"Blending trivia with historical review, David L. Hudson Jr. presents a thematic glossary of various factoids major and minor, including: historical eras, religion, war, politics, law, economics, social movements, disasters, medicine, philosophy, science, and recreation." —"Book News "(December 2012)
- Barbara L. Talcroft
As part of the "Handy" reference series (preserving its question and answer format), this title has been updated by Hudson, author of similar volumes on law, the Supreme Court, and American presidents. Hudson chooses keywords or names that history buffs may have encountered and want to identify quickly, producing short answers to often complex questions covering the entire history of the world. Actually, it is more the history of Europe and the United States, though other countries of Africa and Asia often appear in entries where you might not expect them. Questions are arranged in chapters, beginning with "Eras and Their Highlights," proceeding through categories including religion, exploration (by Europeans) from the Vikings to space, and "War and Conflict," mostly European and American, though this section does include questions about the Sino-Japanese War and—presumably part of the updating—some information about recent wars in the Middle East, Rwanda, Darfur, and Afghanistan. Still, there is something lacking in an account of the Crimean War that does not mention Sevastopol, or World War I without Lawrence of Arabia. In a Q&A format "Government and Politics" is difficult to explain, one answer often overlapping another, causing confusion (in one case) over who was really the first Holy Roman Emperor—Otto I in 962 or Charlemagne in the year 800? In "Politics and Movements," teens will most likely enjoy entries on the Beats, hippies, and the recent Occupy movement, while young feminists will be enlightened about suffragist heroes Alice Paul and Emmeline Pankhurst—but this section is perhaps better for browsing than for locating specific answers. Chapters on science, philosophy, and medicine hit the highlights, offering young adults ideas for longer reports. Though Hudson is certainly to be commended for including a section on "Culture and Recreation," he crams in short entries about topics ranging from "written language" through nearly all the arts and sports, each of which could easily fill a volume of its own—it is hard to take seriously a history of dance, for example, that leaves out George Balanchine! Overall, seekers will find this reference not so handy if they do not already know the key questions; there is, of course, an index of everything mentioned. Especially for readers just discovering history, Internet sites with their links are probably much handier for quick access to both information and images. Reviewer: Barbara L. Talcroft
School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up—This update of the 2006 edition retains the question-and-answer format of previous editions, with answers ranging from a single paragraph to about a page in length. Topics are an interesting mix of events, people, and ideas, and chapters are arranged chronologically. Most topics are unchanged, but sports, which was formerly covered in "Culture and Recreation," now has a section of its own. New questions are added throughout, most of which fill gaps in information, provide more diverse coverage of ethnic groups and international topics, or discuss recent events-the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill, for example. Some questions about ongoing controversies, such as the Guantanamo Bay prison, have been revised, and a few questions regarding obscure and dated topics have been removed. Changes include the addition of bullet points and lists to improve clarity, a smaller but still easily read font, and the removal of the chronology and bibliography. This edition also adds maps and replaces almost all of the black-and-white illustrations, but the new ones are small, dark, and minimally captioned and thus add little to the text. Although generally well written and succinct, this book offers little background and analysis and much of its information can be easily found in other sources, including online. There is not enough new material to justify replacement for libraries that hold the second edition, and, while the format may draw browsers, the material lacks the depth to be useful to researchers, making it additional even in libraries that lack the earlier work.—Mary Mueller, formerly at Rolla Junior High School, MO
David L. Hudson Jr. is the author or coauthor of more than 20 books, including "The American Bar Association Guide to Credit and Bankruptcy," "The Encyclopedia of the First Amendment," "The Handy Law Answer Book," and "The Handy Supreme Court Answer Book." He works as a First Amendment scholar at the First Amendment Center and teaches at Vanderbilt Law School, the Nashville School of Law, and Middle Tennessee State University. He lives in Smyrna, Tennessee.