing.

The tavern is a timeless institution, as James Boswell put it in 1830, “there is nothing which has yet been contrived by man, by which so much happiness is produced as by a good tavern or inn” (1). The Tavern: A Social History of Drinking and Conviviality by Steven D. Barleen (Clinton Community College, Iowa) explores the fascinating history of the American tavern and its constant role as a social and physical space in American lives and culture.

This book is a part of ABC-CLIO/Greenwood’s “History of Human Spaces” series which examines the history of common spaces and dives into the social, cultural, political, and economic significance of each space. This book is organized into four chapters: “The Tavern: A Brief History,” “The Tavern and the Community,” “The Social Space,” and “Behind the Bar.” Each chapter begins with a historical tavern quote that orients the reader to the chapter’s topic.

Unlike Sharon Salinger’s Taverns and Drinking in Early America (John Hopkins University Press, 2002) which focuses on 17th and 18th century American taverns, Barleen examines the role of American taverns from 17th century Puritans to modern 21st century bars in a concise and thorough 175 pages. Barleen sets the overarching focus of this book with a fascinating historical timeline of drinking and taverns beginning in 1750 BCE with Hammurabi’s Code and ending with Washington and Colorado legalizing recreational marijuana in 2012. Because this brief book traces American tavern history across centuries, it is not a deep historical dive but rather a detailed overview with suggested readings throughout the text and an extensive bibliography.

Barleen’s writing style is approachable making it accessible to a variety of audiences including undergraduates, graduate students, faculty, and general readers interested in exploring the history of American taverns. Barleen includes vivid descriptions of practical drinking establishment features including architecture, layout, and furnishings. This book includes a few images of tavern features such as business signs, caged bar counters, and mustache towels. Since this book is more of an overview of American tavern history, it would benefit readers if there were even more images and fewer written details of tavern features and prominent figures.

The Tavern is a well-researched, readable, and affordable volume that is recommended for public libraries and academic libraries with programs in history, sociology, anthropology and architecture. – Chrissy O’Grady, Research & Education Librarian, State University of New York at New Paltz, New Paltz, New York.


Therapy and Counseling: Your Questions Answered. By Christine L.B. Selby. Q&A Health Guides. Santa Barbara, CA: Greenwood, 2019. 131 pages. Acid-free $39 (ISBN 978-1-4408-6167-3). Ebook Available (978-1-4408-6168-0), call for pricing.

This well-organized guide to therapy and counseling aims to combat the stigma surrounding mental health treatment and answer common questions teens and young adults have about seeking help. By allaying common fears and uncertainties about the process, the answers provided in the book are likely to enlighten readers and make them more comfortable with the steps required to receive treatment for mental health. The book opens with A Guide to Health Literacy for readers who are tempted to seek out health information on their own, particularly online. The author then addresses misconceptions and answers questions about when and how to seek therapy, types of therapy, and how to navigate insurance benefits. Additionally, there are case studies that illustrate much of the content from the question-and-answer section in a relatable way.

The biggest strength of this guide is that it covers a swath of complicated information in an organized and succinct manner. There is enough information provided for teens and young adults to gain a better understanding of therapy and counseling without feeling overwhelmed. The health literacy guide includes a helpful chart and concise explanations of the basic tenets of health literacy. The sections on types of therapy and finding a counselor would have been bolstered by a discussion of multicultural and social justice counseling, particularly as the field of psychology is lacking in diversity, but as written it still provides a strong foundation for young adults interested in seeking help. The Q&A section does not shy away from more difficult topics, and a particularly helpful segment relates to the relationship between therapist and client, including what to do when the relationship isn’t working. Public and school libraries, or any library with a young adult patronage, would find this book to be a necessary part of the collection. This would also be a useful tool for parents and school counselors desiring to answer teens’ and young adults’ questions about mental health treatment.—Samantha Kannegiser, Student Success Librarian, Rutgers University—Camden, Camden, NJ.


