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
"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."
"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."
"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."
"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."
"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."
"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."