The Concise Princeton Encyclopedia of American Political History

Princeton Univ. 2011. c.672p. ed. by Michael Kazin & others. index. ISBN 9780691152073. pap. $35. Online: REF
Edited by Kazin (history, Georgetown Univ.; America Divided: The Civil War of the 1960s), Rebecca Edwards (history, Vassar college; America's History), and Adam Rothman (history, Georgetown Univ.; Slave Country: American Expansion and the Origins of the Deep South), this multicontributor encyclopedia covers the evolution of American politics from the country's founding to 2008. The 150 entries discuss periods, institutions, movements, major political parties, ideas and philosophies, war and foreign policy, founding documents, regions, and issues. Each piece provides a historical overview of the topic discussed, tracing origins and providing conclusions, and ending with a welcome, comprehensive further-reading list, which will be of true value to those using the text as a springboard for additional study. Front matter includes alphabetical and topical entry lists, though the material is presented alphabetically. Topical presentation might have been better, as moving from, for example, "Interest Groups" to "Iraq wars of 1991 and 2003" is somewhat jarring. This problem is amplified by the title's excellent index, which reminds readers of the context that is lost by alphabetization. BOTTOM LINE While a good starting point for researchers interested in exploring American political history, this encyclopedia will be confusing to lay readers as the evolution of politics in America is best served by an understanding of a broader context of the events or topics at hand. Though it is also alphabetically arranged, beginning history students will find the more comprehensive version of this text, The Princeton Encyclopedia of American Political History (2010), of more value.—Annette Haldeman, Dept. of Legislative Svcs., Maryland General Assembly, Annapolis
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