Book Review: The Scarecrow Press "A to Z" Guides Series

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Lanham, Md.: Scarecrow/Rowman & Littefield. . . . ISBN:

For several years now, the Scarecrow Press has published the "A to Z" series.  These are one volume reference works on a variety of subjects, including religious, cultural, political, social, and artistic movements, as well as historical events. 

Several of the volumes deal with particular wars, three of which are noted here.

> The A to Z of the War of 1812 , by Robert Malcolm.  Lanham , Md. : Scarecrow/Rowman & Littlefield, 2006. Pp. lxiii, 699. Illus., maps, chron., biblio. $45.00 paper. ISBN: 978-0-8108-6838-0.

> The A to Z of the United States-Mexican War , by Edward H. Moseley and Paul C. Clark, Jr.  Lanham , Md. : Scarecrow/Rowman & Littlefield, 2009. Pp. liv, 343. Illus., maps, chron., biblio. $45.00 paper. ISBN: 978-0-8108-6861-8.

>  The A to Z of the Russo-Japanese War , by Rotem Kowner.  Lanham , Md. : Scarecrow/ Rowman & Littlefield, 2009. Pp. lv, 566. Illus., maps, chron., biblio.,. index $45.00 paper. ISBN: 978-0-8108-6841-0.

The authors are all seasoned students of their subject, Malcolm, for example, having written Lords of the Lake: The Naval War on Lake Ontario, 1812-1814and several other works on the War of 1812, while Moseley has written Yucatan: A World Apart and other works on Mexico, Clark?s works include The Notorious "Bull" Nelson: Murdered Civil War General,  and Kowner has also written The Impact of the Russo-Japanese War.

The volumes have a standard format, though the Russo-Japanese one has an index, unfortunately missing from the other two. Each opens with a short, concise, even-handed discussion of the origins, course, and consequences of the war. There follows an alphabetical listing of hundreds of persons, places, institutions, technologies, ships, events, and ideas, including some that are often over-looked in standard accounts of the particular wars, such as the Canadian dimension of the War of 1812 or the impact of the Russo-Japanese War on Korea, and, in the case of the Mexican-American War, far more attention to the "other" side than is commonly found in most books on the subject. Entries often run two or three pages, and some of the biographic ones are the most extensive treatment of the person in English. 

Coverage is usually very good, but there are a few surprising omissions or errors in all three volumes. The 1812 volume, for example, lacks an entry for governor Daniel Tompkins of New York , for a time the commander of the northern front, who is often mentioned in other entries, nor are there entries on conscription, state regular troops, or coast defenses. Similarly, the Mexican War volume omits Vicente Filisola, one of the most important senior Mexican officers. Oddly, the 1812 volume has useful, if sometimes erroneous, profiles of U.S. regiments, but the Mexican War volume does not. Such lapses are not common, however.

The war history volumes of the "A to Z" series will prove useful references for both amateur and professional historians, and would make a valuable addition to any library, particularly as they cost less than other similar, often less comprehensive historical dictionaries.

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Reviewer: A.A. Nofi   


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