Vaccination and its Critics: A Documentary Reference Guide. By Lisa Rosner. Documentary and Reference Guides. Santa Barbara, CA: Greenwood, 2017. 311 pages. Acid-free $88 (ISBN 978-1-4408-4183-5). Ebook available (978-1-4408-4184-2), call for pricing.

Vaccination remains a popular student research topic. Those who are familiar with ABC-CLIO’s Documentary and Reference Guide series will correctly guess that Vaccination and its Critics (VaIC) takes a historical approach, reprinting articles, book excerpts, government documents, interviews, and other primary sources. Rosner, a medical historian who has written mainly about 18th and early 19th-century topics, has arranged the material into eight chronological chapters. Accompanying each document is a 1-2 page analysis that provides context and additional details, as well as a further reading list.

At the time of publication, the CDC’s 2015 decision not to mandate vaccination for serogroup B meningococcal disease must have been fresh on the author’s mind. The in-depth account provided in VaIC’s introduction (xix-xxxi) may be of interest to some. Yet, both this reviewer and other readers would have benefitted from a fuller explanation of the author’s priorities in selecting documents for the volume, rather than so much detail about MenB, which wasn’t a key event in the larger scheme of things (judging from its absence in subsequent sections of the book). In particular, users who may not be attuned to ABC-CLIO’s retrospective focus may be very disappointed by chapter 1, titled “How Vaccines Work,” which could (or should) have provided solid scientific grounding and/or a preview of debates to come. Instead, it begins with “A Mother’s View of Vaccination” and “A Scientist’s View of Vaccination,” both written by 18th-century British supporters of vaccines. Nearly all the other documents in this crucial opening chapter are more than a century old, leaving readers to wonder about the mechanisms of modern inoculation—and why Lady Mary Montagu and Edward Jenner appear here, rather than in chapter 2, which covers the 1500s through the 1790s.

At the risk of seeming to advocate that even more attention be granted to inaccurate or speculative material that could misinform readers, I must say that it’s surprising that a volume that claims to include vaccine’s critics offers so little documentation of current anti-vaccination attitudes. Reading the “significance” paragraphs that head every document within chapters 7 and 8, only one item, Barbara Loe Fisher’s 2008 Congressional testimony, reflects the perspective of parents who delay or reject immunization for their children. Two other documents, Henry Beecher’s “Ethics in Clinical Research,” and an oral history from Frances Kelsey, an FDA staff member who prevented thalidomide from being approved by the agency, raise important questions about the scientific enterprise, but given their age (1960s), one wonders how influential their viewpoints are among today’s anti-vaxxers. It’s unfortunate that VaIC does not include any blog or social media posts that have accelerated the anti-vax movement. Legislation or another text shedding light on religious oppositions/exemptions to vaccines would have been helpful, too.

Libraries that subscribe to Sage’s CQ Researcher, Gale’s Opposing Viewpoints, or similar databases may already have sufficient material. For those who want a better understanding of the science, there are Barry R. Bloom and Paul-Henri Lambert’s The Vaccine Book, 2nd edition (Elsevier, 2016) and Tina Q. Tan, John P. Flaherty, and Melvin V. Gerbie’s The Vaccine Handbook (Oxford, 2018). Gretchen LaSalle’s Let’s Talk Vaccines (Wolters-Kluwer, 2020), which is written to help clinicians engage in conversations with concerned parents, is valuable as well. Overall, VaIC may be useful for special libraries focusing on the history of medicine, but it is an optional purchase for most others.—Bernadette A. Lear, Behavioral Sciences and Education Librarian, Penn State Harrisburg Library, Middletown, Pennsylvania


The Victorian World: A Historical Exploration of Literature.  By Anne DeLong.  Historical Explorations of Literature.  Santa Barbara, CA:  Greenwood, 2018.  236 pages.  Acid-free $63 (ISBN 978-1-4408-6043-0).  Ebook Available (978-1-4408-6044-7), call for pricing.

