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Encyclopedia of New Jersey Hardcover – March 25, 2004

4.6 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Few entities have endured a negative reputation to the extent that the state of New Jersey has. Because of its association with toxic waste and organized crime, many neglect to give the state the regard that its early and recent history and accomplishments would warrant. Mappen, a former vice chairman of the Task Force on New Jersey History and executive director of the New Jersey Historical Commission, was inspired by the Encyclopedia of New York City (Yale Univ., 1995) to produce a similar work that would define and illuminate what New Jersey is. His coeditor, Lurie, is chair of the history department of Seton Hall University.

In size and appearance, this volume closely resembles the Encyclopedia of New York City. According to the preface, it contains 2,900 entries written by more than 600 authors. Biographies of the contributors are given at the end of the volume. Among the areas covered are architecture, folklore, geography, literature, and transportation. The length and depth of the entries varies from a short paragraph to two-plus pages. All are signed, and many contain bibliographies, though much of the cited material would be difficult to obtain outside of the area. Although some of this information is likely to be duplicated in sources specific to single disciplines, there is nothing else that offers the expansive coverage of this state. Information on small geographic areas and minor political and historical figures might not easily be found anywhere else. The black-and-white illustrations enhance the text, as does the midvolume section of colored plates.

The front matter begins with a list of donors who helped defray the cost of production and development, leaving this sizable volume with a bargain price. Certainly all New Jersey libraries would need to buy this work, as should most libraries in the Northeast. Academic and large public libraries everywhere should find it useful. Danise Hoover
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Review

"New Jersey has always had attitude. Now it has heft. The Encyclopedia of New Jersey covers everything you've ever wanted to know about the Garden State--and then some."
(Star-Ledger)

"If you've got a hankering to become an expert on all things of your home state, there's no better place to start."
(Press of Atlantic City)

"What do Abott & Costello, the Ku Kulx Klan, pharmaceutical giant Sandoz, African American baseball pioneer Larry Doby, fundamentalist preacher Carl McIntire, Lyme disease, and the Courier-Post have in common? They all have entries in the Encyclopedia of New Jersey."
(Courier-Post)

"There is nothing else that offers the expansive coverage of this state...a bargain price...Certainly all New Jersey libraries would need to buy this work, as should most libraries in the Northeast. Academic and large public libraries everywhere should find it useful."
(Booklist)

"The book is a treasure, with contributions from nearly 800 writers. It is a resource that scholars, officials, history teachers, and journalists will be consulting for generations. It is also a fun read for the general public, particularly people who live in New Jersey or who used to live here."
(The Record)

"Packed with illustrations and maps, [The Encyclopedia] has sweeping entries on topics such as agriculture, immigration and even the history of New Jersey history books. But there are also articles on such Garden State novelties as the Jersey Devil-a legendary South Jersey creature said to have the head of horse and the wings of a bat-and Margate's Lucy the Elephant, a six-story, 90-ton house that looks like a Pachyderm."
(Home News Tribune)

"The entries had to be balanced in terms of geography, history, politics and cultural significance. . . . the editors also set a very high standard for the living people they would include in the encyclopedia. . . .The encyclopedia is clearly the most monumental project ever undertaken by the press. . . . Although the book is big and comprehensive, it is quite readable. Perusing one item, say the entry on boardwalks, leads you to entries on the Jersey Shore and the Steel Pier. The section on Kalmyks, descendants of Mongolians living in central Jersey, prompts you to check out the entry on ethnicity, where you can learn about the enormous variety of ethnic groups in the state."
(Rutgers Focus)

"If you think of states as characters, New Jersey is a major player, not a glamorous matinee idol, but a star with a black coffee voice and a five o'clock shadow, like Humphrey Bogart. . . . In this book, it's a lot of this and a lot of that."
(Town Topics)
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Product Details

  • Series: Encyclopedia of New Jersey
  • Hardcover: 958 pages
  • Publisher: Rutgers University Press; 1 edition (March 25, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0813533252
  • ISBN-13: 978-0813533254
  • Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 1.8 x 11.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #866,729 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
First, the good points: this work is huge, well illustrated, and priced at about one third of what a commercial publisher would have to charge for something comparable. Probably no resource has treated the Garden State so thoroughly since the WPA guide was published about 65 years ago.
The downside, unfortunately, is that the contents are disappointing. Since the book has no index, or even a classified list of "essay" entries, there's no way to locate a topic unless you're able to hit upon the precise title under which it's discussed (assuming it's in there somewhere). The scope of coverage is quirky: it seems that every hamlet in the state has its own entry, yet there is no general treatment of, for example, industry or commerce or dairying or corporations (all things that are or have been highly important to New Jersey). Several of the general entries I have read so far are not exactly packed with information; the entries on industrial architecture and law, for instance, are as much about trends that apply to the whole nation as about anything specific to New Jersey.
Still, this work is certainly worth having, and Rutgers should be praised for making it possible. At present, no other reference work comes close.
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Format: Hardcover
I received this as a gift and haven't been able to stop reading it. It makes the most wonderful gift--it must weigh ten pounds! It's a massive guide to everything you'd ever want to know about New Jersey. When you read one entry it leads you to another, and so on, which makes for compulsive reading. There is even an entry for the small town where I grew up, South River, New Jersey. I don't think any family in New Jersey should be withtout this book - it's also great for research papers for school. This encyclopedia should make all New Jerseyans proud of our great state!
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
If you live in New Jersey, or just want to know about the Garden State, this book was a long time in coming and a very welcomed addition to any library. It is amazing how many interesting facts and stories there are about NJ, and all are found in this compact and easy to read book. It is also bursting with interesting photos, facts and figures. Written by many different experts on their own domains of the state, it brings together varied writers and writing styles. It's both a respected academic addition, while being well written and stimulating to just pick up and pick a county!
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Regional reference books were all the rage in the past decade, and this one stands high among them. Walter Edgar's South Carolina Encyclopedia is about as good as they get, and this book is just as good, if not better than that one.

Here is a feast for historians, biographers and demographers, comprehensively covering one of our most important and fascinating states. For those who know New Jersey, you'll appreciate the vast scope and historical depth of this volume. There's just so much here, even for well-seasoned Jerseyites. For those who know only little of New Jersey, or tend to defer to regional stereotypes, this book will be a real eye opener. I'm a traveler, and I've made mental notes of "must see" locations by the hundreds just by browsing this book.

If there's one topic that really shines from the eight pounds of high-quality paper (Rutgers has constructed an elegant volume), it's colonial history. New Jersey is a land at the very epicenter of our colonial history, both at peace and at war. All the necessary characters, places and stories are here.

Of course, this is a reference book, and many readers will use it as such, but its narrative sections are written by experts with a sense for both scholarship and wit that make for hours of casual browsing... just for the fun of it.
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