by Tom Gilson  (Associate Editor, Against the Grain, and Head of Reference Emeritus, College of Charleston, Charleston, SC 29401) 

The Encyclopedia of Christianity in the United States (2016, 9781442244313, $495) is a recently published reference by Rowman & Littlefield.  Edited by George Thomas Kurian and Mark A. Lamport, this work is a five-volume set that focuses on the widespread historical impact that Christianity has had, and continues to have, on American life and culture as well as the factors that have in turn, influenced it.

As one examines this reference it becomes apparent that it is far more than an A-Z collection of entries.  The Encyclopedia’s scholarly pedigree is obvious from the start with its forward by Martin E. Marty, Professor Emeritus at the University of Chicago and the editors’ introductory essay, with its multiple citations, recounting the broad history of Christianity in America and the forces shaping it.  This is followed by four “contextual snapshot” overviews that reinforce a historical framework from which to view American Christianity extending from the pre-colonial era to the 21st century.  In addition, interspersed through the five volumes are 70 in-depth introductions to “critical influencers” like African American Christianity;  the Ecumenical Movement;  Megachurches;  Pentecostalism and the Separation of Church and State.  Of course, most of the Encyclopedia is taken up by the other A-Z entries that cover various denominations, historic events, theological developments, movements and revivals, key texts and documents, social issues, law and legal decisions, and Christian influence on art, music, education, and the media.  The set also includes nearly 1800 biographies of people who have made their mark on American Christianity and its development.  But that is not all.  There are other useful features including a statistical profile, a timeline of historic milestones, and sidebars noting the contributions of major denominations as well as eight “perspectives” essays in the last volume that offer impressions of American Christianity from other faiths and parts of the world.  Lending order and organization to the set are appendices that list all entries by both authors and thematic sections as well as an index of names and one devoted to entries.  Adding to the Encyclopedia’s scholarly credentials, there are biographical notes on all section editors, contributors, and editorial consultants.

The Encyclopedia of Christianity in the United States is a truly impressive achievement.  Comprehensive, thoughtfully designed, with numerous value added features, it is a serious and scholarly work that offers context, relevant facts, and multiple perspectives on an essential element in American history, culture, and social development.  This is a reference work that should be on the shelves of all academic libraries supporting courses in religious studies as well as in larger public libraries where there is patron interest in religion and American history.

(Rowman & Littlefield also makes the set available as an eBook, 9781442244320, $479.99)


The SAGE Encyclopedia of LGBTQ Studies (2016, 9781483371306, $595) is another reference work from SAGE that offers an interdisciplinary approach to a field of study attracting increasing scholarly attention.  Edited by Abbie E. Goldberg, Associate Professor at Clark University, this three-volume set included approximately 400 articles varying in length from 1,000-3,000 words, arranged alphabetically.

The expertise showcased in this set draws from several of the social sciences including, but not limited to, psychology, sociology, law, family studies, and social work.  As you might expect, this enables coverage of diverse topics related to the LGBTQ community from varied viewpoints.  Broad topics like health, aging, sexuality, activism, work, politics, and family are discussed in multiple entries as are more focused concerns like parenting and marriage and divorce.  Issues related to various populations like LGBTQ youth and LGBTQ college students are also covered, as are matters relevant to specific religious, racial, and ethnic LGBTQ peoples.

The topics dealt with in this reference are complicated and often nuanced.  As befitting a scholarly source at this level, the articles are well-informed by current research and deal with the issues knowledgeably.  Supporting facts and data are cited and relevant theories and concepts referenced.  Each entry provides a bibliography for further exploration and “see also” references to link related articles.  A useful general index provides access to specific facts and entries while a Readers Guide groups related articles into 15 broad categories.  

Ms. Goldberg and her editorial team should be commended for creating a thoughtful, comprehensive, and well-researched reference set.  The SAGE Encyclopedia of LGBTQ Studies fills the need for a scholarly and authoritative background source that both undergraduates and more advanced scholars can turn to with confidence.  Professionals working in LGBTQ related fields as well as interested lay readers seeking reliable up-to-date information will also be well served when consulting its pages.  

This title is also available online via the SAGE Knowledge platform.


The Encyclopedia of Historical Warrior Peoples & Fighting Groups (2016, 9781682170984, $165) is a single-volume reference work that it is in its third edition.  Edited by Paul K. Davis and Allen Lee Hamilton and published by Grey House Publishing, this book focuses on discrete military forces and units that have a recognized and unique identity as a fighting force.  Some 150 different entries are included.

