Library JournalAs part of the ambitious ``Handbooks to the Modern World'' series, editor Hodgson, a journalist and historian, attempts to provide a transatlantic perspective on developments within the United States since 1945 through statistical data and illuminating interpretative and analytical essays by prominent scholars. Volume 1 presents short introductions to the recent history of each state and the District of Columbia, followed by current data (including maps and statistical tables) on economic development, media, education, transportation, and so on. The impressionistic introductions occasionally convey inaccurate or unsubstantiated information. Much of the statistical data can also be found in Almanac of the Fifty States (Information Pubns., 1991. 7th rev. ed.) and Facts About the States ( LJ 12/89). Volumes 2 and 3 take five broad categories (History Since World War II, Demography, Politics, Economics, and Social Affairs) and subdivide them into 50 subject areas--for example, suburbs, healthcare, crime and punishment, and seven more topics within Social Affairs. Such noted scholars as Russell Kirk, Abraham Lowenthal, and Hugh Brogan address the various subjects. The essays, many with bibliographies and footnotes, are informative, well written, and often provocative. Certain areas, including the environment, sports, and the drug culture, do not appear in separate articles but are frequently mentioned throughout. Inaccuracies and omissions notwithstanding, this work brings together a vast array of information to create a useful introduction to modern American life. Recommended for academic and large public library reference collections.--Charles C. Hay III, Eastern Kentucky Univ. Archives, Richmond
School Library JournalGr 8 Up-Another strong addition to this series. The first volume contains profiles of each state plus the District of Columbia, covering recent history, population (1990 census), geography, economic aspects, agriculture, media, and biographical sketches of political figures. Comparative statistical tables (e.g., geography, demographics, employment, education) will assist serious researchers. Volumes two and three feature lengthy, signed essays that focus on demographics, politics, economics, social affairs, and history since World War I. Views on what the United States has accomplished, where it stands now, and what it can hope to achieve in the future are presented with objective analysis. Students seeking background information and statistical evidence of issues (e.g., space exploration, health care, crime and punishment, foreign policy) will find these essays both readable and useful. Sources for further reading and a detailed index add to the value of this reference set.-Nancy Bard, Thomas Jefferson Sci-Tech, Fairfax County, VA
Zom ZomsThis is the latest addition to Facts On File's regional series, Handbooks to the Modern World. A volume on Canada is also due to be published this fall. The Board gave generally positive recommendations to previous titles in the series, "The Soviet Union and Eastern Europe" and "Western Europe" ["RBB" Ag 86]. As with all sources of this type, the statistics will soon be out-of-date. However, the articles are of high quality and will be useful for many years. Hodgson is foreign editor of the London's "Independent" newspaper and has published other books on American affairs, including "America in Our Time". The 55 contributors are English and American academics and writers. For example, theologian Martin Marty wrote "The American Ethical Condition and Prospect." All essays are signed Volume 1 profiles the 50 states plus the District of Columbia. The profiles, uniformly arranged, cover history, geography, population, employment, agriculture, education, health, social services, crime, media, and government. For example, the Arkansas entry describes the 1957 Little Rock school integration crisis and gives statistics on marriage rate, ethnic composition, housing starts, crop production, teacher salaries, criminal justice expenditures, and voting. All population data are from the 1990 census. Each profile begins with a black-and-white map of the state and concludes with brief biographical sketches of elected officials and a telephone and address list of state information sources (e.g., chamber of commerce, board of tourism). A series of state-by-state comparative statistics completes this volume (e.g., population, employment, personal income) Volumes 2 and 3 consist of several dozen essays grouped into five broad categories: post-World War I history, demography, politics, economics, and social affairs. Often 5,000 to 10,000 words in length, they offer a well-balanced mix of background explanation, detail, and analysis. For example, the essay "Crime and Punishment" begins with a discussion of the measurement of crime (police statistics, victimization surveys, self-report studies) and its social dimensions (region, community size, sex, race, age, and class). Substantial statistical evidence is cited ("In 1988, 28% of all people arrested for serious crimes were under the age of 18 and 57% were under the age of 25"). Following is a clear overview of types of crimes, reasons for criminal activity, methods of treatment (e.g., retribution versus rehabilitation), and the issue of capital punishment. Some essays conclude with bibliographies. The index at the back of volume 3 covers the whole set This is a recommended purchase for large public libraries and to support undergraduate work in academic libraries. While the first volume belongs in the reference collection, volumes 2 and 3 should probably be circulated. Europa's "The USA and Canada" [My 15 90] does not treat individual states, and it is less current and more expensive. However, it does include more directory information than does "The United States".
BooknewsA three-volume handbook, exploring the state of the Union from the end of WWII to the present, examining and explicating its inner workings, and illuminating its current crises and controversies. Volume 1 provides a compendium of basic but otherwise hard-to-find information, including maps and statistical tables, on each of the 50 states and Washington, DC. Volumes 2 and 3 contain essays by 55 journalists and scholars, preeminent in their fields, who offer their views on what the US has accomplished, where it stands now, and what kind of future it can hope to achieve. The contributors include Hugh Brogan, Russell Kirk, Theodore Lowi, James L. Sundquist, Abraham Lowenthal, Saul Landau, Richard E. Cohen, and Martin E. Marty. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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