*Starred Review* This is an update of Mark M. Boatner's classic Encyclopedia of the American Revolution
(1966), which has long been a canonical reference source. But while the original took a standard military approach and had a single author, the revised edition is a more liberal collaborative work, incorporating topics like African Americans, historiography, religion, social history, and women. The first two volumes contain 1,700 alphabetically arranged entries totaling more than 1,300 pages, while the third volume, also an update of an original Boatner work (Landmarks of the American Revolution: A Guide to Knowing and Locating What Happened at the Sites of Independence
, 1973), covers battlefields, historical parks, and notable buildings in entries arranged by state.
Most of the encyclopedia entries are about half a page in length, while longer ones, devoted to major battles like Bunker Hill or major figures like George Washington, may stretch to more than 10 pages. Biographical entries end with a short "Assessment" section, and battle entries likewise with a "Significance" section, summarizing the evolving and current viewpoints on the individual or battle and its overall effect on the war. Scholars have revised some of the original entries, incorporating new perspectives on the scholarship of the Revolutionary period and on the enduring significance of many of its seminal events and figures. The current edition relies more heavily on excerpts from contemporary eyewitness accounts of events, rather than quoting other scholars, as the original often did.
See also references have been added, as have brief bibliographies after most entries. These are complemented by an enormous 57-page bibliography at the end of volume 2. The appendixes include some thoughtful additions--lists of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, delegates to Congress, members of the British Cabinet, general officers of the Continental Army, and calendars for the years 1775-1783. A small number of photographs and illustrations are scattered throughout. These include period paintings as well as current photographs of battlegrounds, order of battle charts, and esoterica like a photo of George Washington's dress sword and pistol. Only volume 3 is indexed. The alphabetical "List of Articles" and the "Thematic Outline," which arranges 800 of the longest entries in volumes 1 and 2 under 20 broad categories, are useful tools but do not take the place of an index.
The most recent comparable reference source, Garland's The American Revolution, 1775-1783: An Encyclopedia (1993), has half as many entries and does not reflect the latest scholarship. Overall, Encyclopedia of the American Revolution is an excellent resource for academic and large public libraries, regardless of whether it replaces an older edition. Michael Tosko
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