Bankston (sociology, Tulane Univ.; The Sociology of Katrina: Perspectives on a Modern Catastrophe) details the lives of significant African Americans from the late Colonial period to today. The subject's significance in history or modern culture, the representation of a wide range of fields and times, relevance to school curricula, and interest to readers make up the criteria for inclusion. The 800 essay-style entries range in length from two to four pages and discuss a range of figures, such as Hank Aaron, Bill Cosby, Beyoncé Knowles, Shirley Chisholm, Crispus Attucks, and Matthew Henson. Readers are presented with vital information and a brief synopsis of the person's life, followed by the sections "Early Life," "Life's Work," and "Significance." The entries are written in a readable, concise style, often illustrated with color photos, and conclude with suggestions for further reading and helpful cross-references. The work ends with a chronological list of entries, several bibliographies and listings of other resources, and both a category and a subject index. BOTTOM LINE This is a more digestible competitor to Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham's African American National Biography (Oxford, 2009), but that set contains several hundred more entries. This work serves as a useful quick reference for supporting patrons researching African Americans in history or modern times.—Samantha Schmehl Hines, Univ. of Montana-Missoula Lib.
Gr 5 Up—The 800 essays presented here succinctly outline the lives, experiences, and accomplishments of African Americans who contributed to fields such as art, education, literature, music, and science. The selections, which are approximately two to four pages each, quickly and effectively provide important and interesting facts about their subjects. The strength of the set is the breadth of information offered and the high number of figures included. The coverage spans centuries and describes high-profile people such as Muhammad Ali and Rosa Parks and individuals who are perhaps lesser-known, such as Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm and sociologist Kenneth Clark. The clearly written, accessible essays open with dates of birth and death and areas of achievement and are divided into three parts—early life, life's work, and significance—and are followed by further-reading lists. Sidebars, a pronunciation key, and (in most entries) captioned, archival black-and-white photographs are included. The material is easy to navigate, given the alphabetical table of contents in each volume and multiple indexes in volume five. Although this is not an ideal set for in-depth, lengthy research, it is great for quick reference and/or for supplementing longer biographies for reports.—Rita Meade, Brooklyn Public Library, NY