v25 #5 From the Reference Desk

by | Dec 5, 2013 | 0 comments

by Tom Gilson  (Associate Editor, Against the Grain, and Head of Reference Emeritus, College of Charleston, Charleston, SC 29401)  <[email protected]>

The Encyclopedia of Politics of the American West (2013, 978-1608719099, $325) is a title from CQ Press that hones in on an important element of American sectional politics.  Edited by Steven L. Danver, College of Undergraduate Studies at Walden University, this two-volume set examines the political development of one of the fastest-growing regions of America, not to mention one of the most mythical.  The American West has its own very distinct but nonetheless diverse identity, all of which is reflected in its politics.  This becomes abundantly clear as one examines this work.

The majority of the set is taken up by an A-Z listing of relevant articles, but Mr. Danver has wisely introduced the Encyclopedia with two other sections.  The first lays a foundation by discussing the major themes that have dominated Western politics.  Thoughtful essays that examine the impacts of immigration and migration, natural resource availability, the role of government, and rural and urban differences are all part of the discussion.  This section is followed by one that draws attention to the politics of specific regions and states ranging from the Great Plains of Kansas to the Pacific Northwest of Oregon to the mountains of Colorado to the dry deserts of the Southwest.  Both these sections are essential in clarifying the social, geographic, and economic complexities that underlie the evolution of Western politics.

The articles in the A-Z section of the set drill down and get into the specifics with entries that cover noteworthy individuals, important events, influential Western institutions, significant movements and organizations, as well as the key issues challenging the West.  While there are articles covering historical events and topics, the primary emphasis is on the 20th century formation of the West’s political identity and the results we are witnessing today.  These articles are concise and to the point, written in a fact-filled but reader-friendly style that will appeal to both lay readers and serious students.  “See also” references accompany each entry, as does a brief bibliography while photos, illustrations, and sidebars are interspersed throughout, adding visual highlights.  Each article is signed and there is a complete list of contributors with their academic affiliations.  The set is completed by an appendix that includes primary documents ranging the Northwest Ordinance of 1787 to the 2010 Arizona Senate bill on immigration.  A helpful Reader’s Guide, an alphabetical list of entries, and a solid general index offer guidance and multiple access points.

Encyclopedia of Politics of the American West is typical of reference works published by CQ Press.  It is accessible, well organized, and grounded in up-to-date research and scholarship.  Academic libraries supporting political science curriculums will find this set of real value, and it could easily find a place in either reference or circulating collections depending on need.  The set is also available online via the Sage Knowledge eBook platform at www.knowledge.sagepub.com/.


Sage Reference adds to its growing collection of subject encyclopedias with the Encyclopedia of Crisis Management (2013, 9781452226125, $350).  Edited by K. Bradley Penuel, Matt Statler, and Ryan Hagen this two-volume set provides interested researchers with 385 signed articles that combine to offer a comprehensive look this maturing field of study.

As societies become more complex and interconnected the number of serious crisis events has escalated along with a corresponding growth in the number of theoretical frameworks and tools being used to deal with these events.  A quick look at the Reader’s Guide in Volume One reflects this fact.  The Encyclopedia has articles that discuss crises stemming from natural disasters like floods, drought, and wildfire, as well as those related to politics, international relations, civil violence, and population and demographics.  However, the set also contains a similar number of entries that offer guidance on the theories, issues, and techniques used in working through such crisis events.  Rounding out the set are articles that explore the roles of U.S. and international government agencies, as well as non-governmental organizations like the Red Cross, Doctors without Borders, and World Water Relief.

The articles are not intended for the casual reader and are written with an academic and professional audience in mind.  The treatment afforded each topic is serious and in many cases assumes some awareness of what is being discussed.  Each entry has a useful bibliography of journal articles, Websites, and books for further reading, as well as a numerous “see also” references that lead to other relevant entries within the set.

Encyclopedia of Crisis Management is a reference work that not only offers useful and relevant information, it helps lend definition to the field by discussing both the nature of various crises, as well as the tools and techniques being used to prepare for, cope with, and mitigate, to the extent possible, their impacts.  As such it should prove a valuable resource for students studying crisis management, as well as professionals active in the field.  Academic libraries supporting crisis management courses will definitely want to consider this title either for reference or circulation.  One also suspects that it will find its way onto the personal shelves of interested professionals.  It is available online via the Sage Knowledge eBook platform.  (www.knowledge.sagepub.com/)


The Berkshire Encyclopedia of World Sport (2013, 9781933782676, $499) is now in its third edition.  However, you still may want to hang on to your earlier sets.  This new edition is not really an update of the prior editions.  It is more a new work that selects and updates a portion of those earlier references and melds them with coverage from Macmillan’s  International Encyclopedia of Women and Sports (2001, 978-0028649542, available used from Amazon) and the Berkshire Encyclopedia of Extreme Sports (2007, 978-0977015955, available new and used from Amazon).

