Review by Choice Review
Encyclopedias are both invitations to explore and tools to find particular information. The Princeton Encyclopedia of American Political History amply fulfills both of those functions with (at first glance) a relatively brief inventory of 187 alphabetically arranged major entries. The discerning user soon discovers a 28-page index, which supplements the entries by listing personal, corporate, and geographical names, along with more discrete topics. This source contains an 8-page roster of 170 contributors, most of whom are established practitioners in their fields, along with their academic or institutional affiliations and areas of expertise. This editorial decision helps to satisfy the encyclopedia's goal of offering informed interpretations, rather than just factual accounts or summaries of other scholars' views, since many of these contributing historians, journalists, and social scientists are those whose opinions academics seek and cite. Instead of a general, concluding last volume bibliography, essays carry individual suggestions for further reading; in nearly every instance, these are restricted to books and articles in print format.The editors broadly envision politics as "the meaning and uses of power in the public sphere and the competition to gain that power." Political history embraces the influence that the larger forces of popular culture, religion, regional context, economic interests, and categories of social identity have exerted on electoral and institutional changes. Limiting such an endeavor to two volumes necessarily results in a less than universal, although nevertheless masterful, product. Cross-references, black-and-white illustrations (which, unlike the essays, bear descriptions rather than interpretations), maps, and appendixes (comprising basic constitutional documents, occupants of federal executive and judicial positions, and congressional party strength) all serve to make this work an important source for researchers at all levels to consult for introductory information. Summing Up: Essential. Lower-level undergraduates and above; general readers. F. J. Augustyn Jr. Library of Congress
Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.
Review by Booklist Review
Assuming an expansive definition of politics, this encyclopedia offers accessible, thorough, and enlightening coverage of political history in the U.S. from colonial times through the conservative ascendancy period, which ended in 2008 with the election of Barack Obama. The 187 signed essays by academics and journalists provide historical background, context, and analysis. Each essay concludes with a bibliography and cross-references. Librarians may find the bibliographies useful for collection-assessment purposes; students will surely find inspiration for term papers among the essays and can use the cited works for more in-depth research. As outlined in the Topical List of Entries, the A-Z essays fall under 11 areas, including Periods (Era of consensus, 1952-1964; Gilded Age, 1870s-90s); Institutions (Think tanks, Welfare); Movements (Civil rights, Populism); Political Parties (Libertarian Party, Progressive parties); and Mass Culture (Internet and politics, Popular music and politics). Topics that span long time periods, such as the economy, the presidency, and the Republican Party, are broken into multiple chronological essays. Following the A-Z portion of the encyclopedia, the second volume contains the text of founding documents as well as charts listing presidential election results, members of presidential administrations, war casualties, historical party strength in Congress, and similar data. A comprehensive index concludes the set. Because there are no biographical essays in the encyclopedia, the index must be used when researching prominent individuals. The use of varying fonts and types makes the work visually appealing. Highly recommended for those interested in politics and history in public and academic libraries.--Lewis, Jan Copyright 2010 Booklist
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Library Journal Review
Defining political history as "the subject of who gets elected to office and what they do with the powers granted to them by voters, law, and constitutions," this resource presents approximately 190 essays on various aspects of American politics by some 170 scholars. Each signed, five- to eight-page article includes a brief bibliography of additional resources. Topics range from advertising, cartooning, and gender and sexuality to Iraq wars, think tanks, and state governments. The appendix features such miscellaneous information as territory, statehood, population, presidential election results, cabinet members by administration, and American war statistics. Written for "readers at all levels of knowledge," the essays contain basic, accurate but only partially complete information. For example, Attorney Gen. John D. Ashcroft (2001-05) has been left off the list of George W. Bush's cabinet members, and web site references and presidential biographical information have been excluded. Bottom Line This is a good, although pricey, complement to Carl C. Hodge and Cathal J. Nolan's U.S. Presidents and Foreign Policy: From 1789 to the Present. It serves as a useful introduction to American politics but provides the kind of information already available in numerous other sources, making it an optional purchase for most libraries.-Laurie Selwyn, Grayson Cty. Law Lib., Sherman, TX (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.