Densely packed with more than 400 tables, 100 black-and-white illustrations and maps, and much basic printed text, this book covers the American revolutionary period in 19 topical chapters. Most topics-geography, demographics, the economy, health, education, religion, science, the arts, popular culture, crime-receive adequate attention, with heavy emphasis on "insight into everyday life." On the other hand, Purvis (American National Biography Project) inexplicably slights the Revolutionary War, which, after all, is the central historical event of the period; only individual battles are briefly mentioned in a chronology. The first of four volumes in a series intended to explore the American experience from 1492 to 1945, this work is recommended for larger libraries as a complement to such standard sources as the Encyclopedia of Colonial and Revolutionary America (LJ 11/1/89) and the Encyclopedia of American Social History (LJ 6/1/93).-Ken Kister, author of "Kister's Best Encyclopedias," Tampa, Fla.
One of the several meanings of the word almanac is an annual publication composed of various lists, charts, and tables of useful information. With the exception of not being published annually, this first volume in a four-volume series adheres closely to that definition. Editor Purvis is the author of many books and articles on the colonial and revolutionary eras and the associate editor of the American National Biography Project. The volume "Modern America", covering 1914 to 1945, is also now available $70, 0-8160-2532-0. Future volumes in the series on the colonial and Victorian eras will be published in 1996 Virtually every aspect of American life during the period 1763 to 1800 is examined and analyzed in eighteen chapters on topics ranging from climate to crime and violence. The 425 tables and statistical charts are drawn from a variety of government documents, censuses, and secondary literature, and sources are always noted. The tables and charts are complemented by short analytical essays, 79 black-and-white illustrations, and 15 maps, some of which are reproductions of colonial city plans for places like Charleston and Boston. There is a short bibliographic essay, a detailed table of contents, and an index The economy, in chapter 4, is treated at greater length than any other topic, with 230 charts and statistical tables that discuss such industries as cotton, naval stores, and the fur trade. Among the more fascinating chapters are those focusing on population and diet and health. We learn, for example, that one in eight children born during this period died within a year, and one in five died before maturity. On the other hand, males who reached 21 lived to 61 years of age on average. The average family had seven children. The average height of soldiers in the Continental Army was five feet eight inches; while European soldiers averaged five feet seven. Americans living during this period ate four times as many turnips as potatoes Suggested improvements for future volumes in this series include moving chapter 3, which provides a detailed chronology, to the front or back of the volume, and the elimination of the chapter that has short biographical sketches of only 23 individuals, ranging from a president to a poet. These are readily available in greater depth elsewhere The series should have broad appeal for students at all levels and makes an excellent addition to the reference literature.
The number of white males under 16 in Tunbridge, Vermont in 1790; the party affiliation of Senators from North Carolina, 1793-95; annual per-capita alcohol consumption in 1770 (41.2 gal.); cattle prices in Essex County, Massachusetts in 1774; the frequency of newspaper issues 1769-85; and monthly average temperatures along the Atlantic coast are among the extensive and detailed (though not complete, of course) information provided in tables, charts, and text. Includes period illustrations and photographs of existing sites. The first in a four-volume set. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)