As you can tell from the full title of the Encyclopedia, the editors give themselves a great deal of leeway in determining which groups meet their qualifications for inclusion.  Accordingly, you have whole populations like the Spartans, the Zulus and the Comanche discussed as well as specific units ranging from the Buffalo Soldiers to the Rough Riders to the Sacred Band of Thebes.  In addition, forces that are identified with specific weapons and fighting styles like the Berserkers, the Royal Air Force, and Samurai are covered.  And somewhat controversially, the editors have also included terrorist groups like Hamas, Boko Haram, and ISIS in this latest edition.  The entries are straightforward narratives that provide solid historical accounts relating how each force developed and evolved as well as recounting many of their military actions and activities.  Each entry has a brief list of sources which are collected at the end of the volume in a comprehensive bibliography.  Other value added features include a list of related primary documents, a section of maps and a timeline of entries, as well as a general index.  

The Encyclopedia of Historical Warrior Peoples & Fighting Groups should prove a useful reference for interested students by providing a basic foundation to initiate more in-depth exploration.  Each entry provides background information about the force covered that is grounded in reliably sourced research.  High school students and lower division undergraduates will find it of most benefit.  Given the level of interest in military topics among some students, it a reference work that would be equally suitable for many circulating collections.


Extra Servings

Salem Press has recently released some new titles:

  • Defining Documents in American History: Immigration & Immigrant Communities (1790-2016) (Feb. 2017, ISBN: 9781682172858, $175; e-ISBN: 9781682172865, $175) is a single-volume work that “explores the full history of immigration issues in America, from those early immigrants making their way through Ellis Island, to immigration issues in modern society.  With in-depth analysis of a broad range of documents, researchers come away with fresh understanding and insight to study this hot button topic…”
  • The Critical Survey of Science Fiction & Fantasy Literature, 2nd Edition, (Mar. 2017, ISBN: 9781682172780; $295; e-ISBN: 9781682172797, $295) is a three-volume set that “combines biography and critical analysis of the most important contemporary and historic figures and works in science fiction and fantasy literature.  This important reference provides students and researchers with an easy-to-use source to help them embark on research in literary studies…”

SAGE Reference is planning a couple of new releases:

  • Historic Documents of 2016 (July 2017, ISBN: 9781506375007, $350) is the latest volume in this annual series.  Like its predecessors, it presents “excerpts from documents on the important events of each year for the United States and the World.  Each volume pairs 60 to 70 original background narratives with well over 100 documents to chronicle the major events of the year, from official reports and surveys to speeches from leaders and opinion makers, to court cases, legislation, testimony, and much more…”  
  • The SAGE Encyclopedia of Psychology and Gender (July 2017, ISBN: 9781483384283, $550) offers researchers an “exploration of the intersection of gender and psychology — topics that resonate across disciplines and inform our everyday lives.  This encyclopedia looks at issues of gender, identity, and psychological processes at the individual as well as the societal level, exploring topics such as how gender intersects with developmental processes both in infancy and childhood and throughout later life stages; the evolution of feminism and the men’s movement; the ways in which gender can affect psychological outcomes and influence behavior; and more…”

Among the latest from ABC-CLIO Greenwood:

  • Food in America: The Past, Present, and Future of Food, Farming, and the Family Meal (Feb. 2017, 9781610698580, $294; eBook: 9781610698597, $294) is a three-volume reference that “examines all facets of the modern U.S. food system, including the nation’s most important food and agriculture laws, the political forces that shape modern food policy, and the food production trends that are directly impacting the lives of every American family…”

Just released by Oxford University Press:

  • The Oxford Dictionary of Family Names in Britain and Ireland (Jan. 2017, ISBN: 9780199677764, $600) is a four-volume reference that contains “entries for more than 45,000 English, Scottish, Welsh, Irish, Cornish, and immigrant surnames, The Oxford Dictionary of Family Names in Britain and Ireland is the ultimate reference work on family names of the UK.  The Dictionary includes every surname that currently has more than 100 bearers…”

Academic Press has recently published a couple of multivolume sets:

  • The International Encyclopedia of Public Health (Nov. 2016, ISBN: 9780128036785, $3200; eBook: 9780128037089, $3200; bundle $3840) is a seven-volume set that provides a “guide to the major issues, challenges, methods, and approaches of global public health.  Taking a multidisciplinary approach, this new edition combines complementary scientific fields of inquiry, linking biomedical research with the social and life sciences to address the three major themes of public health research, disease, health processes, and disciplines…”
  • The Encyclopedia of Spectroscopy and Spectrometry, 3rd Edition (Oct. 2016, ISBN: 9780128032244, $2450; eBook: 9780128032251, $2450; bundle: $2940) provides “coverage of all aspects of spectroscopy and closely related subjects that use the same fundamental principles, including mass spectrometry, imaging techniques and applications.  It includes the history, theoretical background, details of instrumentation and technology, and current applications of the key areas of spectroscopy…”  


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