Anne DeLong, in The Victorian World: A Historical Exploration of Literature, provides students with an understanding of canonical works written during the Victorian era (1820 – 1914).  DeLong has a vast pool of knowledge and teaching experience in British romanticism, British Victorianism, gothic literature, and feminist literary theory.  With multiple works to her credit and as co-editor of the Journal of Dracula Studies, DeLong is well established in her field of expertise.  In this series, DeLong explores the three canonical works of Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte, Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte, The Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens, and various pieces of Victorian poetry.

DeLong places these works within the context of history, society, and culture with each work broken down into sections such as synopsis, historical background, author summary, “why we read this work” (work’s importance), historical exploration with documents, and suggested readings.  Much of this information is contained in previous companion works such as Deidre David’s (ed.) Cambridge Companion to the Victorian Novel (Cambridge University Press, 2013), Greenblatt, Christ, Robson, and Abrams’s (eds.) Norton Anthology of English Literature (Norton & Company, 2005), or Felluga, Gilbert, and Hughes’s (eds.) The Encyclopedia of Victorian Literature (Wiley Blackwell, 2005).  However, librarians should not hesitate to add DeLong’s work to their collection for the sections titled “historical exploration” and “documenting.”  Librarians, researchers, and students will benefit from the connections Delong creates between the canonical works and historical articles, essays, and reports included within this work.  Delong has thoughtfully introduced various supplemental pieces to highlight the canonical work’s themes and cultural impact focusing primarily on the status of women or social justice issues prevalent within British society during this era. 

Additionally, the suggested readings section ensures that readers can satisfy their subject curiosity through works authored by other experts within the field.  DeLong’s inclusion of poems by Elizabeth Barrett Browning are highly relevant to modern day issues which include but are not limited to women/children sex trafficking and women’s equality.  As King Solomon states “there is nothing new under the sun” (Holy Bible, Ecclesiastes 1:8-10 ESV). Women and children remain the collateral damage of a transitional, progressive society.

This book features a clear and useful chronology and introduction about the Victorian era.  DeLong comprehensively explains the state of the nation, prevailing societal attitudes, and the emerging call for literary fodder in a nation experiencing great transition through “reverse colonization,” “changes in traditional religious beliefs and practices,” and “scientific advancement.”  Those seeking to develop their collection on Victorian literature, researchers and students pursuing the elusive primary source material, or the general public will find DeLong’s contribution to the Historical Explorations of Literature series quite informative and a welcome addition to their library.—Traci J. Mays, Health and Human Services Librarian, Wilson G. Bradshaw Library, Florida Gulf Coast University, Fort Myers, Florida.


Violence in Popular Culture: American and Global Perspectives. Edited by Laura L. Finley. Santa Barbara, CA: Greenwood, 2018. 308 pages. Acid-free $94. (ISBN 978-1-4408-5432-3). Ebook Available (978-1-4408-5433-0), call for pricing. 

The reference book Violence in Popular Culture: American and Global Perspectives purpose is to explore the debate of violence in American popular culture by examining historical and current films, television, music, video games, and popular fiction.  The work includes significant past research on the effects of violence in media along with current trends in popular culture.  Along with known studies and research, the book contains a brief chronology of violence in American popular culture that accounts significant events from 1897 to the Parkland shooting in 2018.  The final portion of the work is an appendix with recommended resources for supplementary information.   

Violence in Popular Culture: American and Global Perspectives is divided into a number of sections that encompass violence in radio, film, television, music, literature, and video games.  Each section provides specific depictions of American violence as they appear in numerous forms of popular culture.  The 308 page hardcover reference book contains 110 specific entries of violence in popular culture with 30 sidebars on violence outside the United States.  The instances of violence detailed throughout the book are mostly concise with the average entry being about a page in length.  Each entry is followed by a list of further readings on the subject.  Violent subjects in the book cover a wide range of topics that include assault, murder, firearms, violence against women, etc.

