The Scribner Encyclopedia of American Lives (SEAL) is a biographical dictionary series in which each subsequent volume will cover a five-year period. Scribner envisions SEAL as the continuation of the Dictionary of American Biography (DAB). Volume 1 "contains the biographies of 494 persons who died between 1 January 1981 and 31 December 1985." Selection criteria are that the biographees made significant contributions to American life and culture, e.g., Grace Kelly and Archibald Macleish, or "deserve to be remembered," e.g., Dian Fossey, Dewey Markham, and Karen Ann Quinlan. An appreciable number of women and people of color are recognized. All biographies are signed contributions by 332 scholars. Readable and of varying length, these entries contain biographical references, and most are accompanied by a photograph of the biographee. Three essays include the "traditional biographical data, such as birth and death dates, place of birth and place of death, and a chronological order of the details of the biographee's life, for example, parents, family life, occupation (s) or careers, marriage, and achievements. The volume has an occupations index and directory of contributions and their contributions, though for quick reference an index of biographees would have been welcomed. Perhaps future volumes will also include a topical index--a feature of DAB--listing historical events and names of institutions, religions, organizations, etc., that were prominent in a biographee's life. However, SEAL's greatest importance is that it places the individual in historical context. A valuable successor of the highly respected scholarly tradition set by DAB. [See Inside Track, "Dueling Dictionaries, LJ 11/15/98.--Ed.]--Charles L. Lumpkins, Pennsylvania State Univ.
Presents biographies of 494 outstanding Americans who died between 1981 and 1985. Each essay appraises the circumstances and influences that shaped the life of the individual subject and concludes with a brief analysis of his or her legacy. The authors have provided basic data such as the places and full dates of birth and death, names and occupations of parents, number of siblings, educational institutions attended and degrees granted, names of spouses and dates of marriages and divorces, the number of children, and when possible, residences, cause of death, and place of burial. Most entries are accompanied by a photograph. Annotation c. by Book News, Inc., Portland, Or.