The Columbia guide to American environmental history /

Main Author: Merchant, Carolyn.
Format: Book
Language: English
Published: New York : Columbia University Press, c2002.
Series: The Columbia guides to American history and cultures
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Review by Choice Review

Environmental historian Merchant in a brief introduction orients readers to basic concepts and explains the volume's structure. Ten chapters with notes provide an overview of US environmental history, some presenting views by scholars (e.g., William Cronon) with whom Merchant may disagree. Chapters treat changing land use, economic factors, government policy toward land and humans (especially Native Americans), urbanism, ecology in intellectual history, and environmental movements--good introductions or reviews, but researchers should check the bibliographic essays and specialized bibliographies near the end of the book. A glossary follows, featuring government agencies, terms, laws, and people mentioned in the text, but the text lacks cross-references or symbols to lead readers to this section. Mark Grossman's The ABC-CLIO Companion to the Environmental Movement (CH, May'95), Conservation and Environmentalism: An Encyclopedia, ed. by Robert Pachlke (1995), and John Mongillo and Linda Zierdt-Warshaw's Encyclopedia of Environmental Science (CH, Apr'01) provide more comprehensive coverage, and Anne Becher et al.'s American Environmental Leaders: From Colonial Times to the Present (CH, May'01), more detailed biographies of major figures. Merchant supplies an annotated time line, but that in Great Events from History II. Ecology and The Environment Series, ed. by Frank Magill (5 v., CH, Apr'96) is more comprehensive. A guide to visual (video/film) and electronic (Internet sites) resources provides excellent coverage and describes access for videos, but six entries recommend a specific interlibrary loan office, complete with e-mail address, which users should ignore, because ILL requests are made through one's home library. Further, several citations are incomplete, unlike many others in the section. Merchant warns of the "ephemeral" nature of Web sites; several she lists are no longer active. Essential for college, university, and large public libraries, and special libraries supporting US history, ecology, geography, or environmentalism. K. Cleland-Sipfle formerly, Southern Oregon University

Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.
Review by Booklist Review

This latest addition to the Columbia Guides to American History and Cultures series has 10 chapters on historical topics and themes; a 60-page dictionary of environmental agencies, concepts, laws, and people important in American environmental history; an environmental history time line; and a lengthy "Resource Guide." The 10 overview essays are good introductions to general topics. For example, chapter 7, "Conservation and Preservation, 1785^-1950," discusses changing land policies and laws, social and scientific movements, and park creation--wide-ranging topics succinctly described and interrelated. "Urban Environments, 1850^-1960" (chapter 6) is a reminder that the human environment is often far removed from the natural environment, though its impact is considerable. The chapters have bibliographies of the main sources consulted, useful to those whose interest has been piqued. The table of contents lists both chapter titles and the subheadings for the topics mentioned in each. The "Resource Guide" offers lists of visual (films and videos) and electronic resources arranged by topic as well as a bibliographic essay and a bibliography of articles and books in 21 categories. The books in the bibliography could serve as a guide when developing a core collection on environmental history. This volume, like the others in the series, should prove to be a welcome addition to academic and large library collections.

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.