While there have been many studies, articles, and online resources on the connections of violence in books, film, and video games to violence in society, not many have assembled numerous examples like Violence in Popular Culture: American and Global Perspectives.  Psychology, sociology, and criminology often have works that include information on violence in popular culture but not to the extent of Violence in Popular Culture: American and Global Perspectives.  The book’s entries can be engaging for movie buffs, historians, and fans of literature alike.  However, Violence in Popular Culture: American and Global Perspectives is best suited for anyone researching violence in society and its relationship to American popular culture.—Trent Shotwell, Special Collections & Archives Librarian, Sam Houston State University, Huntsville, Texas


The World of Jim Crow America: A Daily Life Encyclopedia.  Edited by Steven A. Reich.  Daily Life Encyclopedias.  Santa Barbara, CA:  Greenwood, 2019.  2 vols.  Acid-free $198 (ISBN 978-1-4408-5080-6).  Ebook Available (978-1-4408-5081-3), call for pricing.

This two-volume set explores “daily life” in the Jim Crow Era stretching from the 1890s to the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s, encompassing a time and place of crosspatch laws controlling nearly every aspect of the public and often private lives of African Americans in the South and wherever segregationist laws were enacted. Oddly, the only other work with a similar focus is from the same publisher, Brown and Stentiford’s The Jim Crow Encyclopedia (Greenwood, 2008). The major difference between the books being that the earlier work is a strictly A-Z traditional arrangement, while the new work is thematic in approach with entries arranged alphabetically under ten broad headings.

The stated purpose of the work is to introduce the reader to the life of the average African American under Jim Crow laws and to this end the work is successful by presenting nearly 200 well-researched and expertly written entries ranging in thematic groupings from “Economics and Work” and “Fashion and Appearance” to “Politics and Warfare” and “Recreation and Social Customs.” For the uninitiated reader, the thematic arrangement may be confusing, if they have a specific person or event to look up they must generally use the index in order to find where that topic is discussed. Other salient features of the set include a basic chronology starting at the end of the Civil War, very brief introductions to each subject grouping, and some illustrations sprinkled throughout. Furthermore, there are 35 primary documents, albeit a bit random in scope.  Perhaps this fact serves to bring into focus the reality of the capricious and intrusive nature of the laws and resultant society they created.

At this point, Greenwood’s Daily Life series dates back more than two decades and includes several complementary volumes to the work under review, including Daily Life in the Colonial South (2013), Daily Life of African American Slaves in the Antebellum South (2020), Daily Life during African American Migrations (2012), as well as several other broader titles of interest that libraries may consider purchasing. If a library owns the earlier Jim Crow Encyclopedia it may find it reasonable to skip this new work despite its differences in purpose and thematic approach to entries. Otherwise, the work under review’s historical importance would be a useful acquisition for community college and undergraduate serving libraries having no comparable reference material.—Brent D. Singleton, Coordinator for Reference Services, California State University, San Bernardino


­­­The World’s Greatest Religious Leaders: How Religious Figures Helped Shape World History. Edited by Scott E. Hendrix and Uchenna Okeja. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 2018.  2 vols. acid free $198 (ISBN 978-1-4408-4828-5).  Ebook available (978-1-4408-4138-5), call for pricing.

In their work, The World’s Greatest Religious Leaders: How Religious Figures Helped Shaped World History (WGRL), Hendrix and Okeja provide a notable and diverse collection of encyclopedic entries on individuals who have impacted societies and culture throughout history. 

The editor’s claim that WGRL “is quite distinct from other works” (p. xvii).  Through a variety of venues, the editors follow through with their claim and make WGRL a unique reference work.  One element making it distinct is their efforts to avoid temporal bias, and to be both religiously and geographically ecumenical.  One element displaying the temporal diversity is the timeline (pp. xxix-xxxiv).  While a timeline in and of itself is common, what stands out about the WGRL timeline is that a vast majority of entries on the timeline are entires in WGRL.  This empowers the patron to not only know which religious leaders were of a similar time, but also to further investigate issues from a temporal perspective.

A second element that displays these distinctions is WGRL’s Guide to Related Topics.  This guide is a great resource as it groups entries together by topic.  One notable element is that the editors understand that religious studies often do not fit into nice and neat classifications.  Subsequently, there are several entries listed under two or more headings.  For example, Augustine is listed under the headings “Catholicism” and “Christianity”; and Usman dan Fodio is listed under the headings “Islam” and “Sunni Islam.”  This tool allows patrons interested in a broader area than a specific religious leader, such as a particular religious movement, to discover the individuals WGRL discusses in relation to that movement. 

