From School Library Journal
Gr 6 Up-Biographical sketches of important movers and shakers of the last two centuries. Arranged alphabetically, with a corresponding table of contents by "cause," the 5-to-10 page, easy-to-read entries detail the lives, careers, and social or environmental impact of 68 individuals and 7 organizations. The scope of the work is impressive, ranging from Nelson Mandela to Rigoberta Mench£, Britain to Bangladesh, and Jane Addams to the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. However, there is no criteria for inclusion, and readers will undoubtedly find that some personal heroes have been omitted. Many entries include interesting notes or quotes in the margins. The set features a comfortable layout with shaded insets of pertinent connections. Entries conclude with a bibliography and at least one average-quality, black-and-white photo. Each volume includes a full table of contents, an extensive time line of events from 1818 to 1999, and a complete index. An excellent addition to any reference biography collection.
Mary R. Hofmann, Rivera Middle School, Merced, CA
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
This reference set offers students an introduction to a number of mainly U.S. activists between 1818 and 1999. The editor does not state the basis for inclusion of the 68 individuals and seven organizations beyond the fact that they are believed to "have helped shape the course of history." The famous, such as Ralph Nader and Harriet Tubman, are balanced with the lesser-known, such as Michigan educator Joseph Dulin and Malaysian environmentalist Harrison Ngau. Mohandas Gandhi, Karl Marx, and Paul Robeson have entries, but the Dalai Lama, Vladimir Lenin, and Rosa Parks do not. The handful of organizations seems to get the least-even coverage. The Highlander Research and Education Center, a facility in Tennessee that trains activist organizations and labor unions, is included, but the American Red Cross, Foxfire, Greenpeace, and the Wobblies are not. In some entries, additional reformers or organizations are given a sidebar (e.g., Dolores Huerta is covered in a sidebar in the entry on Cesar Chavez; Earth First! is treated in a sidebar in the entry on environmentalist Judi Bari).
The three volumes are arranged in one alphabetical sequence. Each entry is five to ten pages long and may include a black-and-while photo or two. Treatment is chronological, and main achievements are contextualized. Cross-references are noted in bold type, and some technical terms are defined. A list of sources (books, articles, and Web sites) concludes each entry. A glossary and a list of "Activists by Cause" are repeated in each volume, preceding the entries; and the comprehensive set index closes each volume. An index by country affiliation would have been useful. (In fact, with a few exceptions, countries are not even included in the index.)
The volumes are well bound and easy to handle. Print and layout are clear. Writing is factual and accessible. Photos are useful if not powerful.
Especially as students learn about social issues, this kind of reference volume comes in handy. The U.S. emphasis probably mirrors current curriculum needs, although a greater worldview would have been welcomed. The broad base of topics makes for uneven coverage but may be supplemented by in-depth references on one cause. This work is a satisfactory starting point for the middle-school audience and up. REVWR
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