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Encyclopedia of American History


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Gr 9 Up-This impressive, authoritative reference work covers topics spanning a period from approximately 11,000 B.C.E. through December 2001. Each volume has a separate editor (there is a general editor for the set) and most of the essays are signed. The volumes are organized chronologically, but the entries within each volume are alphabetical. Each book begins with a contents list, and there are copious see and cross-references. Essays of varying length cover events; "major categories of the American experience" (education, urbanization, etc.); people, places, concepts, and more. At the end of each entry, one or more suggestions for further reading (generally adult titles) are offered. Unfortunately, the volumes are sparsely illustrated with average-quality, black-and-gray photographs, drawings, and maps. In a resource that attempts to be as comprehensive as this one, more visuals, especially maps, are mandatory. Each book concludes with a volume-specific chronology, bibliography, and index. A separate index volume provides comprehensive access to the set. One of the best features of this resource are the "Document" sections that provide the full text of key portions of significant historical papers. This encyclopedia is a valuable resource for students of American history and can be used to support any classroom text, offering students ample opportunity for fuller exploration of topics of interest. That the encyclopedia "follows the architecture of The National Standards for United States History" is an additional point in its favor. While the volumes are not particularly attractive, the depth of content on many of the topics far exceeds that found in any general encyclopedia and many specialized resources.-Linda Greengrass, Bank Street College Library, New York City Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

This 11-volume set is designed to engage the history student by expanding the margins of the subject without trimming any vital part of the national story. Overseen by general editor Nash (history, UCLA), an author of the National Standards for United States History, each of the roughly 3500 entries (most signed) in this stately, balanced work is fairly presented and reflects the latest research. Breaking U.S. history into chronological increments (e.g., "Three Worlds Meet," "Colonization and Settlement," "Revolution and New Nation," and "Expansion and Reform"), each of the ten well-illustrated text volumes in the set (750 photos and 200 maps overall) has its own specialist editor, concluding with the world since 1969 and a comprehensive set index. Volume 2 devotes entries to everything from the Colonial-era Iroquois Beaver Wars to "Crowd Actions" in the Old and New Worlds. While the personal weaknesses of a subject such as Lindbergh or Henry Ford get mentioned, these gratefully don't obscure the subject's accomplishments; it is for the reader to weigh the good against the bad. (Even Horatio Alger's profile carefully rehearses the importance of his "rags-to-riches" genre of boys' stories before mentioning the pederasty charges against him.) The accounts of social and political movements (e.g., Progressivism, the Free Silver Movement, and Prohibition) ably balance their period's tangled political influences and are as complex as space allows. However, students researching a particular historical figure may occasionally be frustrated by the approach: in Volume 7 (1900-1928), such epochal figures as Al Capone and Babe Ruth are folded quietly into the social histories of "Prohibition" and "Sports," respectively. In its tone and scope, this encyclopedia should appeal to students and to all researchers who have been fondly using Scribner's fluent and reliable seven-volume Dictionary of American History, just released in a 3d edition by Gale. Highly recommended for all public library reference collections and for undergraduate libraries needing a general reference and worth considering by high school libraries as well.-Nathan Ward, "Library Journal" Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

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