Zom Zoms"African American Biography" comprises four of the nine volumes of Gale's African American Reference Library, a resource aimed at junior high and middle school students. The other volumes are "African American Chronology" ["RBB" F 15 94] and "African American Almanac" (forthcoming) These four alphabetically arranged volumes, each about 200 pages, profile some 300 important African Americans past and present. Subjects range from Augusta Baker and Josephine Baker to Booker T. Washington and Denzel Washington. The choice of entries is quite selective, containing, for instance, only 22 individuals whose primary field is athletics, plus a group entry for the Harlem Globetrotters Each entry begins with name, fiel (s) of endeavor, date and place of birth, and, if applicable, death. Most follow with a short quotation and include a black-and-white photograph. The heart of each entry is a readable life sketch highlighting the subject's youth, education, accomplishments, and honors. The reporting is quite objective and, while not going into great detail, does not avoid controversial aspects of subjects' lives. The largely positive profile of Michael Jackson, for instance, touches on public perceptions of his "weirdness" and "quirkiness" and devotes a paragraph to the recent allegations of his sexual misconduct. An index to field of endeavor is repeated in each volume. Sources, ranging from "People" magazine to the "New York Times", are indicated within the profiles, much in the manner of "Current Biography", but there are no formal bibliographies. The "facts" may sometimes deserve questioning, such as the assertion that Fannie Lou Hamer's grandmother died at the age of 136 This would be an excellent reference source for junior high and middle school students as well as for many high-schoolers. Its main weakness is the dearth of documentation and guides to further reading. "Contemporary Black Biography" and "Notable Black American Women", both also from Gale, provide considerable overlap with "African American Biography" but with more detailed entries and greater documentation. Each set, however, profiles individuals that the others omit.
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