In any case, under the guidance of editors Gertrud Pfister and David Levinson, the result is a three-volume set that contains over 300 “updated and new” entries that describe an array of individual sports, as well as offering thought-provoking essays on the social, economic, and political implications of sports both regionally and worldwide.

As you might expect, the majority of articles are on specific sports ranging from the obscure like camogie and parkour to those that have a global following like football (soccer), basketball, and the various track and field events.  The entries offer a thorough description of the sport, its origins and historic development, as well as current status and prospects for the future.  Readers will also find entries that cover ancient sports and sports history ranging from chariot racing to Mesoamerican ball court games.

While these sport specific articles are fascinating and provide pertinent facts and insights, students researching the broader implications of sports will be pleased to find additional topic entries in the set.  A look at the Reader’s Guide shows that there are a number of articles they will find useful including those that discuss subjects ranging from salary caps to eating disorders;  doping to fantasy sports;  homophobia to violence;  and gender equality to sports and national identity.

Aside from providing fascinating coverage of their topics, all entries are preceded by an abstract and a listing of keywords that help give readers a quick idea of what the article covers.  And as you would expect, numerous “see also” references are provided, as are bibliographies of a length appropriate to the subject.  Illustrations and photos are liberally placed throughout the text, which seems to be the norm for works published by Berkshire.  One word of warning, those interested in sports records and related statistics will have to look elsewhere.  Fortunately there are a number of online resources where such information can be found.  A quick search of the phrase “sports records” in your favorite browser will produce numerous examples.

The Berkshire Encyclopedia of World Sport will no doubt have broad appeal.  The approach taken is academic enough to please serious researchers but accessible enough to pique the interest of sports fans and aficionados.   Given the popularity of the topic, public, undergraduate, and some larger high school libraries may all be in the market for this title.   Currently an online edition of the Berkshire Encyclopedia of World Sport is available through MyiLibrary (Ingram) with the possibility of it also being available via Credo and the Gale Virtual Reference Library.  Check the Berkshire Website (http://www.berkshirepublishing.com) for status updates.  Plans call for up to 20 articles on sporting events like the World Cup to be updated online.


If you thought that the corruption and fraud evidenced during the sub-prime meltdown and the Ponzi schemes of Bernie Madoff were something unique, the Encyclopedia of White-Collar & Corporate Crime (2013, 9781452225302, $350) will quickly rectify that perception.  Published by Sage Reference, this is the second edition of a reference first published in 2004.  Like its predecessor it casts a broad net as it attempts to cover corporate, organizational, governmental, financial, and political white-collar crime.

Once again Lawrence M. Salinger is at the editorial helm.  He and his contributors offer a solid update with 80 new entries that helps bring into focus the historical record, economic costs, and political ramifications of white-collar and corporate crime.  Numerous articles discuss specific offenses and crimes, as well as perpetrators and offending corporations.  Other entries focus on government and political scandals, medical and health care fraud, regulatory responses and theories and concepts related to criminology and justice. Steeped in current scholarship, the entries offer readers factual descriptions and explanations of the issues and events discussed.  Lists of further readings accompany each entry, as do “see also” references.  There are also a number of value-added features including a useful chronology, a brief glossary, and an appendix containing summaries of eight of the most influential laws related to white-collar crime.  The set uses the typical A-Z arrangement, but there is a Reader’s Guide to articles by category, as well as a well-constructed general index.

The Encyclopedia of White-Collar & Corporate Crime offers a revealing picture of the darker side of U.S. economic and political life, as well as providing a look at the measures taken to combat it.  Researchers will be pleased to find such a concentration of diverse but relevant articles in one place.  While intended for an academic audience, these two volumes should also appeal to larger public libraries where there is interest in the topic.  This set is also available online on the SAGE Reference eBook platform.  (www.knowledge.sagepub.com/)


Extra Servings

Salem Press has just released a few titles that some people may be interested in:

•    Magill’s Literary Annual, 2013 (978-1-4298-3809-2, $195;  eISBN: 978-1-4298-3812-2, $195) is a classic reference that “critically evaluates 200 major examples of serious literature published during the previous calendar year… The reviews are arranged alphabetically by title.  The text of each essay-review analyzes the focus, intent, and relative success of the author, as well as the makeup and point of view of the work under discussion.  Essays are supplemented by a list of “Review Sources” for additional study.  Every essay includes a sidebar offering a brief biography of the author or authors.  (Purchase of the 2013 Annual includes online “access to 37 years of past Annuals.” This archive is available through the online host Salem Literature.)