The article on Marcus Garvey is an excellent entry reflecting WGRL’s geographical and religious ecumenicity.  Marcus Garvey was a Jamaican-born black nationalist.  This article provides an excellent historical overview of Marcus Garvey and the religious impact he had throughout Jamaica and the world.  The entry notes that Garvey’s views are considered the basis of Rastafarianism.  The entry does not go into detail describing Rastafarianism, which with WGRL’s focus should not be a surprise.  For those interested in further study of Rastafarianism, however, this entry (and all entries in WGRL) have a Further Readings section.  In the entry on Marcus Garvey, the further readings section provides a few resources related to Rastafarianism.  While the article itself does stay focused on the biographical components of the individual discussed, the contributors are aware of the queries readers may have based on the article and often provide resources which may assist in meeting those queries.

Overall, WGRL is a notable resource.  It can provide answers to a simple query on religious leaders.  It also serves as a gateway to deep research on a variety of topics related to religious studies.  Its breadth and gateway to depth, make it a resource that would be welcome to any library (public or academic).  However, the tools provided in WGRL make it a critical starting point for any undergraduate inquiry in relation to religious studies.  WGRL would be a well utilized resource at any institution which has a religious studies program.—Garrett B. Trott, University Librarian, Corban University, Salem, Oregon


World War II Propaganda: Analyzing the Art of Persuasion During Wartime. By David Welch. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 2017. 196 pages. Acid-free $79 (ISBN 978-1-61069-673-9). Ebook Available (978-1-61069-674-6), call for pricing.

World War II Propaganda: Analyzing the Art of Persuasion during Wartime, by David Welch, is a one-volume work that gives an overview of propaganda during World War II including its history, theory, and practice (Welch, pg. xxiii). The author provides detailed coverage of both the Axis and Allied powers’ use of propaganda as a weapon and provides the reader with a large number of primary source examples.

Propaganda is always a popular area of research as it has been a tool used by governments and leaders for centuries.  The author focuses on World War II because of the unique role it plays in the history of propaganda. Technology and communication exploded in the 20th century making the spread of propaganda faster and easier than ever. To showcase the various means that were used to spread propaganda, the author includes primary sources from the major countries involved and discusses how those materials support the message the country in question was trying to send to its people. An excellent example of this is the author’s discussion of Britain’s media coverage of the Battle of Dunkirk in the chapter, “The Myth of Dunkirk.” Dunkirk was a tactical victory for Germany in 1940. While this could have been a discouraging event for Great Britain, Prime Minister Winston Churchill, in tandem with Duff Cooper from the Ministry of Information, spun the events in a way that galvanized the British public instead. They were extremely careful to focus on the positive and to reframe the negatives. Newspapers, cartoonists, and newsreels were all utilized and pushed the common message that retreat was not the same as defeat, and additionally they praised the efforts of British civilians’ contributions to the war effort which rallied the general populous around the war and kept morale up. Although Dunkirk was categorically a defeat, and could have completely demoralized both the British troops and public, the propaganda campaign launched by the British government ultimately resulted in Dunkirk being a symbol of heroism and resilience (Welch, pg. 50).

This resource is engaging, comprehensive, and well-researched. It provides the reader with relevant historical information and detailed analysis of the different types of propaganda and their effect on society. Although World War II propaganda has been discussed extensively, I believe this volume stands out as it provides coverage of both the Axis and Allied powers use of propaganda. Too often the focus is solely on Germany’s use of propaganda while each country’s government had a unique approach with both positive and negative outcomes. Given the enduring interest in World War II propaganda and the author’s treatment of the topic, I believe this volume would be an excellent addition to academic and research libraries. —Marissa Ellermann, Head of Circulation Services Librarian, Southern Illinois University Carbondale, Carbondale, Illinois

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