•    Defining Documents in American History: The Civil War: 1860-1865 (978-1-4298-3746-0, $295;  eISBN: 978-1-4298-3749-1, $295) “contains 35 primary source documents with document analysis and lesson plans for use in teaching themes and issues of the Civil War era (1860-1865) to advanced high school and undergraduate students…”

•    Biomes & Ecosystems (978-1-4298-3813-9, $395;  eISBN: 978-1-4298-3818-4; $395) “serves as a general and non-technical resource for students and teachers to understand the importance of biomes and ecosystems; to discover the biology and geography of these places around the world;  to learn the history of biomes and ecosystems; and to initiate educational discussion brought forth by the specific social and topical articles presented in the work…”

SAGE Reference is also adding new titles to their line-up:

•    Health Care Systems Around the World: A Comparative Guide (978-1-4522-0-3126, $175;  eISBN: 978-1-4522-7-6212, $219) “provides a one-stop point of research exploring health care systems for over 190 countries worldwide.  Organized in alphabetical order by country name, with a consistent format for each, researchers will find comparable information for … ten major health care categories accompanied by charts, tables, and photos as appropriate.”

•    Encyclopedia of Military Science (ISBN: 978-1-4129-6933-8, $595;  eISBN: 978-1-4522-7633-5, $744) covers  “recent American military history since the end of the Cold War with a special emphasis on peacekeeping, the First Persian Gulf War, the events surrounding 9/11, the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and how the military has been changing in relation to these events…”

CQ Press is offering some new releases including:

•    Encyclopedia of Social Media and Politics (978-1-4522-4471-6, $325) is a two-volume set that explores “how the rise of social media is altering politics both in the United States and in key moments, movements, and places around the world.  Its scope encompasses the disruptive technologies and activities that are changing basic patterns in American politics, and the amazing transformations that social media use is rendering in other political systems heretofore resistant to democratization and change…”

•    Encyclopedia of Modern Political Thought (978-0-8728-9910-0, $325) is a new reference that examines  “modern and contemporary political thought since 1750, looking at the thinkers, concepts, debates, issues, and national traditions that have shaped political thought from the Enlightenment to post-modernism and post-structuralism…” offering readers “historical context to the philosophical issues and debates that have shaped attitudes toward democracy, citizenship, rights, property, duties, justice, equality, community, law, power, gender, race, and legitimacy over the last three centuries…”

Within the last couple of months Oxford University Press published:

•    Oxford Encyclopedia of Biblical Interpretation (9780199832262, $295) is a two-volume work that provides “detailed, comprehensive treatments of the latest approaches to and methods for interpretation of the Bible written by expert practitioners. It will provide a single source for authoritative reference overviews of scholarship on some of the most important topics of study in the field of biblical studies…”

•    Atlas of the World (9780199328468, $89.95), now in its twentieth edition, is the “only world atlas updated annually… filled with maps of cities and regions at carefully selected scales that give a striking view of the Earth’s surface… provides details on numerous topics of geographic significance, such as climate change, food and water supply, biodiversity, energy, global conflict, and landforms…”

ABC-CLIO also plans another new title:

•    Asian Americans: An Encyclopedia of Social, Cultural, Economic, and Political History (978-1-59884-239-5, $310; eISBN, 978-1-59884-240-1, call for pricing) “This three-volume work represents a leading reference resource for Asian American studies that gives students, researchers, librarians, teachers, and other interested readers the ability to easily locate accurate, up-to-date information about Asian ethnic groups, historical and contemporary events, important policies, and notable individuals…”

And Bloomsbury Publishing has just released an updated edition of a standard:

•    Fairchild Books Dictionary of Textiles (9781609015350, $195) is in its 8th edition and “is fully revised and expanded, featuring approximately 100 new entries and over 14,000 definitions of fibers, fabrics, laws, and regulations affecting textile materials and processing, inventors of textile technology, and business and trade terms relevant to textiles…”


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